Living with someone that suffers from depression challenges even the most loving families. It’s difficult to empathize with depression if you have never experienced it. Many of us have experienced loss and grief, but depression completely consumes a person in hopelessness. I want to share an analogy that might help describe how it feels. Disclaimer; I have never personally experienced clinical depression. Clients of mine bravely shared that it really captured what they were going through.
During my First Responder Certification training with Academy Hour, Amy Morgan, MSC, had a powerful analogy for someone struggling with depression to the point of suicidal ideation. She described it this way: Imagine that every struggle that you carry is a book. Every unresolved loss, every memory of pain, or abuse, or suffering. Every trauma you have endured is another one of these heavy books that you carry around with you. Imagine that you have a stack of twelve books that you have to carry EVERYWHERE YOU GO! Everything you do is accompanied by the stress and exhaustion of lugging these books around. Even something simple like taking a shower or cleaning your room is exhausting. Others don’t see the books that you carry, so they can’t understand why you struggle. They say that you should appreciate the good in your life and just move on, but you can’t even see what they see because your so focused on the books! You feel so tired and you’re running out of options. Everything you try to give up a book or two fails. You want to just give up, let go of the books, and end the pain.
Does this analogy help you feel what it might be like? If you have suffered with depression, does this analogy work? It took me inside the world of someone feeling absolutely exhausted and defeated. It helps me understand why trying to pull someone out of depression with well-meaning distractions, gifts, vacations, and even love falls flat? Relief only comes when someone helps carry the load through understanding and validation. As a family member or a friend, this is your role… to help carry the load. Then encourage him or her to seek professional help if needed. As a counselor, I have tools to work with clients to crush the thoughts that drive depression. Even as a counselor, I can’t help a client feel better until I help lighten the load. Eventually, we set those books down (one by one) for good.
Licensed Professional Counselor Intern
Under Supervision of Tiffany Smith LPC-S, LMFT-S, NCC