What does depression look like? I know what textbook depression looks like but does that mean that’s the only way one can be if experiencing depression or a form of it?
Textbook depression looks like insomnia or oversleeping, excessive eating or lack thereof, a sense of hopelessness, depressed mood, crying spells, suicidal ideation, and so on. That’s some of the things the DSM 5 states that determine if a client/patient is suffering from depression. To further paint this picture, this could be not getting out of bed, isolating yourself from friends and family, uncontrollable crying and not knowing why, having a lack of interest or ability to do the things you previously enjoyed doing etc. This sounds familiar, right? That’s because this is what they tell you about depression and what’s broadcasted most often. What they don’t tell you is depression has many faces and it never stays the same.
Depression can look like going out of your way for people because you know what it feels like to not to be thought of, it can look like listening to your friend cry for hours and when it’s your turn swearing you’re doing just fine, it can look like having it all together but deep down you don’t know what to do so you convince yourself it’ll get better. It can look like going out every weekend and being surrounded by people but feeling like you’re just not there, it can look like wishing your life away but not daring to tell a soul. It can look like always having a smile on your face but the feelings inside don’t align. It can look like happiness buried in despair but if no one looks close enough there’s just happiness.
Depression comes in all shapes and sizes; this post isn’t to scare you but to make you aware that the signs aren’t always there. They hide in plain sight and at times it can be surprising to know a friend or family member you look up to is suffering. The reality is a lot of people suffer silently in hopes that it’ll go away or they’ll learn to hold it together. There are so many resources now to help those that suffer but there’s nothing like connection with an actual human being. There’s nothing that can replace a hug from a companion or hearing someone utter “I hear you” or “I see you”. As humans we crave connectivity, but at times for those that suffer it’s hard to speak up. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family how they’re doing and let them authentically answer. Don’t be afraid of not knowing what to say because sometimes a listening ear and being attentive is all that is necessary. Don’t be afraid to not fully understand what your depressed friend or family member may be going through, offer support and go from there.
Life gets hard at times, I find what makes it easier is having those people around you that can support and push you when you can’t push yourself. We all need that push and also we all need to be the person doing the pushing sometimes too.