I want to write this blog, because I know there are so many people out there suffering from depression.
I’ve always found that knowing about the problems that other people have to deal with helps me cope with mine. I’ve valued people’s willingness to share their feelings and experiences dispite the possible discomfort that sharing them can bring. And I know how much comfort I felt whenever someone really understood how it felt and sympathized. Depression doesn’t feel the same for everyone, but maybe part of this will strike a cord with someone. Ideally, people who have never experienced serious depression will be able to empathize better after reading just one person’s explanation of how it can feel.
I am not currently suffering from depression. Either welbutrin is working, or I am happily taking advantage of a placebo effect. If I am depressed I am unable to write anything for public consumption. I feel too worthless to consider that anything I would ever write would be of interest to even one person on the planet. I also experience brain fogs that seriously impair my ability to communicate clearly. I hope I can remember my feelings well enough and express them clearly enough to make readers understand.
Depression can be like loneliness– A great emptiness that can not be filled. Being with people may at times make it worse, and at other times make it a little better. Often it makes me feel worse when I am with people, but can’t feel any connection to them. Something is broken, and I feel like an alien observing humans of my acquaintance through a barrier that lets sensation, sound, and light through, but even though I can communicate to some extent, I am not amerced in their world.
At other times I do feel present in my life and other individuals’ reality, but I’m feeling so terribly unhappy, that I am not good company. When I feel like I am making others feel worse due to my presence, I want to just dissolve in to thin air, or melt into a puddle on the floor. I start feeling so guilty for existing and thereby inconveniencing or depressing other people that my mood worsens and the spiral down and down continues.
Sometimes another person can break the cycle by staying with me threw it all, and by reassuring me that they will not hate me or abandon me no matter how bad it gets. They remind me that it is the depression that is the problem not me. Remember there is a lost good person somewhere inside that awful mess you’re dealing with. The depressed person isn’t necessarily a negative person who is trying to bring everyone else down to their level. In order to get someone out of a literal hole it is necessary to first acknowledge that there is a hole, and that someone is trapped in it. Telling the person that they wouldn’t be in a hole if they didn’t want to be in there is of zero use. You need to lower yourself enough to see what is in the hole, and then be willing to reach out a hand to help pull them out. You might get a little dirty, but the hole is all most for sure only big enough for one person, the current occupant. You can’t take the depression—the hole—away, so the person might fall back in, but you can help them out, or at least talk to them while they’re inside it.
Sometimes I just needed other people to remind me that I really did exist. Remind me that I’m a person as good as any other—imperfect, but real, and capable of being interested and interesting. At times I just couldn’t communicate well enough to explain how I felt, or what I thought. Sometimes I couldn’t even explain my simple needs or wishes. A depressed person who is not communicating may not be refusing to do so. They might be temporarily incapable of expressing themselves. Sometimes I didn’t express myself because I wanted to spare others from my misery, anger, or rambling nonsense, but usually I just didn’t know what to say, or I simply could not get any coherent words out.
Sometimes I wanted to be alone so the burden of acting like a good human would be taken off of me. At other times I wanted to forget that I existed by sleeping or by reading something that would transplant me from my life to some other person’s. At times just spending a couple hours in a book would be enough, and when I came out the worst of the depressive episode would have passed.
I think that depression can at times mimic mourning. The feelings must be processed and understood. Usually I need to be alone to mourn. I don’t know if I am actually mourning something, possibly myself, my unlived lives, or just sorting things out inside my head.
Depression can cause actual pain. I have felt so terrible that my chest really hurt, ached, felt tight. The feelings could take my breath away. Sometimes I would cry, but sometimes the feelings were nothing like something that would cause tears.
In order to feel alive I would sometimes try to eat things I knew I liked. I would eat too much, because food didn’t satisfy, or fill that emptiness, but I couldn’t find anything else to do. Sometimes there just isn’t anything that can interest a depressed person.
Health is often a significant factor in depression. It is possible to have a feeling of mental well-being while ill, but it is much more difficult. This does not mean that you should immediately attempt to diagnose a depressed person’s “real problem.” Empathy is far more important than a diagnoses and cure. Most of the time there will be no cure. If there is one, it will take a considerable amount of time to find and implement. In the meantime the depressed person really does not benefit from people making them feel like they have done something wrong and allowed depression to happen because they didn’t do certain things to remain healthy. Making an already depressed person feel guilty is cruel and counterproductive.
After providing support and understanding, you can then attempt to help the depressed person figure out what might help them feel better.
We are imperfect people living in a world full of other imperfect people dealing with far from ideal circumstances. Depression indicates that something is wrong, but doesn’t tell you what it is. It can be physical, emotional, environmental, or something else I can’t currently think of. Our brains are just too complex for our total comprehension.
Here are some things that have helped me. I’m not going to claim that these things will help everyone else.
A doctor-proscribed anti-depressant medication is necessary for me to feel some improvement. I would have preferred a more natural solution, but although they work for some people, the ones I tried didn’t work for me.
It is also essential for me to take the proper dosage of my thyroid medication. I have hypothyroidism, which is a well-known cause of depression.
Vitamin D seems to have a huge effect on my mental health. A daily dose of bright sunlight can make the difference between me feeling alive or half dead. Unfortunately sunlight is not always available, and winter sunlight is often not strong enough. I take the highest recommended dose of vitamin D every day that I don’t get outside in sufficient sunlight. Actually, I only take my vitamin pills when I remember them.
Having a purpose in life or just for the day can really help. Having something good, or at least interesting/different, to look forward to is one of the best ways to make it through a period of depression. The event does not have to be big and important. If necessary create the thing to look forward to yourself. Even if it is just the next episode of your favorite TV show it can help. Planning and preparing for something, or learning something new tends to be the best thing for me. What doesn’t help is having someone say that they are not depressed because they keep themselves so busy that they don’t have time for it.
A good balance of alone time and time with others keeps me closer to sane. I really believe that both are extremely important. Unfortunately neither is considered a human right. There have been many periods of time in my life when I did not have any control over my exposure to other human beings, and I suffered because of it.
Everyone’s heard of the studies proving that a sense of having some control in one’s life is just about the most important factor in a person’s health.
Exercise helps if it doesn’t hurt. I long ago decided that exercising because I should, or to burn a certain number of calories is just frustrating and unhelpful. I actually like exercising when it’s purely to make myself feel good. Find something enjoyable to do that’s exercise and benefit from those endorphins. I won’t exercise without either music or company. I remember that a lot of the house work that I must get done is exercise, and it also goes much better with music, company, or a good audio-book.