Depression isn’t Just Feeling Sad
Hello readers, well the weekend has gone and were faced with another Monday.
There is always a vast number of facebook statuses and tweets cursing the onset of this particular day of the week, and I have to admit to being one of those number who doesnt like Mondays.
Now a few of you out there will know that I have blogged about my experience of mental health problems before, usually under my alterego Behind-the-mask. However when I started this new blog, I decided to drop the mask so to speak and talk freely as myself.
For me personally, the end of the weekend and the prospect of spending several days without my human security blanket (AKA the husband) usually brings an increase in anxiety symptoms and a real desire to hide away indoors where its safe. Im lucky though, these feeling usually subside as the week goes on. Usually they do, but very occasionally they expand and develop into something bigger and scarier than anxiety.
The remainder of this post was initially written in August 2014 when I was still in the grip of a bout of depression. At the time Robin Williams has just ended his life and there was a lot of media discussion about depression, and much of it focused on how this man who bought so much happiness to others could hide his inner sadness so well. These type of sentiments bothered me at the time (and still do) because of their emphisis on depression being extreame sadness. I wrote this in response to that assumption.
Now apparently this is something I suffer from. According to the doctor I have it, and the list of symptoms match most if not all of what I experience when things escelate beyond my usual anxieties, but I am reluctant to use the term myself.
Not because of the social stigma associated with the illness. Anyone who knows me well will know I am open about being a wierdo. No, my reluctance is simply to do with the term ‘depression’.
It is a word use to describe an emotion, a mood. It implies that the sufferer is down, miserable, sad, and these are not adjectives I would use to describe myself. Usually I am a happy, positive person. For me, the negitive emotions I have related to depression, are largely consequence of the other symptoms of the illness, not as suggested in media reports the main symptom of the illness.
What depression does to me.
Firstly it disrupts my ability to process incoming information. On a day when its really bad, I cannot handle a lot of sensory information. Sights, smells and sounds (especially sounds) appear to become exaggerated and they overwhelm me, causing me to become anxious and scared. This is one of the reasons I avoid people when I am bad. I am trying to limit my exposure to noise.
It also severely affects my ability to concentrate. Try to remember the last time you were ridiculously tired, and that heavy foggy feeling in your head. This is what depression feels like all the time, making it difficult to watch tv, read, listen to music, sew, crochet or even hold a conversation.
Another thing it seams to do is affect the signals my brain sends to other parts of my body. This makes me slow, clumsy. My limbs feel too heavy and often they ache.
The physical sympyoms combined with the difficulties in concentration make even a simple thing like making a sandwich seam like a huge task.
These things combined are responsible for some of the contradictions between how I feel with depression and how I respond to those feelings. I am Lonely, but unable to be around people, bored but not able to do any hobby I usually enjoy. This inevitably leads to frustration at myself.
These very physical sympyoms of depression can have negitive emotional consequences too. Guilt because you feel like you are letting friends and family down, not being able to go out and do things with them. Sadness at missing important events in other peoples lives, birthdays, weddings or other celebrations.
The last, and sometimes most difficult thing depression does to me is negatively influence the way I think. You know that little voice im your head that helps you think, well mine is a total bitch!!
It skewers the way I think about myself, the way I believe others think about me, and my expectations for myself.
I would like to give you a little of the running commentary I have going along in my head as I write this, to try to explain better what I mean.
” no one is interested in what you think, why on earth are you trying to describe depression, your not depressed, lazy more like. Sensory overload and anxiety, what a load of crap, attention seeking is all your doing, thats what this blog is all about, making people feel sorry for you, so you can sit on your fat arse and do even less all day. Heavy limbs, look at yourself, is it any wonder their heavy when your so bloody fat”
So there are my symptoms. I hope you can see that most of what I’ve described is not actually a mood or emotion . Certainly they can make you feel bad and lead to the negitive emotions ive described , but that is the same with any illness. The unhappiness comes from having to deal with the illness, it is no the illness itself.
I am aware that I suffer from a very mild form if depression , but know from my many conversations with people on twitter, that my view of depression is not unique.
I feel that if the emotive descriptions of depression (extreame sadness, lonliness, etc) were less used, and a greater emphisis put on what exactly is happening physically to a depressed person, then maybe the general population would be more understanding, less judgemental……
back to today
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I am for the most part in a much better place than I was last year, but it is something that never completely goes away and because of that I will always try my hardest to help promote a greater understanding of the condition.
As always I would love to know what you think about my post so please add a comment or two.