Depression. That word we throw around so easily nowadays. That word we use to describe anything from a bad day to an overwhelming inability to live life. But as anyone with depression knows, it is much more than any one word can describe.
It slowly takes over a person’s life to the point where they forget how it all began. It is insidious, creeping up and building up over time. Little, unnoticeable things change at first, leading to bigger changes. Then, as if out of the blue, that famous black cloud is overhead.
Depression is when everything feels too hard. When you feel so low that things you previously enjoyed no longer hold that same joy. You wonder how you ever enjoyed anything at all. You wonder what other people have that you can’t get a hold of. You find it harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning. You drag yourself through each day. You find it difficult to go to bed at night. The low is so low that it seems to take over, overwhelm you in a way that you could not have imagined beforehand.
The effort to do the small things is huge. The pressure to do anything is even bigger. People always say you should talk to someone, tell someone, but how do you put words on something so hard to even understand yourself? How do you explain to someone that you want to live your life but also you don’t know how you can? How do you explain that this is no longer a choice, that it controls you not the other way around?
Depression is initially a reaction. A reaction to a life that you never imagined would be yours. A reaction to stress and a seeming inability to change your situation. It is an in-acceptance of how things are or were. It is lack of self-care and a giving too much of yourself to others. It is a deep anger at an injustice or unfairness in life. It is a lack of energy to take any more of what life has for you. It is a deep sadness and regret. It is all of this and much more. We are not always aware of why it happens because of how slowly and quietly it sneaks up on us.
For anyone reading this that can relate to all or some of what I have written, it is no good for me or anyone else to try and make you get help. Yes, at the early stages of depression or with a mild depression things like getting out for a walk, doing something you enjoy or talking to a friend can help. But with a longer-lasting, deeper depression all of these things can feel too hard. This is also what makes it so hard to come out of it alone.
Firstly, there needs to be an acceptance that depression is a part of your life for now. Own up to it for yourself. With depression it is counterproductive to keep pretending to be okay.
Secondly, allow yourself the time needed to get through this; it does take time. There is no magic cure, but as slowly as it developed, it can slowly get better. Before depression it was hard to imagine what you are going though now, just as now it is hard to imagine ever feeling better. But don’t allow not being able to imagine a better future put you off making changes now.
Thirdly, as impossible as it seems to do, you need to get help from somewhere, be it your doctor, a professional or that person that is always there trying to urge you out of this. None of these people will do it perfectly, but they will support you, and you need to allow that to happen. There is always resistance, and sometimes the biggest battle can be making that choice to allow others to help.
Finally, I hope this gets easier for you. I hope you find a way out of this. I hope you get that sense of control back. Lots of people have been through depression and come out the other side. I hope you can find someone who understands what you are going through. Hope is one of those things that disappears with depression, so for now I will hope for you until you find that hope again for yourself.
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Printed in The Mayo News on 01 March 2016.