Editor’s note: The following column was written by an anonymous member of the Albany Diocese Catholic Community. 

I come from a great family, full of love and laughter. I am married to a caring and loyal spouse who would do anything to see to my happiness. I have a fulfilling job where I get to serve others on a daily basis. I find great joy in the motley crew of animals and humans who share my home and I am awestruck by God’s creation every time I look outside. I have a strong faith and a support system of both acquaintances and close friends. When I am face-to-face with you, I am one of the happiest people you will ever come across … and yet I also live every day with depression. 

You see me at church, always smiling and greeting people as they come in. But what you don’t know is how badly I am in need of the smile that you are giving me in return. 

You see me at the grocery store, happy to give my spot to the person behind me with fewer items to help someone in need. You don’t know that those small acts of service are giving me a needed boost to get me through the rest of my day. 

You see me at school, working hard to focus and get good grades. What you miss seeing are the hours I spend staring into space trying to work up the motivation to understand why I’m even doing this in the first place.

You see me at work, striving to be the best employee I can be. You aren’t able to see me on the weekends; how utterly lost I am when I have an entire day in front of me with nothing for me to focus on except the thoughts in my own head. 

You see me in your family, the first to give a hug and perhaps the last to leave a gathering. What you don’t know is that once I leave this gathering, the joy I feel here and the energy that I glean off of you will diminish faster than it came and I will be left again feeling empty. 

Depression is like the canary in the coal mine, an early detection system from days of old that would warn miners if there was a poisonous gas leak before the levels of the toxin would be high enough to be of danger to humans. It is a slippery slope that can lead to self-damaging behaviors. The problem is that due to the stigma surrounding mental health, many people who are suffering wait until the pain is nearly unbearable before they reach out for help.  

Why, when so many are feeling broken mentally, whether it be by depression, anxiety or any number of potential mental health challenges, why do we feel like we can’t or shouldn’t need to get help? 

It takes courage to get help, to admit that you can’t “fix” yourself and that just talking about things with friends is no longer enough.  Be courageous. Know that you are not broken. Seek the help you need and if you think for a moment that someone you love is suffering from depression, talk to them about it.   

If you or someone you know needs help, please call The Consultation Center at (518) 489-4431 or contact The National Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-8255 for immediate assistance.