A Lifestyle Choice? (Depression for Dummies.)

It’s not that I don’t like my life. I do.

‘Good morning Starbucks, yes I am fine, are you?’

I know I am very lucky.

I know from the outside looking in it would seem that I have nothing to be unhappy about, nothing at all.

I know I’m very lucky to have a beautiful healthy baby boy… who, ok is approaching two and has therefor developed a fondness for throwing trains at my face when I wont give him pizza and ice pops for breakfast, but that’s normal right? That’s kids! I should laugh about it. And I do.

I know I have a lovely flat… and ok it is too small and we have no room and of course I would love it to sell so we could move, but that’s understandable and nothing to stress about is it? That’s life. I should be grateful I am not homeless. And I am.

And yes I know both my parents are still alive and healthy and supportive in ways I would never have thought possible… and ok, they are a bit crackers, but whose parents aren’t right? You should be thanking your lucky stars you still have them. And I do.

And to top all this luckiness off I have the support of a sexy bearded man with a nice accent… and ok, sometimes I want to garrote him with my dressing gown belt because he seems incapable of finishing off the washing up, or for that matter, throwing away the used loo roll (!!!! The bin is right there!!!!), but that’s just a man thing isn’t it? I should be grateful he has stuck by me. I should thank my lucky stars. And sometimes, during moments of clarity, I do.

‘Grande, Extra shot, skinny dry cappuccino please… Yes he is nursery. No, no flavor today thanks.’

I know that I should be happy and living life to the full, not wishing my days away.

I know I should try harder to concentrate on enjoying the here and now.

I know life is passing me by and I should be relishing every moment.

I know I need to realise I am lucky.

I know this.

I know you think I JUST need to do all these things and I would be ‘better’.

I know you think I am selfish.

I feel selfish.

‘Yes it was lovely thanks. We went to Ireland. Lots of family and he loved his presents yes. Did you have a good one?’

And I also know you have tried and tried and tried, but you just can’t seem to grasp why I can’t just pull myself together, or why can’t I just smile more? Or why am I unable to just give my head a wobble and see how lucky I am.

I can see in your eyes that you think you have the answers, that you think I am choosing to ignore you. I know when you hug me you think I am weak and I am pathetic, that I have issues, that I am dramatic and need constant attention.

I know you think living like this is a choice I am making.

The illness I am suffering from is not a choice though.

And it is that illusion, that perfectionist, simple view, which is damaging.

All of us.

Who would choose to wake up every morning and want it to be bedtime? Just so they didn’t have to pretend to be happy. Just so they didn’t have to smile and play and swallow down the tears repeatedly every time they could see how many moments they were choosing to miss out on, unable to grasp hold of, unable to get back.

Who would choose to lie in bed all night crying silent tears of frustration? Just because they have lost control of their own minds, just because they are being tortured over and over by demons so cunning and sly, so ferocious and cruel, that they can’t reach out, they are isolated, no matter how many battles they choose to courageously fight in the hope it will stop.

Who would choose to feel nothing? Who would choose to become so numb that human touch evaporates before it even breaks the surface? Who would choose isolation in a room bursting with family and caring faces?

Who would choose to experience only tiny moments of clarity? Who would choose to find natural laughter over something insignificant, so momentous that they remember back to it days later and wish they could experience it again? Be normal.

Who would choose to walk a lonely path in the darkness when there is light surrounding them?

Who would choose to die, over living?

‘Oh how lovely. That must have been wonderful. I am glad your sister enjoyed it. Ok, well I am just going over by the window. Thanks again, have a good day.’

Who would choose to live with a hidden affliction, a disease, an overpowering sickness that nobody could see, that was incredibly misunderstood and was often treated with flamboyant disregard?

Nobody would choose this.

Depression is an illness. Not a choice.

Treat those fighting it, and the illness itself with the respect it deserves.

End the stigma.


96 Comments on “A Lifestyle Choice? (Depression for Dummies.)

  1. So glad for all the previous comments. And also: sometimes when people hug you they aren’t thinking anything except: “I’ve been there. She needs a hug. I hope my hug will convey even a tiny portion of the support we all need, that she needs right now.”

  2. I’m in a pretty dark hour and my Mum posted one of those hideous inspirational images on my Facebook that said “Life is like a rollercoaster. It has its ups and downs. But it’s your choice to scream or enjoy the ride”. So I went in search on Google of “Depression is not a choice” and came across this. She found it very useful… so thank you.

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  10. Superb post. Spot on in every respect and thoroughly deserving of its award-winning status! Hugs.

  11. I found this through MAD blogs awards site. Thank you for writing so honestly about depression. Reading this has helped me so much.

  12. Hi, just read this post and it made me cry at work! I am currently fighting depression and am desperately trying to shake this devil that’s crept in to my body. I’m spaced out on anti-depressants and am trying to grasp just one glimmer of ‘me/normality’ during each day. It helps so much to read that it’s not just me feeling like this and that I must be wrong somewhere, I hope your feeling much better 🙂 x

    • Please dont be alone with this, there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of at all. Life happens and this is an illness. I am sure and i do hope you have support. Im always here if you need a virtual ear and a hug x

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  14. Just wanted to offer some love and support on your blog. I also feel misunderstood when people think I’m making the choice to be depressed, and therefore anti-social…, not realizing that I’d do ANYTHING to be feel comfortable enough to be friendly and outgoing. ::HUGS::

  15. Sorry, just caught up with this post, but yes you sum it up beautifully. I have been there as well, I have contemplated piles of pills, and other methods in the past. But thankfully for me thats where it is staying, as a mum you dont have time to give into depression, but then one day it does just overwhelm and you cant ignore it any more. I am fortunate – I have come out the other end, and there is light at the end, but if only more people appreciated it is an illness like any other and not a lifestyle choice. That right now is no consolation to you as there is no “average duration” or “keep the plaster on for 8 weeks and it will be healed when it comes off”, it leaves you in the same way it comes little bit by little bit, day by day, month by month till one day you realise it has left…..
    But with people like you writing brilliant heartfelt stuff like this maybe in time it will become “acceptable”.
    ps – my lot think we have a toilet roll fairy in this house too – even when the adult kids visit and finish a roll they NEVER EVER place empty one in the bin (2ft away) and put on an new one (less than 2 ft away……..gggrrrrrr)
    heartfelt hugs to all of you, keep up the good work, one day maybe you can put this lot in a book oneday

  16. Well written ,honest post ,it describes this debilitating illness so well . You are NOT ALONE !!! , think of you often xxx

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  18. Well I am comment #68 so unlikely to be read, and to be honest can’t say much else. This post describes my experience of depression better than I ever could. It is like my shadow and I have to be careful which way I turn in case it gets taller than me. You say it better. You truly have my best wishes in kicking into touch. It’s a slippery bastard though.

  19. Wonderfully written, well done you. As a fellow sufferer I didn’t choose depression, it slowly crept up on me, took hold and now won’t let me go.

  20. Wonderfully written. As a sufferer myself I didn’t choose to be depressed it just crept up on me, got hold and just won’t let go.

    I have developed fake smiles and laughter on cue to keep every body else happy though

  21. Hope you are coping somehow and that the silence on your blog is due to your taking some time for yourself. Seems I’m not the only one getting a bit worried about the lack of posts for over a month. Love and support to you, I really hope you get it because you deserve it!

  22. Oh I so so so relate to several elements of this. I’d say 80% of it.
    Like others have said you write amazingly well.
    Sending you love xxxxxx

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  24. I have been meaning to read this post for a while and am so glad I got around to it today. You write incredibly well about what people can’t see and how exhausting all the pretending is. You pushed a few buttons with me I didn’t know were there and I don’t know whether to thank you or cry! Brilliant, well thought out post, particularly the coffee conversation. Decidedly, thank you.

  25. amazing post as ever my lovely, people are so ignorant they can’t see past the end of tbeir noses. love ya toots

  26. What a fantastic and heartfelt post. You touched a raw nerve for me today as I have just been to doc’s this morning about the exact same thing……..you explained it so much better than I could today!! I recognise I can feel like this and know I need to help myself the best I can. It’s a constant struggle and a vicious circle I hope to break soon.

    Thank you for being so honest 🙂

  27. Thank you so much for this post. A friend shared the link with me on Twitter. One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in dealing with my depression has been the ‘helpful’ people who seem to think that telling me that I have a great life (which I already know) or that I simply don’t look depressed (what does deprsesion look like?). So few people seem to really understand.

    Hugs to you. I’ve managed to find a fantastic counseler who has been very supportive and understanding. I hope that you have been able to do the same.

  28. The Salvation Army thinks that prayer will negate depression. My husband was told he didn’t have depression because, “he looked pretty good” to the therapist!!! Talk about dangerously stupid!!!

  29. You are one of the most moving writers I have encountered in such a long time, Lexy. If I might suggest, being of the “Psych Ward Graduating Class” myself and plenty of counseling hours behind me, when they tell you that you should keep a journal (if not already), do keep that journal. Carry it with you everywhere and log in moments that feel huge to you, no matter how nutz. I honestly think you could sell your memoirs (and maybe move to a bigger flat?) and help so many people see what it looks like behind the marble eyes painted in for the world to see, and also those who are in your place.

    And exercise. It sounds strange, but I came out of incredibly heavy places..almost catatonic trances…though large amounts of exertion. It won’t solve the root, but may help you get through the day. Love and light, baby!

  30. There are moments in life when somebody – usually unintentionally – demonstrates that they GET IT. Times when i suddenly realize that i am not alone, that there are other folks with whom i share experiences, feelings, and illnesses. Thank you for expressing so eloquently a part of my experience of life. Just for writing about this, just for being open and honest and challenging people to think differently, YOU ARE A HERO.

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  32. As a sufferer of bipolar, (depression mostly) and anxiety, I thank you for this. You’re right no one chose this life. But it happens. End the stigma. Thanks for posting.

  33. I started off not crying. Even chuckling at the familiarity of this conversation. Tears started dropping when I hit the part of waking up & wishing it were bedtime. (only I’d have to add that then being scared of bedtime bc that means the dark hours & insomnia).

    Thanks for being my voice today.

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  35. Brilliant. Really. Being constantly reminded about the things I should be thankful for and am thankful for, really doesn’t help. It feeds my tendency to isolate. Thank you for explaining this so eloquently. Also, since depression can be invisible (at least in short spurts) people are sometimes surprised by it when it surfaces or when it is admitted to. I, for one, can appear to be much better than I am– at times. It’s a gift, and a curse. This was a beautiful piece. Thank you.

  36. Just a stunning post about depression. Everyone should read this. Sending you hugs. Your inner strength shows through in your writing.

  37. My friend suffers from depression and has at times been crazy (she once tried to stab me) however I would NEVER give up on her!!! Other friends wonder why I’m still her friend, they say just forget about her. My reply to them is it’s an illness and if she need heart medication you wouldn’t just give up!!! But today you have explained it so much better than I ever could so I will save this blog post and show it to them. Well done on an amazing post! I really hope you feel like smiling again soon.

  38. Thank you, thank you, thank you….you said what I couldn’t. I truly think this is s big step forward for you xxxxxxxx

  39. I think you may have taken a step forward today. What you have done, by articulating this so incredibly well, is helped thousands, and their familes, and their loved ones, employers, friends – their entire community of people.

    You have done exactly what you have craved for yourself and for your healing – you have shone a light into a very dark corner.

    Be proud. Be very, very proud.

  40. That’s it in a nutshell. Think I might just have to print this out & shove it into a few peoples hands and simply say “THIS” Well I would if I thought it would do any good, but sadly people just don’t ‘get it’ I know some of the people closest to me don’t. You’re one amazing lady. Thank you for putting it so clearly xx

  41. Great post, as always.
    Go back through that post and count the “shoulds” and “oughts” – we perfectionists are a nightmare at constantly comparing ourselves with who we think we are expected to be. If only we could just BE. Do what makes us happy and what is right for US (and our family of course).

  42. Amazing post!! Reading this at work with tears streaming down my face. My mom suffered from depression while we were growing up. And I suppose I have never really understood it. Now I have children of my own I am trying to understand more, this post had hit such a soft spot . Thank you. Big big hugs x x

  43. What can I say, that hasn’t already been said? So, so moving and evocative. But am so sad that you are beating yourself up so badly about it. It’s not your fault. You can’t help it. At the moment it’s stronger than you. But you will beat it.
    When I finally stopped questionning it saying “Why me, I have everything to be happy about, this is not me at all?” it seemed as though I could move forward slowly living day by day. It was as if constantly questioning it, set up negative vibes. Once I said, okay, this is my lot at the moment, I felt as though I could go with the tide rather than swimming against it. Could then try and move forward. Some days better than others, but slowly, slowly improving. If I wanted to cry, I cried. It is an emotion inside ourselves that needs to come out, like laughing, it’s a release. It took several years before I found ‘me’ again.
    But then mine was not PND and I wasn’t ‘clinically depressed’ whatever that means.. But, anyway, enough said. You have lots of friends and support out there and you will beat it!! Hugs.

  44. I want to send this post to every person who has ever tried to tell me that my illness is “all in my head” or to “pull my socks up and see the good stuff”. You’ve put into words all the things that I wish I had the guts to say to people I know. I haven’t chosen to spend the last 18 years of my life battling against an invisible demon, I’ve HAD to.
    Thank you for putting this out there. I want so many people to read this and maybe they’ll have a bit more understanding and compassion about mental health issues. x

  45. What a fantastic piece of writing. I hope this is seen by many and is a comfort to those who are with you and a understanding on it for those who don’t understand. x

  46. You have explained this incredibly well. It sounds awful, but it doesn’t necessarily work to just think of all the things you should be thankful for. If the dark cloud is there, it simply won’t go away. Thank you for such a well written post.

  47. Choked a bit reading this as I just think of my husband who has been battling severe depression since last Summer. I can’t possibly imagine what people with depression go through but I vehemently challenge every single person who dismisses it as ‘feeling a bit sad’. Why would anyone choose to be like that? It is a physical condition, a chemical imbalance in the brain, that manifests itself mentally. Just because you can’t see a bandage or a broken leg doesn’t mean the pain is any less. My husband describes living outside himself almost in another persona to try and cope with day to day interactions, so why would people, family and friends, think there is anything wrong?
    You are stronger than you think. It’s easier not to express it and not to be honest but what you’re doing is amazing. Hugs to you and yours. This post should be put on a leaflet and given to all those who think people with depression just need to ‘get a grip’ or ‘focus on the positives or any other such well meaning/unhelpful mantra they spout.

  48. FANTASTIC !!!!!!!!
    It couldn’t be better said.
    Nobody chooses, I know I certainly didn’t – Unfortunately, It just happens 😦

    Silly question but …..Have you approached mental health charities to see if you could work in their awareness depts ??

    Well Done xx

  49. From one who knows….what a fantastic thought provoking post.
    A thought i tell myself every day…This too shall pass…..

  50. Well done you, this is amazing and so well written. I think this is one of your best posts ever. From someone whose father suffers from depression, no-one chooses to walk into the sea to waist-height because they don’t know how to continue breathing.

    Ignorance is not an excuse.

    Mental health is paramount!

  51. It amazes me how people will so readily tell a person suffering from depression to get over it & to live life to the full yet they would never say this to someone suffering from cancer!
    Both are debilitating diseases & both can be terminal and yet one has such a stigma attached that people simply won’t talk about it.
    Depression will NOT go away, we need to help people & remove the stigma that is associated with it & then perhaps we might not lose so may wonderful people to this ugly disease.
    Keep fighting Lexy

  52. I was told, well meaningly, more than once that I needed to “snap out of it” and “get over it” and was made to feel selfish because my PPD and anxiety was apparently something I should have just “gotten over”. I had everything to live for, yet waking up to face each day was agony. People who’ve never had depression need to think before they judge those of us fighting it, and certainly before they speak.
    Hang in there, I know where you are, I’ve been there. That dark place is a prison no one would ever choose to be in.
    Love your blog. Found you on Twitter!

  53. Lexy,

    You are so not alone. I had severe post partum depression after my second one was born and cried when I found out I was going to have a third.

    If you don’t read The Bloggess (www.thebloggess.com), you might want to take a look at her post from yesterday. She is an amazingly popular blogger here in America and known for being riotously funny and having a life most of us could only dream of. Yesterday, she shared her intense battle with depression and self harm. It was amazing, as were the thousands of comments she received in support.

    I know what it’s like to have everyone think you’ve got it made and on the inside, you just want to stay in bed or die. Depression is a sickness, not a choice. God, who would choose to live like this?


  54. Your post really spoke to me. I’m arranging to see my doctor to find out if I have some degree of PND or whether it’s “something else”. One of my biggest worries is that if I am depressed, people close to me will think I’ve got no reason to be unhappy and I should pull myself together. It makes me feel unsafe and as though I can’t share the way I’m feeling with those people I should be able to rely on. You’ve expressed your thoughts so beautifully and clearly. Thank you x

  55. I think everyone with depression probably has the same issue – small-minded people that think they know better.

    A relative once told me I couldn’t have PND because my son was 3 months old and PND only lasted 3 days after birth without question.

    Cwtches to you and everyone else going through the same x

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