Depressed! What it was like for me.
I have always loved the Christmas holidays.
So for that reason, I was a bit confused. Why was I sad this year?
So sad, in fact, that there were times I was struggling to hold in the tears. And times I didn’t even struggle. One memorable day I drove to Harrisburg, tears running down my face the whole way.
For no apparent reason.
Now, although I’m a therapist – have been for years – I’ve never been depressed before, so I didn’t really see this for what it was right away.
Sure, there are family issues that could make me sad. Sure, I was busy, and didn’t really have time for me, and that could be a bit of a downer. Sure, the days were getting darker and that’s always difficult for people …
But me? Never.
At least not until this year.
After some research, I tracked my depression to the recent advent of a new medication, one well-known to cause depression in some people. People like me.
Nevertheless, it was really instructive – this therapist who deals with depressed and anxious people daily, suddenly found herself depressed and anxious. I learned a lot. And some of what I learned helped me understand how truly awful these diseases are, and how difficult it can be to “drag yourself” out of them. I didn’t even want to discuss it with my nearest-and-dearest …. And that’s not me.
And that’s one of the worst things about depression – by its very nature, you don’t want to share it with anyone, so sometimes it’s hard to get the help you need. And often those around you don’t understand what you’re going through.
Here are some thoughts that may shed some light on what it’s like to be depressed, for those with loved ones struggling with that.
People sometimes feel depression is a choice. If it’s chemically induced, then there is no way the sufferer is choosing it – rather it is happening to their body somewhat like high blood pressure or a broken leg. And they really can’t help it.
Depression is more than simply feeling down or sad – although it can encompass those feelings, it’s more severe than that. Often it affects nearly every aspect of life, and can disrupt jobs, relationships and self-care.
Depressed people sometimes feel as if all the joy has gone out of life, even out of the things they once enjoyed. Everything can feel hopeless.
Sometimes people who are depressed have a hard time focusing. It can be hard to follow along when your mind is reeling with sadness or your thoughts are negative.
Sometimes there are also thoughts of worthlessness and lowered self-esteem accompanying depression. People may focus only on the negative and have trouble finding any positives, even ones they have previously felt.
Sleeping may be compromised. Someone suffering from depression may have trouble sleeping, or, conversely, sleep all the time. Their energy may be low or non-existent, even if they’re sleeping a lot. This only adds to the feelings of hopelessness and sadness.
People suffering from depression often have less appetite than before, and their tastes may change. Or they may use food in an unhealthy way in an effort to make themselves feel better. None of these options are likely to help.
As I learned first hand, it’s pretty useless to just urge a depressed person to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and not be depressed. Although that seems logical to the loved one who has never suffered from depression, it’s not possible because the depression isn’t a choice. It isn’t something that the person did or ate or thought about that made them depressed – so they can’t undo it.
People often urge those suffering from depression to “snap out of it,” or try to encourage them that they have nothing to be depressed about. Both of those methods, while often coming from a genuine desire to help, show little understanding of depression.
Depression is a real mental illness. I was lucky, as mine was medicine-related, and the cure for me was to stop the medicine, which, luckily, I could do without affecting my health otherwise. For many, the cure is not so easy or so complete, and depression and its hopelessness become an unwelcome part of their lives for years.
If you are struggling with depression, anxiety or other issues that affect your life in adverse ways, consider coming to see us. We at Sanctuary Christian Counseling want to help you live your best life, and are expert at understanding and helping you achieve health and happiness.
Sanctuary Christian Counseling
9974 Molly Pitcher Highway, Suite 4
Shippensburg, PA 17257