Like any two people’s imaginations, there will be similarities of thought and some major ‘default setting’ differences. Of course, that’s not to say that depression is imagined. Such a statement could only be said by a self-consumed individual who is probably in denial of their own issues. No, the nuances of any individual’s experience with depression is as varied and colourful as the backgrounds, experiences and perspectives of the individual themself.
Depression is a mental illness, and no two minds are a like.
If you have never experienced this, or have no idea what I’m talking about – I’m so, so glad for you. I hope you remain happy, and healthy. But I also offer you examples of what it can be like.
For me, depression is…
…having one small, inconsequential thing trigger an almost obsessive analysis of everything that’s not perfect in your life until everything snowballs into a problem that feels much larger than it actually is.
…being overwhelmed by everything.
…being OCD about getting out of the right side of the bed in the morning. And not knowing which side that is because it changes constantly, without rhyme or reason.
…not wanting to bring your friends down, but knowing you shouldn’t push them away, either. So you fake it, until you don’t really know each other anymore.
…being exhausted all the time.
…your eyes water for no reason. Before you realise that actually, no, there is a reason but you’ve just grown numb to the shitty feeling that your eyes have started leaking.
…not wanting to get out of bed for fear of someone looking you in the eye.
…rare, but completely immobilising, panic attacks on the way to work.
…at times, a near-constant state of confusion. About feelings. About not feeling feelings. About feeling happy when you think you should be feeling sad.
…feeling helplessly alone, despite knowing that the statistics say otherwise.
…wanting to smack people who tell you to ‘just be happy’, like it’s that simple. But also holding out hope that it could be.
…still feeling happy, sometimes. Then often feeling guilty about it afterwards.
…managed for the most part through diet, exercise and good company. As long as that diet can include chocolate and/or cookies, as required.
…not a defining characteristic, just an obstacle that helps shape the traits that make you you.
Depression is a pain in the arse. No need to sugar coat it. It sucks, at times. But
I’m lucky enough to know how to keep my head above water (most of the time). I’ve talked to a lot of people about it over the years, and have had an amazing support network to help me work it out.
If you recognise any of the above traits/feelings in yourself, and you’re not sure what it means, please, please talk to someone. It may be that all you need is a good vent, or there’s a specific problem that you can pin-point and fix.
Feeling your feelings does not mean you’re depressed. But I can’t stress enough how important it is to talk to someone about it. Anyone. Your friend, parents, doctor, partner. I know it is hard. I talked to my dog for years before talk of feelings ever came up with a human.
Until you know what you’re dealing with, it can be hard to find a way forward. And there is a way forward.
If you want to know more, this is a good website to start with. The self-test can be handy to get your head around what it is you think you’re actually feeling.
And, last but not least – know that you are not alone.
amy (at) peonut (dot) com