"Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional. We cannot avoid pain, but we can avoid joy." -Tim Hansel
I’ve often confused strength with suffering. Why? Because I was taught that suffering produces strength. And so were you. Am I stronger for growing up without a father? Sure. Are you stronger after dealing with a life-changing experience or trauma? Absolutely! But, I didn't sign up to lose my father to suicide to prove my strength and you didn't sign up for that miscarriage or cancer diagnosis to enhance your life. Strength was the silver-lining of our pain. Strength was the outcome of the unavoidable mishap that was thrown our way.
Depression is not an unavoidable mishap you have to endure. Depression does not make you stronger. I know, it goes against everything we have been taught but hear me out. Suffering with depression does not make you stronger. It weighs you down. Depression forces you to live a lesser life. Depression robs you of your self-worth. Depression symptoms make you weak.
How many people silently suffer because they believe getting help is a weakness? We subscribe to societal norms. We confuse strength with suffering. I will suffer, therefore I am strong. Would you tell your doctor after a cancer diagnosis, “Doc, to prove my strength I am going to handle this alone.” No! Yet we do this time and time again with depression. We think depression is something we have to survive. We accept our misery as a sign of strength.
Do I have the strength to endure my suffering? Heck yeah!
Do I have to suffer to prove my strength? Heck no!!
Life will throw us plenty of opportunities to suffer where we don't have a choice.
If you are suffering from depression, don't waste another second. Get some help.
Unsure where to start? Make an appointment with your primary care physician and tell them you are experiencing symptoms of depression and/or make an appointment with a therapist. Psychology Today is an invaluable resource which allows you to search for therapists in your area. Remember to use the refine tool to filter therapists who accept your insurance!
Together, we can make a difference. End the shame. Getting help for depression is the bravest thing you can do.
May I ask you a small favor? Share this post with your friends and family! Let's get the word out that asking for help is the strongest thing you can do. Suffering in silence is no longer expected or acceptable. Someone needs to hear these exact words.
Heidi has been working as a school counselor for over 15 years and strives to end the stigma of depression. She offers helpful tips and strategies to help yourself or someone you love who is suffering. Her personal experiences with grief, relationships, depression, poor self-image, bullying, anxiety, and relational aggression gives her a unique perspective on what its takes to overcome tragedy as a adolescent and adult.