Things I Wish I Was Told When Diagnosed With Depression

Things I Wish I Was Told When Diagnosed With DepressionAll of my remembered life I have been depressed. Therefore, depression feels deeply entwined with my identity. Most of that time I felt ashamed of being depressed and, therefore, ashamed of who I was. This is the tragic nature of the stigma surrounding mental illness. Because of the stigma, I thought I was alone, and, that I should keep my symptoms to myself for the benefit of others.

I can only speak to my feelings and experiences of depression, but it feels important to normalize some of the realities of mental illness I faced. I think it would have served me greatly to understand these components of depression earlier in my diagnosis. I am not clinically an expert, but, I have spent 10 years living with and navigating this diagnosis. As such, I have compiled some of the things I wish someone had told me when I first became depressed.

  • It’s scary to lose a feeling of connection to your dreams.
  • There’s a dull, aching numbness that comes from looking at something beautiful and feeling indifferent.
  • Even when I experience excitement for the progress and successes of those around me, it’s really painful to watch the world go on when I feel like I can’t.
  • Sometimes my thoughts are wrong.
  • My feelings are never wrong, but, they may be a byproduct of distorted thinking.
  • Managing mental illness is never linear and it can feel really devastating when the valleys arrive.
  • Sometimes I will feel unbearably scared.
  • The genetic component to my disorder will make me more vulnerable to major depressive episodes due to external triggers.
  • My depression will wear different masks, exhibit different symptoms, and I will not always be able to detect its presence using the same criteria.
  • Managing mental illness is exhausting.
  • I am often my greatest obstacle.
  • Depression and trauma are often accompanied by somatic expressions of these experiences.
  • I will often be asked to choose life when I really don’t want to.
  • Psychiatric facilities in hospitals can be really scary.
  • People will feel frustrated by my symptoms at times, especially those that have chronic nature.
  • Some people won’t be able to sustain a relationship with me, romantic or otherwise, due to my illness.
  • I will have to live my life differently than I may want to.
  • I will often be met with doubt when it comes to the validity of my statements.
  • Sometimes I will simply have a day.
  • Not all depression is the same. Try not to feel discouraged when methods that are useful to others are not for you.
  • Waking up and surviving can be an incredible accomplishment.
  • People whose intentions are to help you may not be actually doing so. It’s okay to let those people go.
  • A medical or psychiatric doctor’s arrogance has the potential to be dangerous.
  • No one is going to “fix” me.
  • Try not to be too preoccupied by the fact that a major role I will play in life is that of a patient.
  • It’s really brave to communicate when I am having the urge to cope with maladaptive behaviors.
  • An absence of feeling, numbness, and indifference hurts in a different kind of way.
  • Treasure laughter.
  • My unexpressed feelings will not vanish. If I eliminate verbal expression, I will likely find myself communicating behaviorally.
  • Normality is a social construct. I must try not to feel discouraged that my path deviates from the norm.
  • My maladaptive coping mechanisms came to be as a protective measure. Try to have compassion for them.
  • I must try, even when my brain insists I shouldn’t, to have compassion for myself.

I hope that through sharing my experience, even one person can feel slightly more understood. Living with depression is inherently difficult, but, I believe the more we talk about it, the more we shed the stigma, the more bearable it becomes. I believe we can all learn to combat our depression, but, it’s a lot easier if we do it together.

About the Author

Sonali Beaven Sonali Beaven is a student in pursuit of a degree in both psychology and women’s and gender studies. She is currently a volunteer at CALM working with children who have endured trauma. She has also been certified in domestic violence counseling and youth psychological first aid. She aims one day to have a career in clinical psychology.

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Somali. This list is insightful and honest. You share this with millions though they may not have been able to articulate it as well as you.

One objection. What is often diagnosed as your mental illness is in reality a healthy persons reaction to their caregivers mental illness.


Thank you! I have been living with my demons for almost 10 years now as well. Although, I don’t agree 100% with you on all the points from my experience, I can see that someone else would. I really appreciate that you had the courage to share this with the world. Lean back and be proud of yourself for a moment and suck that in!
One thing I wish someone would have told me: “It’s ok to feel the way you feel. You’re sick, not crazy.”
I wonder, if depression would be ‘easier’ if it was accepted just like diabetes or any other chronic illness. What do you think?


There is a lot of stigma around Diabetes to, I know I have diabetes and the lack of understanding of one coping with the disease is debilitating, and I suffer depression from having diabetes. Most people who have chronic illness such as diabetes
have depression to.

Astrid 2

I really related to every single point on your list and thank you for being brave and insightful enough to share those. It is a difficult life we lead, but there is still beauty in it. I think the key is to stay connected.


I am amazed you could even have the ability to write this article. I have been suffering for 30 years. I can barely write this. Ugh

V J McCabe

My mother suffered most of her life with Manic Depression, fancy name today is Bi-polar. As a young girl and out with my Mum she would cross the street if she saw someone she knew and would have to make contact with. I remember asking her why because as a kid you really have no idea what depression really does to your life. I first experienced it after the birth of my daughter in 1976, back then no one particularly noticed if someone has Post Natal Depression and most people would say the most hurtful things, as in Snap out of it, you are not the first woman to have experienced this after giving birth. My most hated comment was “You just have to get on with it”, So that was what I did and it led to my husband leaving me when my daughter was only 1 year and a few months old. We were lucky as after 1 year and 8 months we got back together. However I still hid my depression from family members, work colleagues, best friends and only admitted it when I was almost 50 years old. After the Post Natal phase of depression I went on medication and for a long number of years felt my depression was firmly under control. I completed a Counselling Course around 2003 and I honestly still felt that I was in complete control my mental health . The years rolled on then in 2007 I had a complete breakdown. After a long period off work I found a self help book at the local library and bit by bit rebuilt my life. I am now approachng 70years of age and over the last two years have had two very bad bouts of depression, followed by what I did not recognise at the time, two manic phases. Still being naive about this part of the illness, I was feeling 10 feet tall, walking for miles, taking an interest in my appearance, eating a very healthy diet. I honestly believed that I had finally beat my depression, then the crash came and I was back in the very black hole once again. I have now had a further two manic phases and now recognise them and know in my heart that this absolutely fabulous life and feelings is going to be short lived. I was put on Lithium which made me lose my memory, felt like I was going mad and losing my mind and eventually, despite the advice of the medical profession, weaned myself off this awful drug very gradually. This second manic phase has of course passed and I am back where I started.

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