I’m just reposting something I wrote on Facebook a month ago, in case it might help someone:
I’m currently doing pretty well, but depression, for me, has included all the stuff on the right side of the graphic above, plus: lack of motivation, inability to sleep (or to stop sleeping), difficulty caring about anything including myself, and loss of control over my emotions, when I did feel them. Clinical depression is not about being sad, though that is often one of the symptoms. The percentages are probably different for each person; hopelessness was high on my list, while some people feel much more anxiety. I’ve felt everything on the right for sure, and ‘nothing’ was the most prevalent.
If you’re lucky enough to never have experienced real depression, I’m happy for you and I hope you never do. Please look up some literature on how to deal with your friends or relatives who are depressed; sometimes the things people say while trying to be helpful can make things worse. “Cheer up” and “it’ll get better” and especially “you just have to (do whatever)” seem like impossibilities to someone in the midst of it, and nothing anyone says will snap someone out of it, unless they are ready and able, depending on their own will and body chemistry, often along with antidepressants and the like.
When it was bad for me, I couldn’t will myself to cheer up any more than I could climb Everest without oxygen. Getting out of bed felt like it would kill me. The idea of leaving my house, or being with people, was horrifying and scary sometimes. I’ve been dealing with it for 18 years now, and like I said, I’m currently doing well, but that hasn’t always been the case and it might not be the case in the future. My own head has often been the scariest place for me to be, but there’s no escape from myself, so you can imagine how hard it has been at times.
I’m not writing this for sympathy, but rather to let people know what it’s like from the point of view of someone who’s been there, so that if you have someone close to you dealing with depression or anxiety or any other mental illness, that you know it’s often not ‘curable’ just by wanting to make it so, on our part or theirs. Sometimes drugs help; sometimes therapy helps. Sometimes people aren’t ready or willing to use either of those options. Antidepressants are a sticky business and often they can help, but finding the right drug for any particular person can be very trying and can take months or years if they work at all. Sometimes they make things much worse, and it’s just a matter of it being the wrong drug for that person’s body. (The first drug I was put on made me feel exponentially worse, when I felt terrible in the first place.) Some people don’t like the way certain drugs make them feel, or not feel, so they resist using them. The brain is a wondrous thing, but when it comes to emotions and motivation and mood, it’s a damn mystery much of the time.
I’ve been very lucky. At my lowest points, I sought medical help, and I’ve never really felt ostracized, but I know that’s not the case for everyone. Drugs and therapy can be prohibitively expensive, and many people aren’t in any sort of position mentally, physically, or financially to ask for or receive the help they need, especially when they need it most. I know my friends worried about me, a LOT, but I wasn’t able to deal with them or allay their fears when I couldn’t even deal with myself.
I salute mental health professionals who deal with this stuff every day. It has to be exhausting. I was lucky to have many helpful people on my side when I needed it.
Anyway, this graphic jumped out at me and made me think ‘YES. That’s what it’s like!” I have felt like people thought I was just sad, when it was so much more than that, so much more complicated, so much worse.
(Note: I’m unsure who made the graphic. If you know, please tell me so I can credit the author/artist. Thanks.)