Sunday, January 31, 2010

Inside the Mind of Depression

On my road to understanding Depression I am rolling out a series of posts to raise awareness of Depression. In order to raise awareness I think we need to understand Depression. I asked a variety of people who DON'T have Depression "What questions would you ask to get a better understanding of Depression" and I have asked people who DO have Depression to answer them. Here is just one of the actual response.

1. What needs to change. And how can we help that process happen?

I think the views of depression need to change. I think for some people who’ve had no exposure to the issue it conjures up images of people sitting in a dark room drinking themselves into a coma or slitting their wrists or bouncing off padded walls. And that’s not the case. Everyday people deal with depression – whether for all of their lives or for a short period of time – and I think because of the stigma surrounding the issue they don’t speak out, which of course does nothing to let people know that all sorts of people go through it.

2. Why do/did you hide it?
I’ve hid and still do hide it because of the above. I am still very sensitive about the issue and don’t tell too many people what I’ve been through because I worry about what they’ll think of me. I think I feel this even more now that I’m in business for myself too. My reputation is a big deal these days and I worry that if people notice my mood or see my scars or hear from someone else that I have depression that they will not want to do business with me.

3. What triggered it for the first time or was it a series of events that led you to depression?
I really don’t know. I have been to a million doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors and haven’t found the answers. I’m fairly highly strung and my current counselor seems to think I suffer from PTSD due to living in a violent household growing up. I think there is more too it than that though. I’ve been through some traumatic events throughout my teenage years and even now as an adult which has had an accumulative effect with the PTSD. So, I suppose you could say it started with a violent father and was compounded by years of panic attacks, bullying, low self confidence and even bad breakups.

4. Why is it so paralysing?

The way you feel when you’re depressed takes over everything else going on. It becomes bigger than your job, your family, your friends and even your appearance. It can leave you crying in a heap unable to talk to anyone or see anyone, wondering why you feel how you do, or it can leave you completely numb and unable to find enjoyment in anything anymore. It leaves you feeling worthless and incapable of doing day to day things. Even doing the dishes is too hard. I’ve heard people call it laziness, but that’s just not it. When you feel that way, looking at a pile of dishes is like standing at the bottom of a mountain and looking up at just how far you have to climb. And it’s too hard, so you walk away.

5. Why can't you just snap out it?
You can’t snap out of it because it’s a medical issue. You can’t snap out of cancer or a broken leg and this is no different. I feel that people often don’t think depression is as serious as things like cancer but it really is. And it IS a medical issue. There is a big difference between feeling down every now and then and depression – the difference is a mental health condition that needs serious attention and often medical help. You can’t just snap out of something like that.

6. Intimacy and mental illness does it affect relationships?
Mental health absolutely does affect intimacy. When you’re depressed, you lose interest in most things and that includes sex. Not only do you find it hard to get close to someone, the thought of having sex just doesn’t seem interesting or enjoyable at all. You have zero sex drive and it can have such a negative impact on your relationship.

7. Why do you think there is such a stigma?

I suppose the stigma surrounding depression comes from all of the things relating to depression that are so hard to talk about – alcohol and drug abuse, self harm, suicide, etc. People are afraid of what they don’t understand.

8. What's the difference between just being sad and depression
Everyone gets sad. That’s not what depression is. You might get sad because you’re not happy with your job or you’ve had a fight or you’re feeling sick and it’s impacting your mood. The difference is that there’s usually a reason you can pinpoint for feeling that way when you’re just sad. That’s not the case with depression. I spent years in counselors’ offices with them asking me why I feel like I do and only being able to answer ‘I don’t know.’ It’s incredibly frustrating to not know WHY you feel like crap. You only know that you feel that way and you wish you didn’t. People get over sadness. When you’re feeling down for more than a couple of weeks and it starts affecting your day to day life, there’s a good chance it’s depression.

If you feel anything like this PLEASE contact SANE 1800 18 SANE (7263)


Disclaimer: This article was written from a personal opinion and I am NOT a qualified in psychology or counselling. If you do need assistance with emotions or mental health, to seek assistance from your GP immediately.

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