Perhaps the most fundamental aspect of depression is how isolating it is. Chances are, if you suffer from depression, you feel very much alone. Even being in a crowded cafe won’t lessen that feeling of aloneness– in fact, it might just emphasize it as you look at all the people sitting and chatting happily with others.
Depression, I often think, is like carrying an invisible two-ton boulder on your shoulders. It makes everything much harder. Just walking from one room to another is more of an effort when you have major depression. And you know how everyone says exercise is a great treatment for depression? (It really is, by the way.) Well, how easy is it to go jogging or hit the stair machine when you’re carrying that boulder? That’s right, it’s incredibly hard. And don’t forget that the depression has likely left you feeling fatigued and enervated even before you try to exercise, particularly if you are having problems sleeping.
And that brings me to motivation. Depression saps us of motivation. Between the boulder and the lack of motivation, some days just getting the dishwasher loaded is the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest. Unfortunately, the people around you may not recognize that loading the dishwasher was such a major achievement. Instead, they only see (and comment on) the things that didn’t get done.
Activities that were once pleasurable may hold little interest for you now. Remember how you used to like to exercise/read/paint/etc? Now you wonder why you thought it was enjoyable. The same may be true of foods and you realize you don’t have much of an appetite any longer. Sleep may go either way. You may sleep too much (it’s one way of avoiding your pain) or too little (insomnia is a common occurrence with major depression).
Depression puts you in a unique no-win situation. You know people don’t want to be around someone who’s always a downer, so you face the choice of hiding your feelings and pretending to be happy (which feels lousy inside) or you go ahead and be honest and authentic about how you are feeling. If you do the latter, then you have to worry you will drive away the people in your life. And you may worry about leaning to heavily on those people who are supportive. Will they one day just get fed up with your depression? I bet you’ve wondered and worried about this. All of this just makes you feel even more alone.
And on the other end of the spectrum, you have people who mean well but just don’t understand that simply smiling isn’t going to solve your depression. “Smile!” they tell you. Or “Look at the bright side.” Once again, then, you find yourself facing that decision of whether to put on a socially acceptable happy face while inside you feel like you are slowly dying or putting up with people trying to cheer you up. You may even have had people who have had the nerve to say, “Just snap out of it!” Like you wouldn’t have already done that if it was that simple.
There are many aspects of living with depression but hopelessness may be the hardest. Depression can rob us of our hope. Please know that hopelessness is a significant risk factor in suicide. We can tolerate an incredible amount of pain, so long as we believe it will come to an end. With hopelessness, we begin to believe that the pain of depression will never end and that’s a possibility some people literally cannot live with. I believe there IS hope. If you are feeling hopeless, please seek out help immediately, whether that is a doctor or a therapist or a suicide prevention hotline.
I invite you to call me if you are struggling with depression. I can be a safe place for you to be yourself; you don’t have to worry about bringing me down or pretending to be happy. I am very confident that we can begin to melt that depression away, too, even if you haven’t had luck with other treatments or therapies. I understand how hard it can be to make decisions, let alone act on them, when depression is clouding your mind so please know that I will know what a real effort you have made in calling me. I will walk with you on your journey of healing from depression and I will cheer for you when the path is challenging or when your big accomplishment for the day is loading the dishwasher.
You can reach me at (816) 226-4678. I can often see you within 48 hours and sometimes even the same day.
The national suicide prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255. En Espanol, 1-888-628-9454. For the deaf or hearing impaired, call 1-800-799-4889. Or to chat with the national suicide prevention hotline, visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
For support by text, text HOME to 741741.