Living With Depression

Hi.

I know it’s been awhile since I last posted, but I am trying really desperately to get back into the swing of thing. You’re going to have to bear with me a little bit though.

I want to explain to you why I have been gone from the blogosphere for so long. My last post I said that I was going through a hard time. Well, that wasn’t a lie, but it definitely was an under-exaggeration. What I have neglected telling you all is the cold hard truth about my depression and how it affects me. So, if you’ll give me the chance I’d like to tell you some facts about depression and then explain how it individually affects me.

Depression (Major Depressive Disorder) is a mental illness. It is just as real as cancer or diabetes. There are two types of depression: situational and clinical. Situational depression is caused by events in your life and the environment you are in. Clinical depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain, often caused by a lack of neurotransmitters. Usually, people with Major Depressive Disorder have a mix of the two types. In order to diagnose this mental illness, you need to be exhibiting a certain number of symptoms for a period of at least 2 weeks. This should not be confused to mean that it goes away in that short of a time frame. Periods of depression can last anywhere from 2 weeks to multiple years.

With all that in mind, I’d like to paint a picture for you.

Think about your daily routine. You wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, brush your hair. Eventually you go to work or you go to school. You do your job. You study for that one test which you’re worried about. You eat lunch. You do more busy work. Once your work/school day is done, you probably drive home. You turn on the television or pick up a book. Eventually you eat dinner. Then, at the end of the day, you go to bed.

Now, imagine that you woke up one day and all your clothes were weighted. You feel the pull on your shoulders and legs as if gravity had intensified only on you. You struggle to carry the weight but you know you have your daily routine and many things to complete before the end of the day. You push through the hardship to get ready. Then you leave the house and head off to complete your obligations. About half way through your day, you are really starting to be bothered by this change from your routine. The weight is starting to make your body ache and you find yourself being hyper-aware of it every time you have a second to spare. Any extra tasks your boss or teacher asks of you irritate you because you are already off-put by the weight. After a few more hours, you get to go home. You remember that your favorite television show is on, or you realize you just got to a great part in your book yesterday. But when you get home you are just so exhausted from the extra pressure put on you today. You find yourself bothered by any small thing. You lay down on the couch and try to relax but you are still feeling the wrath of gravity as it tugs on you. It makes it very hard to unwind from the day. You find that the weight is bothering you so much that you have no desire to eat. All you want is for this weight to be gone. Eventually, you decide to lay down in bed. Maybe that’ll help. You find yourself tossing and turning every couple of minutes. You just can’t seem to get comfortable. Soon, you look at the clock and realize that it’s past when you usually go to sleep. You find yourself hoping and praying to anyone and anything that things will return to normal tomorrow. Finally, after hours of laying there, you are so achy and exhausted and mentally tired that you pass out. The next morning, you wake up in the same weighted clothing that you fell asleep in.

This is the absolute best comparison I can give to what depression feels like and how it affects me. The biggest difference between this example and the real thing is that, with depression, it’s mental pain. And the more mental pain you build up, the more physically exhausted you find yourself. It’s common for someone who’s depressed to get sick and to be fatigued because there is a strong connection between the mind and the body. There are times that it’s hard to get up in the morning and do anything. There are times I can’t find any appreciation in the people and things which I usually love and enjoy.

And then, often times, when you express this to most people, they don’t understand so they give you empty sentiments. While it is intended to be positive, one of the least effective things you can tell someone with depression is: “Just cheer up. Things will get better.” The person saying it is trying to help. But, the person with depression can’t usually see that light of hope. They are too tired and too hyper-aware of the mental weight they are carrying around. A better way of support for someone with depression is to just be there for them. Tell them that you love them. Tell them you are here for them and will continue to be there for them. Let them cry on your shoulder and don’t judge them. Don’t take it personally if they say something hurtful to you under the influence of their depression. 99% of the time, they didn’t mean it or didn’t mean to say it in a hurtful way. And if the situation seems to become dire, get them help. Ultimately, that’s the best any common person can do to help.

I am just hoping that this post helps you all to understand a little better what I’ve been dealing with. And for anyone else out there with any mental disorders, not just depression, know that you are not alone. There are so many people in the world who love and value you. I love you and I don’t even necessarily know you. So, keep your head up and everybody have a great rest of your day!

-KD

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