Depression - more than sad
Being depressed is extremely different from just feeling sad. You cannot just ‘snap out of it’. It is the same as having a broken leg or any other physical illness only you cannot see it, it is a disease of the brain. No amounts of ‘happy’ thoughts and being positive will sort it out. It is real and does not just go away. Sometimes people need to take anti depressants for the rest of their lives and that is OK and not something people should ever judge you for and you should not be ashamed of it. Anti depressants can save lives – it is not a weakness of character. For some reason there is a huge stigma attached with them.
People need to understand depression is not a reflection of your love for friends and family, and is not something they should feel guilty of. Sometimes nothing can help. A lot of the time you cannot explain why you feel how you do. It is just there like a black cloud. So asking someone “what is wrong’ does not help and is often more harmful.
Despite being told other people are also suffering with depression and anxiety does not help, you still feel alone – being told this can actually make the person feel worse.
Most people experience depression during their lives. In most people it is triggered by a life event or trauma (losing a loved one, job situations, illness etc) these situations can lead to feeling sad, lonely, scared, nervous, or anxious. In a majority of people these feelings will pass. For someone with clinical depression these feelings last for weeks or months and in some cases years and are often not triggered by anything in particular, making it impossible to carry on with everyday life.
Half of people who have depression will only experience it the one time, but for others it will come back again and again and will be a lifelong fight and fear.
Depression can vary incredibly, from feeling sad and like you cannot face the world to suicidal thoughts (which sadly are sometimes carried out or wanting to harm your self to relieve the inner pain you fee). Although sometimes depression can come suddenly, like a bang on the head, it can also build up slowly over time. Much of the time, people carry on as if nothing is wrong, ignoring the symptoms, which can makes thing worse in the long run, but at the time it feels impossible to talk to anyone about it. It often builds up and up inside until you explode and you cant manage it any longer on your own and it is out of control. You are scared to cry in front of someone as it will show weakness. Crying is NOT a weakness, it shows strength of showing how you are really feeling.
Experiencing depression is a daily guilt trip – you feel bad for not being able to get out of bed, eat or even talk to anyone. It affects your perception of the world and creates a huge barrier between you and everything else. You see everything going on around you and want to join in but there is a wall stopping you. You feel numb with an inability to feel anything, like living without any of your senses. You isolate yourself from everything friends, activities, life (even if it is something you REALLY want to do) – this isolation makes everything worse and worse still when you finally get to the point of trying to recover.
People suffering from depressions are masters of disguise. Despite now being a therapist, I wore a mask for years, being all smiles and laughter, no one knew what was going on inside me. I remember a photograph of me laughing at a wedding, my mum loved it , but all I could see was the mask and inner turmoil I was feeling. It is this mask that needs to be broken and that habit which needs to be stopped – though that is so so much easier said than done. My mum had no idea this was what I saw when I saw this photograph. It shows depression is not always “sadness” and pills.