You know what makes depression hard? What makes it unexplainable?
It has so many faces.
Sometimes it is crying every day. I’ve had so many instances of sitting in my car, trying to convince myself to stop crying and go into work. I’m not crying over any single event. I’m just sad. No real reason, no way to explain it- it’s just the way I am that week.
Sometimes it is losing interest in everything I normally love. On weeks where I can barely do anything besides get out bed, I force myself to go through all my normal activities- weightlifting, reading, being around friends. I’ve been asked on days like these why I’m lifting if it doesn’t make me happy. It’s hard to explain that nothing will make me happy in this instance. But I know when I come out of this depressive episode, I’ll regret giving up on my passions because of my depression.
Sometimes it is utter panic. My mind and heart are going a million miles an hour. Life won’t slow down and I feel like I need to stop time just so I can manage the little things- making dinner, opening mail, paying bills. The day to day routine no longer feels easy, it feels like chains have been attached to my legs and every step is a struggle.
And sometimes it’s sneaky. I feel fine, except that my head is telling me nobody cares. It’s telling me that I’m alone. I’m sleeping too much without knowing why. I’m overthinking everything, but feeling like my thoughts are valid. I’m overreacting and sensitive but think I have a right.
Depression comes in many forms. It may not look they way you think it does. That’s what makes it so hard to beat and so hard to figure out. To all my friends out there trying to slay the multi headed monster- keep fighting.
This post is for my old friend from elementary school- I’m glad you can see the real me, not the face I put on in school. I love you.
“I wish I could do something.”
I’ve heard this so many times. Friends and family want to help when I’m in a depressive episode. I have no doubt that if they could take a part of my pain and feel it themselves, they would.
But they can’t. And that makes them feel helpless and me feel guilty. But sometimes little things help. Here is my list of what can help if you have a loved one who is down.
-Let them be sad. Trying to cheer them up or make them laugh won’t work. It will probably make them feel bad that you are trying so hard and that they can’t change for you. Let them feel the way they do but be there with them. Let them know that you want them around even when they’re doing their worst.
-Try to understand. Depression is so lonely because it seems that no one understands you. Read books about depression and listen closely if they try to describe it. Understand that their feelings and emotions are not in their control.
-Make them some meals, order groceries or run an errand for them. Depression makes it so they can barely get through the day to day. It overwhelms and feels like the world won’t slow down. Doing something practical goes a long ways.
-Go to them. Often someone who is depressed needs to be around loved ones but they have no energy come to you. Show up at their work or home, even if only for a few minutes.
-Take them seriously if they ask for help. Depression often feeds someone’s insecurities and makes them feel like they are a burden and unwanted. If they ask you for help, it took courage to even bring it up. Understand that it may be more serious than you realize
I’m sure this list is different for everyone. But , the main point is, keep trying. They need you.
Depression is hard. It’s exhausting, hopeless, heavy. Overwhelming. But, the worst thing is that it is isolating. So often during a depressive episode I just wish that I could make the people I love understand how I feel.
Here is my attempt to tell you a few things that I wish you understood.
1. Depression makes my mind go a million miles an hour. I will overthink everything I say and everything you say. My mind will turn insignificant moments or comments into a monster in my head. I can’t make it stop. Even if I know that my thoughts are irrational, I can’t make them go away.
2. I will overtalk things to death. One of the only ways I have to control my thoughts is to talk them through. Sometimes I can calm them down and I am going to try anything to calm them down, even if it makes me seem crazy or over the top.
3. In all likely hood, no practical reason exists for me feeling this way. My dog didn’t die. Nothing bad happened. I woke up depressed. If I had a reason I felt this way it would be better because I could change it.
4. For me, anxiety is right by depression’s side. And my anxiety is physical- my heart is going too fast, breathing is hard and my chest is heavy.
5. Last (though I could and probably will expand this list to hundreds), I feel guilty as hell. I know I’m not fun to be around. I know I’m being irrational. I know I’m acting anti social and being a terrible friend. I know I’m being needy. If I could change it, I would in a heart beat, I hate the way I am.
I’m not giving in to these things. I fight every day to be happier and healthier. But I will have bad days. And on those days, I hope for friends with grace that will try to understand these things.