The Truth About Depression
Everyone experiences depression differently, so I feel that it is time for you to see my take on this 'condition' if that is what it is. As of the time that I am writing this, I have been fighting against my current bout of depression for many weeks. During this struggle, I have taken the time to try and figure out my situation. I hope that I can someday identify the problems within myself that lead to this situation, and possibly avoid them. Barring that, I hope that what I have been going through, and the subsequent thoughts on the subject, can be used to help others. Now with that being said, let's get down to business.
We've all seen the commercials on television stating that "depression hurts" but I believe that even though that statement is true, it doesn't go nearly far enough to convey how it feels to actually BE depressed. The pain that is felt by one that is truly depressed is not one that can be alleviated by pain medication (even though many would disagree with me on this point), nor by an adhesive bandage, a heating pad, or even an ice pack. There is nothing that can physically be done to fight the cause of these problems. All of the modern 'treatments' that are offered are designed to battle the symptoms until we forget that there is even a cause. If you cannot sleep due to depression, they give you sleeping pills. If you are anxious, you get anti-anxiety medications. Angry? You get downers and some time in anger-management if you have too many outbursts. Suicidal? They dope you up so much that you are too zonked to find the knife, or even your own wrist for that matter. The pills are not the answer. In fact, they may be a large part of the problem. I know that many of you may have been on the medications, and they may have 'helped' you. In truth, they may have alleviated the symptoms long enough for you to deal with their underlying cause on your own, but that is a case of the exception proving the rule. Many people never get to deal with the underlying cause of their depression because they are too heavily medicated. To those of you that have managed to work through your depression either with help or without, I am glad that you have succeeded in your struggle. I have nothing but admiration for you.
For everyone else, I can only say one thing: You are not alone. Most people would say that they have felt some level of 'depression'. However, many of these people have simply experienced what could be considered 'low mood'. The difference is that 'low mood' means that you feel 'down', 'unmotivated', and 'disenchanted' with your life. 'Depression' means that your mentality has reached a point where desperation over your situation has set in and self-harm begins to seem like a viable option out of your troubles. In fact, when it feels as though everything else is out of your control, self-harm becomes a very attractive option because it is one thing that a person feels that they can control even when control over their own mind seems out of their reach. I speak from experience. Many times have I sat looking at what I perceived as the ruins of my life and looked for comfort in the blade. At least once have I began to walk through that door. I will not bore you with the details. I say that just so you know that I speak from experience. I know what it feels like to be 'depressed' and 'suicidal'. Now, let's take a look at what a person (this person, at least) goes through with depression. I know that everyone experiences it differently, but I can only speak from my own perspective.
Physically, I feel like jumping out of my skin. I know that this term is usually used to express surprise and terror, but that's not what it is like at all in this case. I sit in silence, unmoving, and I can feel my muscles twitch and want to move. I can feel myself wanting to jump and run away from myself. I can almost see myself leaving me where I sit. It is a very strange feeling. I recognize this as a desire to 'fix' what is wrong in my life, but there is very little that I could do with my hands, so I sit. For those that say that I may be trying to distract myself, all I can say is that even when you are fully engaged in a task, the depression works it's way through everything that you do, and it's always right below the surface. There is no running from it. Not even in sleep, because depression tends to rob you of the restful sleep that might actually help. Taking sleeping pills tends to knock a person out where they are not experiencing actual rest, but rather skating the edge of oblivion. That's no way to 'rest'. When you are in a deep depression, you tend to be more 'on edge' than you normally are, so that you tend to snap at people that want nothing more than to help you. You drive away the support structure that you so desperately need at those times. In a way, depression is a self-defending condition. You lose the structure and closeness that you need to get out of it, as well as the rest and feeling of being 'centered' that you need to rebuild the burnt bridges that lay all about you. I'll get to being 'centered' in a little while. You find your eyes darting around looking for any 'threats' due to the heightened anxiety levels, and you tend to 'fidget' about. Even though this may be good to burn a few calories, it tends to make those around you a bit nervous, agitated, or even more inclined to vacate the vicinity around you. You will find yourself walking from one area to another and back again looking for something that you never find. You feel restless and somewhat useless, which just adds to the depression. If you have a tendency to grind your teeth when under stress, then you will begin to do this to a larger extent, even during the few bits of sleep that you manage to grab. Your eating habits suffer, since you are less inclined to put time into a decent meal, and instead just eat whatever is handy, which is rarely good for your overall health. This can lead to a generally upset system, which can make you feel even worse. You get the idea. Now we go deeper into the effects of depression.
Emotionally, there is nothing like it. You begin to feel a level of loss that a person is hard-pressed to put into words. Remember, this is coming from someone that has already written nearly two pages saying basically "depression sucks, and here's why". That should tell you something. You feel cut-off from those that you care about. All of those little doubts that you don't pay any attention to under a normal mindset start to become large as life. That includes doubts about those around you as well as those about yourself. You start wondering what your 'significant other' (if you are lucky enough to have one) sees in you, and if you are really being a fulfilling part of their life. You start wondering why , if you truly care for them, are you subjecting them to the mess that is you. You start growing distrustful of everyone around you. You start seeing ultimate rejection in minor actions like missed phone calls and shortened conversations. Even though you know that all you are witnessing is the normal busy lives of those around you, you find yourself seeing much deeper than a person really should. On one level you know that these thoughts are unfounded and somewhat embarrassing, so you keep them to yourself because you believe that the last thing you need at this point is to feel even more foolish in front of your friends. However, there is another level that believes these things without question, and the fact that you keep this to yourself just allows it to fester and grow. After awhile of this, you really do start believe these things are happening, and even when those that care about you ask what is wrong, because it does become noticeable, you hide your thoughts and your feeling because you have began to distrust them. You are convinced that they just want to know so that they can ridicule you. Even though there is still a part of your mind fighting against this idea even now, it is becoming an ever-smaller minority in your head. You start seeing strangers where you once saw friends, and loss where you once saw love. You start shutting yourself off from those around you because the emotional pain of what is happening to you becomes too much to bear, and you are unwilling to pile more on top of what is already there. Even your closest friends will stop asking what's wrong with you if you put up a wall often enough. You are convinced that you are putting the wall up not only to protect yourself from hurt, but to protect those that you still care about from the confusion and pain that you see in yourself. The thing that you fail to realize at that point is that the wall hurts them more than anything that may be festering in you. Then the small crack that has formed with the building of this wall starts to spread, and if left to grow, it can become a chasm that is impossible to cross. Of course, I speak from experience. You get the idea. Depression takes a toll on you physically, makes a wreck of your emotions, but it can truly destroy your mental faculties.
Mentally, you start to doubt your very sanity. This seems like a very natural thing to do, because surely 'normal' people don't feel like this. You start thinking the strangest things, such as if you deserve to live at all. You may start to see things that aren't there. You begin to feel like you are being watched and criticized. You begin to see judgment in the eyes of strangers and friends alike. You may begin to engage in behaviors that are completely outside of your character just to see if there truly are people paying attention. You may start saying and doing things that are not within your established 'normal' behavior. Some of these things may be ways to see who is paying attention, but others are ways of shutting yourself off from what you perceive as your world. After you have shut yourself out of your world, you start to feel that it may be okay to shut yourself out from all worlds. It's at this point, after you have given away every part of yourself, that you begin to think about self-harm. When you have shown yourself that you can back out of your world with no real consequence, you begin to see that you weren't that large a part of it anyway. It's right about this time that you realize that you weren't really in control of your life. It was really just a balance of other people that you thought of as your friends, family, and even associates. There is very little of 'you' in 'your life' and it gets too big for you. When you feel this overwhelming loss, you hit bottom. You clutch for anything that you can still claim as yours. When you are unable to find it, you find that there is still one thing that you have control over. You can effect yourself. As you have realized at this point, there is very little of 'you' in life, so what does it really matter? You are in never-ending pain, sorrow, and pure agony so what could be wrong with finally taking a stand in the only way that you have left? Many people feel that those that are suicidal are being selfish and that they are only thinking about themselves. This is not really the truth. They are seeing the pain and the torment that they are feeling and they are unwilling to spread that to the people that, even now, they still care about. They are able to do one thing that can end the suffering, for themselves and those around them, and they are now willing to do it. So the next time you call someone that is actively suicidal 'selfish' remember that they have not come to this point lightly, and that the last thing that they need is someone telling them that there is one more thing that they have screwed up. It may not end the way that you would like. When you get to the point of overcoming the genetic programming of self-preservation, the only thing that others can do is try to remind you of the positive bonds in your life. If that doesn't work, then all that can be done is to be restrained. If this occurs, you will feel cheated, and you may start to hate those that have shown you love. Hopefully this will pass when you are more 'yourself', that is if you ever actually get back to this point. If not, then there's really nothing more I can say, because you will have found another escape and you will be beyond my words. You will have allowed yourself to be completely controlled by hate and despair, and that is a LONG road of recovery, even if you choose it. Let's hope it does not come to that.
Of course, you could also sit at the computer and write pages on depression in an attempt to help yourself, or failing that, others. After all, that's what I'm doing. I guess what I'm trying to say is, try to understand those that are in your life that are suffering from depression, and try to show them that they are not going through this fight alone.