over the past week the internet has been flooded with stories about depression. lists on how to talk about it. lists on what not to say. lists on how to recognize it. stories about who it affects. why it affects. what it does and how it does it. people get scared. people try to understand.
there are a lot of things that people don’t understand about depression. a lot of things that i think they think they understand. but out of all this coverage and teaching the internet world is trying to do, there is really only one thing i would want people to try to grasp a little more strongly.
depression is not a feeling. it is not sadness. sometimes depression and sadness walk hand in hand - but often times they don’t even walk down the same road. i hear people often throw the word around to describe how they are feeling…’i’m so depressed today’ they say. but thats not really how it works. that implies that it comes and goes. that is can be turned around with a smile and an ice cream cone or a happy conversation. thats not always the case. its a whole lot bigger than that.
when times aren’t so great depression grabs a hold of your entire life and seemingly holds you hostage. This video was shared on Facebook by a coworker and i think it is a super accurate way to describe depression.
its this shadow that always follows you around. every day. all the time. its not a feeling that comes and goes day by day. its this huge black dog that you can’t seem to ever shake. some days are really good. some days the shadow hides or stays home or is super teeny tiny and you don’t even notice it. and then with the snap of a finger the shadow can engulf you. depression is not something that you can will yourself into making go away. people too often just assume that if they give a few days or weeks you’ll be happy again.
people are trying these days to make depression seem like other illnesses - because it is an illness - so they say people are ‘fighting depression’ which can be a difficult phase for people. when you say you fight something it implies that there will eventually be an outcome. you either lose or you win. if you aren’t winning fast enough you feel guilty and you slip backwards. depression isn’t always a disease like cancer where you can beat it down until its completely gone. you can learn to cope, to be happy and manage, but you can’t be cured. not like that.
depression is a funny thing - it affects people with blatant disregard for their circumstances. you don’t need to have had a bad day to be depressed, or a bad life. you could have the best life in the world and still be depressed. its not circumstantial. people don’t understand that.
depression doesn’t always make you sad. it makes you empty. it drains you of hope. it leaves you unable to feel excited. it makes you not care about anything. your job, your family, your friends, whether you leave your room or not. it creates this vicious cycle of you not caring about things…then to feeling anxiety about having to the things…to just deciding not to do any of the things..to feeling guilty about not doing the things….until its gets so exhausting that you don’t want to be around people because it becomes too hard sometimes to keep pretending that you enjoy the things that you no longer enjoy.
so i guess i just want people to understand that you don’t just get depressed for a few days - its something that you have. its an illness. its something that you learn to live with and deal with and just try to have good days. its not something to be joked about or thrown around lightly. thats what i want all these articles to really be teaching. because through the tragedy of losing people in the public there is a chance to educate others.
if you want to really understand - this writer does it really well…with comics to keep you interested.