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My depression tells me not to look at myself in the mirror. That I won't like what I find there. It's better not to look up. It tells me to just brush my teeth and turn around, to get on with my day and not even bother.
My depression tells me that I'm a burden. That my wife and my mother and my father and my brother are all exhausted by me. It tells me that they wish they had someone else. Someone less like me. Because honestly, who would want someone like me?
My depression tells me that I am not enough. That I need to smile more, tell better jokes, clean my house more often, and do more for the people closest to me. It tells me that I'm falling behind and letting everyone down. It asks me "Why can't you just do better?" and reminds me that if I don't step up my game, people aren't going to want to be around me anymore.
My depression tells me to just give up. It tells me I'm not going to be able to achieve the things I should be achieving anyway. It tells me to stay in bed, to block out the world and not answer my phone. It tells me to call in sick to work and to skip showering for today. "Why do you need to shower?" It asks me. "You aren't going to see anyone. You aren't going to do anything. You're a mess."
My depression tells me life isn't going to get better. That I'm always going to be this way. I'll never be normal and I'll never be able to enjoy life the way that other people do. It tells me that I'm defective, and that no one wants a broken human being. I should just give up. Stop trying to rise above this because it isn't going to happen.
There are days when my depression tells me I'd be doing everyone a favor by ending my life. That people would only be sad for a little while, and then they'd move on, free from my moods and my emotions and my issues. It tells me that it probably wouldn't hurt to commit suicide. It tells me that it'd be peaceful, and that all of the weight I carry would be suddenly lifted.
Some days, my depression tells me to do it. To jump out into traffic or take too many pills or sit in my car while I leave the exhaust running in my garage. It tells me these things even though I don't want to hear them. It tells me even though I haven't asked for it's opinion. It just imposes it's will on me, telling me that it knows best.
But thankfully, just when my depression begins to convince me it's right, my hope whispers to me.
It doesn't criticize me or belittle me or direct me on what to do. No, my hope is much different than my depression. It's smaller and less obvious, a faint echo I barely notice unless I focus on it with all my might.
My hope says, "You don't have to listen to your depression. You can just rest. I know you are tired and you are hurting. But you don't have to make a decision today. Why don't you rest and revisit this tomorrow? There is hope. I am here."
And when my hope speaks, my depression trembles. It winces with disapproval, tugging at me like a child throwing a tantrum.
"You're mine!" It tells me. "You can't ignore me!"
And it's only with my hope, this tiny fragment of possibility, that I am able to respond to my depression.
"Not today," I tell it, as I lay down, defeated.
That's when it begins to fade. And as it vaporizes like a mist into the air, I reach out my hand.
"Hope?" I call.
"Yes?" it responds.
"Please don't leave me," I beg.
And as I drift away into the blackness of the night, I swear I can feel my hope cradling me like a warm hug after a long night spent lost in the cold.
Finally, there is relief. My depression is silent.