I admit, I didn’t think depression would be a common topic on here when I began this blog. I definitely didn’t think I would be talking about it this often or even experiencing it as severely and consistently as I am.. but I’m figuring out that I’m upset with my diagnosis. I have Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and it’s commonly referred to simply as “depression” but I’m really unhappy with that term and here’s why…
So I believe my first or second post on here was about depression (link to that here; opens in a separate page/window) and I was describing how I thought my writing process might occasionally go. I knew being motivated to write all the time wasn’t going to be easy and having some sort of self-imposed schedule or deadline would be even more difficult to stick to because of my depression. What I didn’t anticipate was not feeling emotional enough about my depression to be inspired to do something with it. You know like when people talk about memorable poets or painters like Van Gogh who struggled with severe depression or other forms of crippling mental illnesses and people look up to them and admire them because they took their pain and put it to words or made it into art. Or how we look at popular song writers/artists who use their experiences (usually with heartbreak or other sadness) to find relatable words to share with an audience in the form of a lyric that sticks with the listener.
Well I was surprised to find that sometimes going through another serious bout of depression means I literally cannot function. I do not eat, I do not sleep, I don’t even get out of bed for like 20 hours since I don’t have to pee or anything because I have literally no desire, motivation, or any kind of reason to move. I haven’t wanted to sit up or to watch funny youtube video, I didn’t want to write pretend song lyrics or poems, I don’t even want to write this blog post. I feel entirely numb to anything except the observation that there is this gaping black hole where my soul belongs and I can see it eating away at me and all the things that make me Me and I can’t do anything about it.
That crippling apathy is actually crippling this time. It’s unlike other times where I would just feel too much. I would feel my pain, my friend’s pain, my friend’s pain about their dog being in pain and I would just feel everything to the point of feeling like there is so much hurt in the world that I could not possibly breathe without also inhaling a massive dose of anxiety and all-world problems at the same time.
But what is it that makes this expression of depression different? Beyond that, what really made me think this past week was an article mentioning different celebrities who had struggled with mental health disabilities and had been public about it at some point and all the ones that mentioned depression, were temporary. Postpartum depression was discussed, depression after a loved-one dies, depression after major life change, etc… but I quickly realized, none of these acknowledged depression can sometimes be it’s own illness and not just a symptom to another illness or due to a specific trauma.
It is true that depression affects about 350 million people each year around the globe (source: WHO website) but while that is a big number, it’s including cases where depression is also a symptom of another disease or illness not necessarily where depression is the end-all be-all disorder affecting the individual. I’m not saying these cases aren’t valid, not at all, but I feel like this language is too constricting. Is my life-long illness the same as someone who is experiencing depression for the first and hopefully last time in their lives?
Please understand I’m not at all trying to say that I have it worse or that shorter cases of depression are any less serious, no, please if you or someone you know is going through a rough time and you think you or they are depressed, seek help immediately. There are lots of resources available to the public. If you’re in school check with your health and wellness center or your normal medical provider. If you do not have one (or do not attend school) look for affordable clinics in your area or use these resources to learn more (if in US). If money is an issue, check out 7cupsoftea, an online chat site that’s there to help. They are not professionals and do not claim to be but some people on here can be great resources or at least provide a safe place to vent. Here’s a list with some links and general terms and resources for the UK and possibly other countries. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or behavior here’s a list of phone numbers you can call (or encourage the person to call) for help hopefully near your area.
links to lots of different countries‘ phone numbers
If you or someone you know feels like they are not in immediate danger but need to talk to someone, there are warmlines you can call (I’m currently only aware of US programs. These are all mostly volunteer based and not professional help rather usually it’s people in recovery answering the phones and helping out) if this sounds useful to you, check for local help by state, or pick any number in red as these accept calls from all across the country.
So I’m wondering if this language is enough because right now, I’m frustrated that when I want to speak up about what I’m going through or when I’m trying to explain this to an acquaintance or someone I know but who doesn’t know me very well, their immediate reaction of course is to tell me ‘it’s going to get better’ or something along the lines of “okay, talk to me when you feel better then” if I’m trying to explain I can’t talk to them because I’m feeling depressed and just cannot do life at that moment.
The problem with that is that it makes depression so much harder to talk about because my depression isn’t going anywhere. So when you tell me “talk to me later then” you’re unknowingly telling me to never talk to you because I’m not getting better and I can’t explain that very well right off the bat without then being dismissed for being pessimistic or overreacting over my depression. That’s the thing though, I’m not. I actually know for a fact that I have lived with depression for over a decade, and the signs only point towards a life with more depression with little to no remission.
So while it’s great that depression isn’t a life-long or life-threatening illness for some or most people, I’m fearful to bring this up because I’m still in a new environment where I don’t know people and I’m scared of meeting new people and when I make friends and I start having a really bad day/week/month/semester/etc.. I don’t feel like I can stop and say “hey I want to be your friend, but…” I don’t even know what the proper words for ‘I daydream about my own suicide and don’t want to live anymore. I’m not strong enough to follow through on my suicide plans right now so I’m most likely going to then daydream about contracting a deadly physical ailment so I can die in a dignified way– soon’. Like honestly what’s the best way to phrase that so people don’t run away?
Instead of trying to have this conversation I isolate myself, I turn away from help and tell myself I’m better off alone anyways so I can only hurt myself and no one else around me. This makes things only about 100xs worse and so much more painful to endure but I don’t think it’d be better if I lied and pretended to be okay all the time. I’ve done that and it was horrible. Both horrible to my friends when I eventually blew up at them in fury over my feeling neglected, and horrible when I had to come to terms with the bridges I burned in my anger.
How do I protect myself? How do I protect the people around me from me? How can I explain how my depression works without ruining possibilities of friendships? Should I even have friends? That’s a serious question, because most of the time, I feel like the answer is no. I feel like there’s a mental health threshold I have to maintain or be above in order to make friendships. Otherwise I think I just ruin everyone’s lives or I burden them with the knowledge that I might one day take my own life and they can’t blame themselves because this is ongoing and never-ending and there is nothing anyone can do about these thoughts or possible actions.
I know this is an incredibly sensitive subject but please if you have any hate towards this, if you don’t believe me, if you think this is a cry for help and want to call me out on it, please see your way out of my blog and perhaps check out the WHO website that gives a pretty basic description of what depression is like and how the worst that can happen to someone who suffers from depression is death, you know just like every other deadly disease and illness out there.
Comment with your thoughts, experiences or anything else you’d like to share. If you have any idea on how to answer my questions please give it a shot as I am completely lost and unsure if answers even exist.
Think of a time when someone unexpectedly told you something that brightened your day or made you smile for a moment, remember that moment, hold on to it and now think about sharing that with someone else.
I challenge you to compliment someone. Tell that person in your class who always has a thought-provoking answer or comment that sticks with you, that you appreciate the hard word they obviously put into studying, or maybe that one person who’s sense of style you admire, let them know. Share a genuine compliment with someone. Help spread a little bit more love that leads to more love and self love.
Always wishing all you lovely readers the best,