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Author’s note: this is a very personal blog that I wasn’t sure I would ever publish. I thought that if I ever did, it would need to be the right time. In light of the current situation in our world, I feel that now might be the right time. I also want to say that this blog deals with my battle with depression, and that might be a trigger for some. If you feel it might be upsetting to you, please stop reading. Take care of yourself both physically and mentally, and know that there is help only a phone call away.

It’s a silent disease. People you know have it, and you may be unaware. You do not always know unless they want you to know. Some are experts at hiding it. Even if you know, you can’t fix them. You most definitely can not tell them how to get better. Even if you think you understand—you do not. Depression affects over 300 million people around the world.

I am one of those people.

I have battled with depression from an early age. If I try to pinpoint when it first began, I would have to say it was in elementary school. I remember walking to school and wondering if I died who would come to my funeral. I spent time thinking about who would cry or if anyone would even care. I realize now I became obsessed with the thought but not enough to ever talk to anyone about it.

My high school years were filled with typical teenage angst. I was not unpopular, but I wasn’t super popular either. I seemed to fit in with a wide array of people, so that was a bonus. I wasn’t a big joiner, but I did do a few things. I now wish I would have done more during my high school experience. I will say my high school years were not without tears. I definitely felt things on a deeper level than most of my friends.

I remember going to the doctor because I was sleeping so much and it worried my mother. After some blood work, my doctor declared I was fine. I was a teenager who wasn’t getting enough sleep. Looking back now I know my constant exhaustion went along with my depression.

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I went to dances, football games, and even teen nightclubs. I did all the fun stuff teenagers did. I had a lot of boyfriends. Some were super nice and others were awful. Unfortunately, I never felt worthy of the nice guys, and I often felt like I deserved how the bad ones treated me. I felt worthless and unworthy of love.

I often felt no matter what I did, it was never good enough.

Because I felt I wasn’t enough, I sought out attention in the wrong ways. I allowed people to use and mistreat me in hopes that would make me worthy of love. Makes sense, right? It made me fun but no more worthy of love.

This behavior continued after high school. But I compounded it with drinking and occasional drug use. I’m not saying I didn’t drink or try any drugs in high school—after high school, the frequency definitely increased. As addiction runs in my family, these were definitely risky choices. At the end of the day, I came out of that stage without addiction. Many of my friends were not as lucky.

While my experimentation was short-lived, my reckless behavior was not.

I was only happy when I was out all night long drinking and dancing. When I wasn’t out, I would wonder what my friends were doing? Were they having fun without me? Why didn’t they call me? Did I do something wrong? Did they even like me anymore? I couldn’t get the thoughts out of my head that they were having fun without me and talking about me behind my back. It was an awful dark and sad place to be. Yet, it was a place I couldn’t help but go to. I wish I could say that this behavior has passed, but sometimes it still rears its ugly head.

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I opened my medicine cabinet a million times and thought of all the ways I could make the pain go away. Thank God my mind always convinced me I wouldn’t do it right. In my mind, I always ended up hospitalized or incapacitated, but the demons were still there. I would become a burden on my loved ones and leave them in a constant state of worry.

My love for others has always pulled me from the darkest places.

Every breakup was crushing for me. Even when I didn’t even like them that much. I would stay in bed for days on end. I cried until there were no tears left. All the while obsessing about what my ex was doing. I believed it was better to be in a bad relationship than to be alone.

I stopped chasing losers and found relationships with stability, loyalty, and love. And here I am in the present. I’m married and have two amazing and beautiful children. But my sadness didn’t end when they joined this world.

I can look at them and be in awe of these perfect beings I am blessed with. My heart is so full it could burst, and yet I can still be sad. That’s when it hurts the most. How can I be anything but happy with all the gifts I have? Then everything inside me screams I am a terrible mother and they deserve better. How can I be what they need when I’m feeling this way?

They deserve a mom who can look at them without ever being sad. They deserve a mom who gets out of bed every day because she wants to, not because she has to. I have great days, and I have good days. When I have a bad day, it is bad. Throw some terrible days in the mix, and you have a whole myriad of emotions.

They have seen me in these moods, and it is unfair.

They shouldn’t have to ask me why I am sad, I should be asking them. Another reason why I often think they deserve a better mother. But they love me unconditionally, moods and all. That unconditional love is the greatest love I have ever felt. Most days that love is enough. My kids laughs, smiles, and bad jokes are enough. Those hugs and kisses are the best things in the world.

RELATED: Dear Kids, I’m Sorry I Was a Jerk

Unfortunately, there are still bad days. Days where I am surrounded by all the people I love the most and still feel alone. Those days are the hardest. My heart wonders how I can be surrounded by love but be so miserable. I may never know the answer to that.

There are many things I may never understand about myself. I know I still get depressed, but I no longer cope with it in destructive ways. I cry and I might withdraw, but I no longer wonder if the world would be better off without me. I don’t look for things in my medicine cabinet to ease my pain anymore. I just push through. I have lost friends to this disease because they couldn’t fight any longer. I don’t fault them because their darkness and pain became too great of a burden for them to bear. They left behind people who love them, who miss them, and who will grieve eternally. Not a day passes I don’t miss my dear friend and wished I could have helped her.

One thing I know for sure is that sometimes the ones who seem the happiest are the ones who hurt the most.

Check on your friends and family. They might be suffering in silence. Their burden may become too much to bear. Your act of kindness, your shoulder, your conversation might be the light in someone’s darkness.

RELATED: Check on Your “Strong” Friend, She’s Faking it

I posted this now because people who suffer from anxiety and depression, and even those who don’t, might find this quarantine to be more than they can handle. Reach out to someone each day and connect with them. Now is a great time to reconnect with someone you have lost touch with. April is National Month of Hope, now more than ever people around the world need hope. Let’s reach out and spread a little sunshine into the world.

If you or someone you know is suffering, you are not alone. Please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Previously published on the author’s blog

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Mary McAteer

I have been writing for 20+ years, my first piece was published when I was in high school. I’ve been fortunate to be featured in several publications both domestically and internationally. Writing has taken a back seat to my two AMAZING kids, but now I'm getting back to me!

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