This is one of those posts that isn’t easy to write. It has been in my drafts for months. When I’m in the midst of depression there is no energy or will to write about it. When I’m not depressed the last thing I want to do is think about how it feels when I am.
I’m going to write this though, because it matters. Before dealing with it myself I didn’t understand depression. I used the term loosely. I had no idea. Now, I think it is important to talk about it. There is a stigma that we need to get past so people can get help.
I heard a statistic in a Fitbloggin session this year that stuck with me. 1 in 4 adults in a given year will have issues that would qualify them for a mental health diagnosis. Think about that. I bet most of you have a friend that is suffering right now and you probably don’t even know it. You may think they are pulling away or they’ve suddenly got a really negative attitude. There’s probably more to it than that. Reach out to them. Please.
Let’s talk facts first.
- Depression is the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorder.
- It is a brain disorder that goes far beyond feeling “blue” and is characterized by persistent sadness and feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness.
- Depression is caused by a combination of genetics, environmental, biological, and psychological factors.
- Once someone suffers from depression, it usually recurs throughout their lifetime.
Okay, bear with me. Nothing can really make you understand what it feels like but I hope I can give you a glimpse of what it is like, at least for me. If my words help one person recognize depression in someone they know or even helps someone empathize, then this post is worth it.
Depression is all-consuming. It is like a weighted blanket that settles over me, holding me down both mentally and physically. Everything is hard. Impossible, almost. I feel sluggish and paralyzed. Getting out of bed is a monumental feat. Curling up, withdrawing from the world, is the only thing that feels safe. It’s all I can do sometimes.
Sleep comes easily. Too easily. When I’m depressed I can sleep all day and night. It’s the only real escape. If I must do something, like work, I am in a fog. There is a numbness, going through the motions. Not really feeling or experiencing anything. I’m not myself. It feels… empty.
Depression lies. It tells you that you are unworthy and unloved and unlovable but worse, it makes you believe those things without a doubt. There is no silver lining. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. There is no bright side. The world and everyone you know would be better off without you. No one cares. It will never get better. These things are not true, but in the midst of depression you can’t see that. You can’t acknowledge it. It’s very convincing.
There are things that can help, but they are only so effective. For me escapism in the form of TV helps. It distracts me, maybe makes me laugh. I can’t listen to music of any kind. It just makes it worse. In reality though, all you can do is ride it out until it passes. It may lift at first for just an hour or two, when you feel like yourself. Then you might slip under again. For me, now, it usually lasts a couple of days when it happens. At its worst it lasted much longer.
Depression sucks you guys. It sucks for the people who suffer from it and it sucks for everyone who cares but can’t make it better, can’t fix them.
If you do think someone you know might be depressed, please be a friend. Your presence, your caring, matters. Even if they can’t recognize it or acknowledge it through the fog.