One of the biggest fears depressed people face is that others will stop listening.

We fear becoming tiresome, that we’re talking about our feelings and struggles too much. Surely even those closest to us will become fatigued.

To express what’s making you hurt can feel like complaining, especially when you remember that lots of people hurt, and some worse than you. We fear that people will see our depression as just an excuse for not doing what they think we should be doing.

And depression can certainly be an excuse – while at the same time being a valid reason. It can be hard to tell when it’s one or the other.

That’s one reason I tend to talk about my issues with my therapist, my psychiatrist and not really anyone else. I’ve opened up to friends and family in the past, and occasionally I still do – but much less so now.

There are times I’ll be alone with my thoughts, wanting to scream or punch a wall. I could text or call a friend, someone I know who would be willing to listen – but I don’t. I don’t want to burden them, so I just choke down the pain and sadness and anger.

That leaves me feeling sorry for myself, which I hate as much as complaining. There’s a song by rapper NF in which he’s talking to his younger self, telling him about the struggles and heartache ahead. At one point he says:

“I wish that I could look at you with empathy

Sometimes I feel like I’ve become what you were scared to be

Which makes it really hard to look at you with sympathy

‘Cause if I’m feeling bad for you, then I have to feel bad for me”

And yet here I am, once again writing about these things for all to see. I don’t do it to gain sympathy, though; I do it because I know some of y’all feel the exact same way, and it always helps to know you’re not the only one fending off demons every day.

Other people don’t like to read about depression or anxiety or other mental conditions. I don’t know, maybe it’s too raw for them, but I know for a fact not everyone cares for this column. I’ve heard this second hand, of course, because criticism is often accompanied by cowardice.

Maybe it’s my sense of humor some people don’t like, which can at turns be acerbic, dark or just plain stupid. Humor is my main coping mechanism and always has been. In fact, I feel like some of the best humor springs from the darkest places inside us.

Humor also provides me with a shield. It can mask what’s going on under the surface so that people won’t see it. We all know that the more vulnerable you make yourself, the more someone can hurt you.

That’s why I’ve been keeping the shield up again. Too many people who have seen behind it have walked away from me. I don’t fully blame them, but I can take only so much of it.

Those people stopped listening, or never listened in the first place. That’s taught me to just stop talking.

Brad Locke is senior sports writer for the Daily Journal. Contact him on Twitter @bradlocke or via email at brad.locke@journalinc.com.

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