I know by now you have probably heard about the death of Robin Williams. Coincidentally this happened the very night that I decided to take a break from social media and blogging. In a sense I struggled with my resolve, because his death brings talking about depression to the front of people’s minds. This gives me an opportunity to share. Yet I stuck to my commitment to fast. So I have resorted to writing this post old school style and I will post it on my return.
Like always hearing of someone losing their battle with depression gets me to thinking, sometimes this is a good thing and other times not such a good thing. I was thinking what an opportunity for the church to begin to educate people on depression and how it is okay to seek help. While I pondered different ways for someone else to do this, it occurred to me that there is a lot of people who just don’t know about depression. I will not present a list of signs and symptoms, because you can Google that, instead I want to share based on my personal experiences.
For people who have never experienced depression, many of you probably have the worst case scenario in your heads. I know that growing up and being totally uneducated on depression I thought it described the person who was always sad, crying, no control over their emotions, the one who was always in the counselors office and always had massive drama. I never realized that depression does not have a look, and it could happen to anybody.
I want to share something a little closer to what I have seen to be the truth.
- Depression does not always look like what you see on TV
- Depression is no respecter of persons
- Depression rarely comes on you all at once. In fact, I would have to compare depression to sin. Often when we begin to sin, it is not something we set out to do. Instead it is more like a slow fade from what we know to do, and before you know it you wonder how you got so far off course. In many ways depression is the same you don’t see it coming, it sneaks up on you and sometimes you fail to see it until it is too late.
- Not every case of depression equals a crisis
For each person the signs and symptoms may vary. But, reflecting on my past I have to admit I never thought I was depressed. Many people labelled me as a happy child, and I would have not said otherwise. In the early days of what I now know was depression, I would not have said that I was upset or sad about anything.
As a child I was always different kind of did my thing. Over time though I would often notice a nagging sense of dissatisfaction yet I could never pinpoint a reason. It just felt like there had to be more than this. You would not have known it to see me though. I wore a smile like most women wear makeup and even today that remains mostly true.
As I aged this sense of dissatisfaction was not the only sign though, although I didn’t know enough to notice. I got up and did as I was expected to do, followed my routine, but often it felt like I was going through the motions. I wasn’t really happy, yet I was not unhappy either. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I started to notice problems with not being happy, dissatisfaction that would not go away, isolating from others, problems being around others, and right before I sought help problems with comprehension, feeling worthless, irritable, feeling nothing has meaning, no motivation.
Initially I wanted help because I couldn’t handle being around people without being nervous and shaky, I thought it would be social anxiety disorder but they insisted that I had depression. Even now after battling depression for years, a person must remain ever alert to your personal warning signs or you can be caught unaware by an episode of depression.
The thing is many symptoms are things everyone experiences at some time or another. The problems arise when it is uncontrolled and persistent symptoms. Some common symptoms that I know everyone has sometimes are:
- Feeling oversensitive
- Irrational responses
- Being needy
- Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
- Overeating or undereating
- Racing thoughts
As you can see some symptoms are pretty common, while others like thoughts of suicide are not something someone who is not depressed, or in that stage of depression would face. Some people still argue about whether medications are necessary in really treating depression. I can’t speak for everybody, but I know that they made a huge difference towards getting me to a place where I could function or be happy.
I shared recently that I had come off of my medications. I made it 11 weeks without medications before I began to see warning signs, so I chose to go back on the medication. There is no shame in being on medications and there is no shame in seeking professional counseling.
If you feel like you could be suffering from depression or another mental health problem, please seek help so that you can get back to living the life you were meant to live.