Clinically speaking, depression is an episode of sadness or apathy along with other symptoms that lasts at least two consecutive weeks and is severe enough to interrupt daily activities. Depression is not a sign of weakness or a negative personality. It is a major public health problem and a treatable medical condition. (I got that off of WebMD.) But what is depression to me? Well, it’s kind of my life.
I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder about six months ago. Depression affects everybody differently, and for those lucky enough not to have it, it can be difficult to understand.
I hear lots of “encouragements” on a day to day basis. (I put encouragements in quotations because, surprise! They’re not actually encouragements.) When people say things like, “Cheer up!” or, “Just be happy!” it makes me cringe inside. Oh! You said to just be happy? Okay! Thanks, I’m cured!…
No, that’s not how it works. (BTW, there is no ‘cure.’)
If I had a choice, I would not choose to be this way. Depression and anxiety affect my day to day life. It makes simple, mundane tasks sometimes impossible. And the frustrating part is, I can’t help it. It’s just the way I am, and that’s the thing that people have difficulty understanding. Depression is a serious illness — just like diabetes or heart disease. Expecting positive thinking to cure depression is like expecting a person with diabetes to lower his blood sugar level by thinking happy thoughts. Most people need treatment to beat depression.
Depression doesn’t just affect your mind. It also can affect your body. Different people can have different physical symptoms when they are depressed. Some people may overeat — or may have no appetite at all. Others may have trouble sleeping or may sleep too much. Some people who are depressed may have headaches or other aches and pains, cramps and stomach problems, or fatigue and difficulty concentrating.
Depression is not cute, it is not a fad or a term to be used lightly. I’m sure you’ve heard people say, “I’m so depressed!” when really, they’re just sad. Now, you’re probably thinking, “Wait.. isn’t that the same thing?” No, it’s not. Sadness is something we all experience; it’s a normal, human emotion. We experience it when something unpleasant happens in life—a loss, a disappointment, and so on. Sadness is what happens when you get into an argument with someone you love. Sadness is what happens when you’re stood up for a date. Sadness is what happens when normal events occur in ways that are hurtful.
However, sadness is not constant. Sadness is not an every-moment-of-every-day thing like depression is. Sadness relents, depression does not. Sadness may last for what feels like a long period of time, but it does not remain constant for weeks or months.
There. Now that you’re a little bit educated, let me tell you what depression is like for me personally.
Depression is being called lazy because I am unable to get out of bed on some days. Depression is crying.. for no reason whatsoever. Depression is having suicidal thoughts. Depression is pushing people away, for their own protection (from myself). Depression is not being able to sleep. Depression is eating a lot, or not at all. Depression is feeling worthless or guilty. Depression is becoming irritable or angry without cause. Depression is being unable to have a functional, romantic relationship. Depression is being too tired to have a social life. Depression is getting migraines and stomachaches. Depression is life-altering.
(Remember, ^that is what depression is for me, not everybody.)
While my life has drastically changed since being diagnosed, there are ways to treat this unrelenting illness. I am on an antidepressant and anxiety medication. It has helped A LOT. I also use poetry, music, reading and writing as means of coping with my depression and anxiety. I also have friends and family who care about me, and I appreciate them every day of my life. It would be so much more difficult without their love and support. While they may not understand some of my thoughts and actions, they do the best they can to be there for me. I adore them for that. Even though I have depression, I can still laugh and smile and marvel at beautiful things. My illness just makes those things hard to do sometimes.
If you know someone who may be feeling depressed, please don’t try to ‘cheer them up’. Get them the help they need. Listen to them, take them seriously. Be there for them. Depression going untreated can result in suicidal thoughts. Please don’t let it get that far. I was lucky enough to have someone to confide in about the problems I was having. It may have taken me years to do, but I’m getting the help that I need.
Depression is a serious illness not to be taken lightly. Please be sensitive about this subject matter. Thanks for reading. xx
(DEPRESSION DEPRESSION DEPRESSION. Whew, I said that word a lot. Okay, I’m done now. Have a lovely day :))