About the Nature of Depression
Sunday, June 18, 2017
Yeah, I guess it's time for another disclaimer: Depression is a sensitive topic and this is just my take on it. I'm not setting out to hurt anyone's feelings, but the following is about my own personal understanding and struggle with the subject matter. If you can't handle an honest, yet sometimes painful, opinion, you'll want to go read something else.
I was diagnosed wth Major Depression years ago. Odds are that it has been a big influence in my weight troubles over the years. I've been in and out of various counselors' offices in the past, and I'd be going now if I could afford it. The fact of the matter is that with me at least, it's not a constant thing. Some time periods are better than others, and sometimes I can go for long stretches during which I feel perfectly normal and/or upbeat. Other times I have trouble coping when it feels like life keeps beating me down, and other times I can fall into a depressed slump with no discernible reason why.
And I hate it. People that don't deal with depression frequently don't understand it very well, and that can make it hard to talk to them about it. It's more than a simple sadness. Sadness goes away quickly enough. Depression, not so much. Well, not for me, anyway. It feels more like a vampire has been sucking at your neck, slowly stealing your life away. Yes, I get sad when I'm depressed, but it's more than that. When you're depressed, there can be all sorts of things that you need to tackle in your life, but it can make you have trouble doing even the most basic stuff like feeding yourself or even crawling out of bed. Even if you know that dealing with your issues will make you feel infinitely better, depression makes you feel half dead and unable to deal with anything. Little issues become huge, feelings get hurt (both yours and those of the people around you), and relationships get neglected.
In the spirit of complete honesty, I'm struggling right now. The worst part of depression for me is always that I know somewhere in the rational part of my brain that my problems are survivable. Nothing I deal with is insurmountable. It feels that way, but logically, it isn't. Because of that struggle, it's really hard not to feel like a failure and a waste of oxygen. My brain knows this won't last, but at times like these, my heart refuses to believe it. This sort of thing is why I decided to switch majors last semester and pursue certification as a Licensed Professional Counselor. I want to be able to help people with similar problems to mine because I know just how much it sucks.
The chances are good that if you yourselves don't suffer from depression, you probably know someone that does. If you want to be of help to them, I'd like to offer some friendly layperson's advice, if I may.
1: Don't tell them that it will get better. They know this on some level. Accepting it is the problem. Instead, try telling them, "I'm here," and mean it. That can actually help us to realize that it's already getting better.
2: Listen. That's it. Don't try to fix it, just listen. You'll hear some crap that will likely be shocking or even appalling on some level, but if you can muscle your way through hearing it, you will have relieved some of their burdens already.
3: If they start talking suicide, contact a professional pronto. It doesn't matter if they're joking or don't plan on acting on it. It's better to have them mad at you for overreacting than for someone to have to clean up a premature corpse.
4: Don't be afraid to fight dirty. I'll be the first to admit that there is an inherently selfish aspect to depression. It's hard to care about anything or anyone else when you're hurting that much. Sometimes all a depressed person cares about is making it stop. While trying to fix the depression for them doesn't really help, reminding a depressed person of the reasons they have not to do anything stupid (e.g. kids, responsibilities) can at least buy them some time to either get some help or slog through their slump until they reach the other side.
5: If someone needs the help of medication to manage their depression, try not to see them as a weakling for it. If you can't manage that, at least refrain from commenting on it. The chances are that they already feel bad for not handling their depression without it. Some people legitimately need medication, and being balanced with the help of medication is a lot better than being an unmedicated ticking time bomb.
That's all I have to say on the subject for now. Though I will say that I'm sorry that I haven't been able to focus as well as I'd like on the next installment of my story. I wasn't planning on the postponement, but I will try again to get it to you guys by this upcoming Wednesday. In the meantime, feel free to shoot me some title ideas, because I'm drawing a blank.