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I magine you are at the seaside and have gone for a swim. All your close ones are having a great time nearby, frolicking in the water. Suddenly you feel something pulling you down and find yourself below the surface.

No one sees you going under, they continue going about their things as though you’re still there. The current drags you further and further below. You want to get back up there, but you keep struggling against a current that’s simply stronger than you.

The surface now seems so far away. Your friends and family notice that you’re underwater and tell you to just kick your legs and swim back to the surface. You can’t explain to them how hard you’ve been trying to do just that and how exhausted it’s made you. You’d rather they stop trying to advise you, to monitor you, to encourage you to try harder. They’re having fun and you don’t want to ruin it. You don’t want to be a disappointment to anyone. And you start thinking about just letting go. Trading pain for release. And peace. You want to be free at last. Because what you’re carrying is so destructive.

That’s how it feels to fall into a depression. Someone described it as a situation where your mind and your heart have stopped loving each other but still eat at the same dinner table together.

Depression takes a lot out of you. Nothing is ever casual again. Friendships become a burden, relationships become a struggle as you try your hardest to be the person they love, instead of letting them down by being who you are now. Most of the time, you don’t want to leave home, or the room, or the floor. You don’t want anything.

The weight of depression sits there at the back of your mind all the time, subtly reminding you that nothing that you do is right, nothing matters, and that your friends will leave once they figure out who you really are. That your relationship will not end well because it doesn’t deserve to.

But depression has a positive side too. Depression gives you a deeper perspective on life. Honesty in how you see the world. An appreciation of happiness and love like only a hungry man can have for a meal. A willingness to really listen and relate to people’s problems. A greater compassion for how many people you see every day are valiantly holding it together in secret.

Underneath a lot of struggling and a lot of pain, there’s fear. The scariest thing is what people will think about who you are and how they treat you as a result of what you’re struggling with. Those who are battling with depression are seen as weak, lazy, cowardly and somehow unworthy. For some people, it is not very manly to be depressed because a man is supposed be mentally tough. You are told to ‘stop feeling sorry about yourself, there’s worst in life’ or to ‘stop being too sensitive’ or to just ‘get over it and get on with your life.’ This is the wrong way to help someone who is suffering from depression. By saying these things, you are only digging the hole they find themselves in a little deeper.

Nobody enjoys feeling depressive, unable to do the simplest of tasks and feeling disgusted at the fact that they can’t even motivate themselves to brush their teeth or to shave. No, nobody enjoys that, but they can’t help it. Nowadays, there are more and more people suffering from depression among our friends, colleagues and family members, but most of the time we are too busy to notice.

People who are fighting depression feel they are a burden to others. If you want to help, make them feel that they are not a burden. Don’t just say it, make them feel it. People who are fighting depression feel they are alone, make them feel that they are not alone. Don’t just say it, make them feel it. People who are fighting depression feel they are not loved, make them feel that they are loved, make them feel worthy of being loved.

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