Source: New Jersey Herald
Let’s just get this out of the way up top: I have depression.
That doesn’t mean that I’m weeping inconsolably as I write this. And it doesn’t mean that I’m just a sad guy. It means that I have a diagnosable illness recognized by the medical profession that affects my life every day, just as it does about 350 million other people in the world.
There are handy checklists of depression’s symptoms: a persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood; or feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness or helplessness.
But the checklists leave out a few of the little surprises this illness has in store for you:
1. You’re not the only one.
When you’re depressed, you feel unbelievably terrible. You might not want to get out of bed. You might have a tough time concentrating. You might not want to eat. You might feel restless. You may even have actual, physical aches and pains. Surely, no one could have ever felt as low and empty as you do now, right?
Your situation, your pain, is not unique. This is a good thing. Because doctors can diagnose and treat an illness that they’ve seen before.
2. Friends and family members who have never grappled with depression will find it tough to understand what you’re going through.
Some people might try to empathize and help, which is great. Other people might think they’re being helpful by saying things like “Get over it” or “Just buck up.”
You can talk to someone who understands — online depression support groups or a therapist. And when you’re feeling better, you can offer your help to someone else.
3. Your depression is smarter than you.
Anything you try to come up with to outwit depression, that little jerk comes back with something cleverer.
“I really like my job.” Yeah, but it doesn’t pay enough to cover all that student loan debt.
“I have a spouse/partner/family who really loves me.” Oh, gimme a break. Remember that big fight you had last week? This is the beginning of the end, and you know it.
The bright side: With therapy, self-care and, maybe medication, you can start outwitting that little voice until eventually you drown it out.
4. Every day is a struggle.
If you don’t fight back against your depression — actively fight back every day — then it will sneak up and punch you in the back of the head.
Honestly, this is the worst and, well, most depressing part of depression: You may have locked it up, but it’s got a rock hammer, pressure and time, and eventually he will tunnel his way back into your consciousness — unless you keep fighting it.
The work you do every day to combat your depression can help make you feel alive. Your therapist can recommend daily habits and tasks to help with your symptoms:
º Actively taking notice of the things that you’re grateful for.
º Keeping a journal of your emotions and activities.
º Spending time with friends.
In the end, depression really sucks. But I hope these little heads-ups will help you as you step into the ring to fight it.