It’s a term many use lightly. Too lightly.
Depression forces you to question your world, yourself, and everyone else around you.
However, that’s obvious. That’s what you expect someone who suffers from depression to say.
But here are five things that make depression worse than you could possibly imagine:
1. You can’t always tell people what’s wrong… And what’s worse, sometimes you look ‘fine.’
More often than not, when you are going through a depressive episode, you can’t pinpoint why you are depressed or what triggered such a dramatic relapse or that particular depressive episode.
Sometimes, I see or hear something that triggers an episode. Sometimes the episode lasts only for a few days – with medication and therapy, depression no longer seems as endless and consuming as it once did.
Sometimes, though, it can last for weeks.
Sometimes, I pray to die, truly believing my life is not worth living.
Other times, despite those thoughts, I know what I’m thinking is wrong, useless and unhelpful. I know it’s not true, but regardless, I can’t change the way I feel.
Regardless of whether my depression is triggered by a specific event or not, often I feel I can’t really talk to anyone about it… because what would I say to someone else when I can’t put my own feelings into words?
It’s not that I don’t want to talk about it. It’s just that I don’t know what to say.
On top of which, more often than not, you’ll look fine. Which is actually a disaster, because people have a stereotyped image of how you should act.
When you don’t fit that criteria, a lot of people won’t believe you. It’s a damned if you do damned if you don’t situation: You’re meant to look like someone who can’t get out of bed, can’t eat, can’t do anything… but if you actually are that way, people will condescendingly tell you the problem is that you aren’t getting out of bed.
Because, obviously, the solution to all life’s problems is leaving one’s bed.
2. Sometimes you trust no one.
Depression literally alters your reality, including your perspective of who to trust.
There are days when I’m convinced that no one cares for me. Literally. There are days I truly believe that I am alone.
Of course, it’s not true. I have an amazing husband, an amazing family-in-law, my own amazing family, and some incredible friends who have stuck by me no matter.
But it’s definitely a major side-effect of depression.
Try not to take it personally: more often than not, the person knows it’s irrational, but that’s the point of depression. It’s so hard to tell who will genuinely be there for you.
Plus, people often provide incredibly insensitive advice like, “But no one will love you if you’re sad all the time.” Or, “You’ll start losing friends if you don’t get happy again.”
This is not the way to help someone with depression.
3. Your eating habits will change.
This one seems obvious, because it’s marked as a symptom, but it’s not as obvious as you’d think. Most sites say that you’ll either stop eating or comfort eat.
Despite this, it’s usually not one or the other.
It’s usually both extremes.
I’ll not want to eat for days and, more strangely, never notice – despite the fact that I have a low blood sugar problem and will literally get sick if I don’t monitor my glucose levels and actually eat. (So, for me to not notice is a pretty big deal.)
Other times all I do is eat. I can never seem to fill my empty stomach.
At this point, I wonder if I’m eating endlessly because I stopped eating for three days straight, or if I’m trying to fill some empty, black void.
4. Not just your eating habits change.
Your sleeping pattern changes. I often alternate between excessive sleeping and not being able to sleep at all.
I also love a clean house. I like dusting, vacuuming, mopping the floor, organizing everything, pulling apart my book and DVD shelves every few weeks to clean them with anti-bacterial spray. (Yes, I know that makes me a freak.)
However, I go through bouts of not wanting to clean – despite the fact that it’s actually part of my nature. I mean, my house isn’t pristine. It never has been. It’s what I’d call a ‘homely’ feeling. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like things to be neat, ordered and clean.
However, there are days when I refuse to wash dishes. I just can’t be bothered. Sometimes I can’t be bothered to eat, because then there are more dishes. I constantly feel like there’s no point: why do something that is instantly going to be ruined?
I love cooking, and yet I go through phases. I used to be the type of person who’d see a recipe and create it. I’d send my husband off to work with a different cake each week. I’d learn how to create different types of icing, and different shapes, and make different things.
I’m obsessed with eating healthy. But now, I barely cook. I don’t care to. I don’t see the point.
5. Basic tasks seem pointless.
People expect someone with depression to be I-can’t-get-out-of-bed depressed.
Which has been a thing for me, more than once. I won’t move. I won’t eat. I won’t shower. I won’t dress. I sleep.
Often, when my depressive episode is bad, I put something on Netflix, but I don’t even bother watching it. I listen to it with my eyes closed until I fall asleep. So yes, often not getting out of bed is part of it.
But many people who speak to me wouldn’t know.
It’s easier to hide behind a mask than to answer difficult questions.
But it all falls under the same umbrella: Basic tasks literally seem pointless.
I often think there’s no point getting up to shower, for example. What’s the point? I’m not going anywhere. No one is seeing me. I’m alone. Why shower? Why waste time and energy to repeat the same task tomorrow?
Like with a clean house, sometimes you just don’t care about healthy habits. Why bother showering? I just repeat it tomorrow. I’ll stay here, in my bed, alone.
This in itself is unexpected: How can you not care for yourself?
But the truth is, that’s what it’s like to be depressed. You don’t care for yourself.
That’s the whole point.
It’s the same with everything. Basic tasks seem the worst because they’re the most monotonous. You know what you’re meant to do. You know what’s expected of you.
But it’s kind of like Edge of Tomorrow’s tagline: Live. Die. Repeat. (Except without the dying.)