This member story was featured in a mental health exhibition in Malaysia titled Return To Light.

I’ve been struggling to find a way to explain my depression to the people around me. I get that it’s hard to understand the battle and how to help someone if you’ve never experienced it yourself. The funny thing is, once I stopped trying so hard to find a way to describe it the perfect metaphor just kind of came to me. This is my experience with depression:

Living with persistent depression and major depressive disorder is like living your life wearing a weighted backpack every day.  You walk through the world collecting things that always seem to find their way into your backpack whether you intend to put them in there or not. You walk and collect, walk and collect, filing the seemingly bottomless backpack until one day you wake up and find that the backpack is so heavy that you can’t even walk anymore. If you are fortunate enough to have supportive people around you they might be able to help you take a couple of things out of the backpack so you can at least stand up. Sometimes you can even find a good doctor or therapist who can help you unload most of the backpack. When that happens it makes you feel like you could run if you wanted to. Imagine if the backpack was completely empty, you could probably even fly at that point right? Well, no, that’s not how it works because the backpack itself doesn’t come off. It’s still weighted and even if it’s empty it still gets heavier and heavier the longer you have to wear it.

The sad part is that nobody notices an empty backpack. Nobody offers to help you carry it. Nobody offers their arm to support you until you’ve already fallen down. My backpack isn’t a fashion accessory. It’s heavy. I could really use some help carrying it.

— Jennifer Howell


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The One Project is a community of passionate creatives, advocates and caring friends or family members working to support each other and change the conversation around mental health issues like depression, anxiety and more with therapeutic photography.

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