Depression is a feeling of severe misery and unhappiness. One’s life is highly influenced in terms of how s/he feels, acts and perceives life as a whole. Depression is a longer form of mental illness or may be considered a prolonged sadness. When we are depressed, we feel sad about everything and anytime. It might occur in the absence of any triggers. If ignored and untreated, symptoms of depression may last for a long time.
The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 300 million people suffer from depression worldwide. In the United States alone, more than 15 million people (or 6.7% of the population over the age of 18) suffer from a major depressive disorder (depression).
World Mental Health Day 2018
The theme of World Mental Health Day 2018 which is celebrated on 10th October is “Young people and mental health in a changing world”. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), half of all the mental illness begins by the age of 14 but most of the cases are undetected and untreated. Among those illnesses, depression is the third leading cause.
Marking the World Mental Health Day 2018, I thought of sharing my story related to mental health.
Depression and Sadness
Quite often, depression and sadness are considered similar things. I used to think the same. However, they’re vastly different subjects.
Sadness is a basic human emotion and is a natural reaction to the situations. The feeling of sadness is triggered by a difficult, hurtful, challenging, disappointing events which also means that like any other emotions, sadness is temporary and fades away with time and changing situations.
Similarly, depression is a mental illness that affects our overall well-being in terms of thought process, emotions, attitude and perceptions. Like sadness, depression doesn’t require any specific reasons to feel sad or bad. Any events or life experiences can be a trigger point for depression. And it is not temporary like sadness is. Depression makes a person frustrated, less enjoyable towards life, feeling of worthlessness, impatient and vulnerable to breaking down.
I had watched a video in which depression is explained. And it’s so convincing. Here it is:
“Depression is not just sadness. It’s a load that keeps you in bed. Sadness is a tangible feeling. Depression makes you hollow inside out. They might look alike. Sadness can be explained. Depression is unexplainable and leaves us silent. It makes us stuck. Isolates from what you love.”
After reading these and getting to know the differences between sadness and depression, I came to realize that I was a victim of depression as well. Sharing the times of darkness and complete distress.
“Sometimes, you need to be alone. Not to be lonely, but to enjoy your free time being yourself.”
I believe I’m more of an individual guy rather than a group person. So I’m more creative and productive when I am alone. But during that dark times, I started feeling lonely while I was alone. The hatred and annoyance had already risen towards the group and so I preferred being alone most of the times.
Little and tiny things got me down.
I was easily frustrated, annoyed and felt sad about the things that I was once comfortable and tolerable. Even though the things were minor, they were making me feel awful. The state of mind degraded every passing day and frustration mounting. As a person who’s resilient and a fighter till the end seemed a loser and that feeling was killing me even more.
I didn’t want to be a loser and every day I was becoming one. Every day when I woke up, I felt worthless and loneliness persisted even more.
The darker past used to be a motivating factor but when the present was gloomy, I saw no brightness coming ahead. Sometimes, I used to think the journey is going to be in the shade until the end.
“You smile, but you want to cry. You talk, but you want to be quiet. You pretend like you’re happy, but you aren’t.”
This was what I exactly felt. Adding even more trouble was living in the illusion of being happy. I couldn’t cry, the mind was roaring inside out and I couldn’t keep it quiet.
“And in the end, all I learned was how to be strong…Alone.”
Symptoms of depression
- As mentioned above, I was easily irritated, frustrated and even the simplest of things could make me angry. This behavior had led me to self-harm in many instances and increased the feeling of depression.
- The critical inner voice became so powerful and destructive influence in my state of mind that I felt like I was a failure and loser and worthless, confidence was considerably lowered. Positive self-talk was gone and stagnant negative thoughts hovered around.
- Socialization, sports and putting an effort into work are some of the things that I really love doing. But I had lost interest in those things too. At one point in time, I would love to join friends circle and sometime later, I wanted to isolate from them and be with myself.
- “Constant fears, anxiety and ruminating will lead to difficulties with staying or falling asleep.” Normal sleeping time was 10-11 PM and I’d wake up at 6-7 AM. But I had a tough time falling asleep and there were also the times when the nights would pass without a blink.
The peak time when negativity hits real hard.
And besides, the difficulty of falling asleep, waking up is another tough job to do. Even though I was called by my mom or brother or sister many times and alarm clock ringing countless times, I couldn’t wake up. Arrgghhh! Insane…
- Feeling of fatigue: “Depressed peoples’ bodies act as though they are under constant stress, which can lead to inflammation, which in turn can contribute to feelings of fatigue.” I had the feeling of tiredness for no reason, sluggish, physically and mentally drained all the time. Poor reaction times, slowed down walking and expressions being slower and loss of memory power was some of the consequences I had to undergo.
- Overeating: Once there was a time when I felt like eating everything. I don’t remember having an appetite but I was hopelessly eating anything that’s in front of me. Some people do lack appetite and don’t feel the urge to eat anything.
Am I depressed?
Many people are confused about whether or not they are depressed. Some mistake depression for sadness and some are unknown about their state even if they’re actually depressed. One can understand their state of mind with above-mentioned symptoms if they are depressed or not.
Taking a depression test is another important way of knowing if someone is depressed. This is how I knew about my status. Depression test mainly measures a person’s sleep cycle, appetite, tiredness and exhaustion, self-esteem, concentration power, weight gain/loss, changes in behaviors with other people etc.
My depression story!
As a person who grew up being an extrovert, outgoing and social, I hadn’t even thought of being this guy! The guy who’d fear seeing people and limit himself within the chamber of four walls; like a deer trying to get rid of Tiger. From being the one to lead social circle, meeting up too often, partying at least once a week and now a guy who’s even scared when he gets a call from a stranger. It is totally unexpected but this is how it is!
Currently, the state of mind is totally clear; I know what I am doing with my life. I know exactly what’s working well and what’s wrong with my life. It was tough but I was able to make action plans in order to overcome those obstacles.
But here, the bizarre thing is I’m stuck somewhere; I don’t know exactly where it is. Whenever I ponder and try to make conclusions; I become clueless at all. Maybe my life has too much clarity; maybe I am in need of a bit of vagueness and ambiguity. Maybe I am destined to suffer like this and supposed to pass through. Maybe it’s inevitable in everyone’s life and I am not the only one. Maybe it’s the ultimate test of perseverance and patience in my life. Maybe something bigger is coming along the way if I am able to pass it.
When I was reflecting on the changes I am going through in my life, the changes were surprising. Back then I was very fearful of darkness. Now, darkness is the only companion. It listens to each and every story of trouble, sadness, virtually thought happiness and anything else I intend to say. The things I used to be very familiar and compatible with have already become long-lost companions.
I am more comfortable with the darkness because it has been my companion with me for long. I fear the light as it directs somewhere but I am directionless and I’ve no idea where to head.
It’s said home is where your heart is. My mind has already taken place in the darkness and since then that’s my home. And I’ve no idea where my heart is. Maybe it’s 500 miles away from home. Now tell me how to invite and retain my heart in the home of darkness. Not sure if my heart is willing to take shelter in the same place as my mind is taking.
Now I don’t feel the pain in the things that used to terribly hurt me in the past. They know me well and have become a part of my life in the present. The real pain is in realizing how beautiful the past was because I know I am not able to let go off of the past. But now I’ve already surrendered and that’s why I am not hurt anymore.
When I thought of reaching out to you; you’re already far away from me; not even bothering to ask what happened to me. Because the situation like mine is not shareable to you, to your friends and anyone in the public.
And since I have become a burden to everyone associated with me; I have no rights to seek help. You’re too busy and have no time to listen to the stories of my sadness and stagnation of mind.
I am Smiling but no one notices that I am being one of the most hypocrites ever. Even though I smile, my whole life is burning, screaming and frustrated inside out. Too much of silence has been sheltering in my life but silence abruptly roars and bursts quite often.
The irony is I thought I was lonely, alone and unloved. The recent realization has sparked within me that I am in a deep relationship, the closest friend with darkness. Emptiness is filled with emptiness. I want to cry but tears don’t roll down the eyes and so tried to laugh but then realized that faking is even worse.
It’s difficult to comprehend but I have to confess it! Neither I can live my life nor can I die. With every breath, I am inhaling the death and exhaling life. I am tired of life!
A soldier who lost the battle of his life!
A person who surrendered to life even before it challenged!
A hopeless soul trying to figure out and reach somewhere in life!
When I was depressed, I used to read a lot of quotes on depression and relate them with myself.
“You’re not a bad person for the ways you tried to kill your sadness.”
“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden. It is easier to say, “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken”.”
“A big part of depression is feeling really lonely, even if you’re in a room full of a million people.”
“It’s so difficult to describe depression to someone who’s never been there because it’s not sadness. I know sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feeling- that really hollowed-out feeling.” – J.K. Rowling
“I need one of those long hugs where you kinda forget whatever else is happening around you for a minute.”
“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”
“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.”
”Some days, 24 hours is too much to stay put in, so I take the day hour by hour, moment by moment. I break the task, the challenge, the fear into small, bite-size pieces. I can handle a piece of fear, depression, anger, pain, sadness, loneliness, illness. I actually put my hands up to my face, one next to each eye, like blinders on a horse.”
A part of me would understand what is it like to live with depression and the other half would also try to get out of the situation with these kinds of empowering quotes.
“I am bent, but not broken. I am scared, but not disfigured. I am sad, but not hopeless. I am tired, but not powerless. I am angry, but not bitter. I am depressed, but not giving up.”
“I have depression. But I prefer to say “I battle” depression instead of “I suffer” with it. Because depression hits, but I hit back. Battle on.”
“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” – Richard Bach
“Everything will be okay in the end, if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” – John Lennon
How to deal with depression: My story
There are a number of things people can do to deal with depression. Since I was in the preliminary stage of depression, I decided not to make diagnosis and treatment through physician and psychiatrist.
Self-help and coping
During that time, I was not very comfortable with my friends and decided not to share what I was going through. Maybe it was because of the feeling of insecurity or maybe trust issues. I didn’t want it to be public and I was fearful. So didn’t feel like sharing with anyone but with myself.
It was surely a challenging task but now I believe it was the best decision. I got to realize and at the same time exercise the power of self-healing and self-fulfillment.
No one can understand me any better than myself. And I kept on sharing the problems, hurdles and what was pulling me behind. I’d think of possible solutions and try to train my mind accordingly. Sometimes it’d work and most of the times it wouldn’t. But I was persistent and committed to deal with it.
Avoiding social media
Social media puts a false assumption that we are having a miserable life seeing others posts and happy pictures. This way, it instills a feeling of loneliness and worthlessness.
I was away from social media for more than a month and this helped me get back to the real- ME! The time I spent on social media would be spent on thinking about reframing life and situations.
Further reading: 30- Day No Social Media Challenge!
Enjoying personal time
Taking a walk alone, gifting myself with beautiful poetries, thinking about the good and happy days of the past and yet to come, doing exercise, writing a diary, solo travels and things as such. These things would certainly boost my confidence as well as happiness level.
Further reading: Manisha Koirala’s inspiring book HEALED!
Getting out of the comfort zone
What I realized was until and unless I get out of the comfort zone to change the existing situation, I wouldn’t be able to overcome. And so I started trying different things which were beyond my comfort zone. Some of the things included dancing alone in my room, talking to random strangers and smiling at them.
Further reading: Good habits to follow and bad habits to avoid!
Refocusing the attention
“You are what you think about all day,” Easier said than done but there’s no excuse other than changing the situation. And so I strongly thought of changing the situation I was in. Instead of focusing on loneliness and sadness, I began to be more grateful for what I had in my life. I started writing beautiful things that happened in my life in “The Happiness Jar”.
How to Help Someone with Depression
Mental health and especially depression is still stigmatized in today’s context. So people are not comfortable to share their stories openly. People are embarrassed and insecure about sharing their stories. They have the fear of being judged. And it’s understandable as well. This also means that we need to have greater trust with people.
First and foremost thing, we as friends and family members can do is listen (actively LISTEN) to their stories without any judgment. Being empathetic is key here.
If someone’s having suicidal thoughts or feelings, we can help them right away. Talk to them and listen to their feelings.
Also, we can help someone with depression maintain privacy if needed and also take them to the concerned psychiatrist or physician. It is equally important to accept the people as they are.
Slowly and gradually we can encourage people to take actions in order to help and heal themselves. For example suggesting them to take a balanced diet and physical exercise, avoid social media and simple things like these to start off and develop good habits.
Since the depressed people are vulnerable to being isolated and feeling lonely, we can be connected with them on a regular basis; maybe through phone calls, texts or even physical meetings the better.
We shouldn’t make comparisons with other people. It’s going to make their state of mind even worse.
Also, it is important to find the right people to share and pour the things out. And then one can speak to a trained mental health professional;
Transcultural Psychosocial Organization-Nepal Crisis Hotline: 1660 0102005, 01-4424082
Mental Health Helpline Nepal: 1660 0133666
The most important of all; let’s not pretend to help if the real intention is not to help. Let’s LISTEN!!!
Recently, I came up with a post that was really intriguing. So thought of sharing it 🙂
“Seeing people post about asking people to stop saying they are depressed or how they are probably faking it is one of the most ignorant things I have been seeing on the internet. My question is how do you determine if they are suffering from depression or not merely through the things they post on social media? Even if you know that person, depression is not a disorder that you can easily determine. You know, by posting about how these people are just seeking attention, you are just pushing them away further? What if a person who is in depression avoids accepting the fact that they are depressed and they end up being in that state in a worse manner? People are genuinely scared to diagnose as depressed because of people’s disapproval and this is due to how people have themselves created a diagnosis that people need to fit in to be depressed. These people need professional help and you constantly reminding them that they probably aren’t depressed and they are just over thinking stuff is the last thing that will help them. We are not professionals, we don’t know the diagnosis, we need to keep our unhelpful opinions to ourselves. Let’s be a little compassionate towards people in their rough phases. You wouldn’t go to a person with a broken leg saying that it is probably not broken because they look happy right now and they are just overdoing it with the crutches, will you?
The thing is, even if it seems like they are doing for attention, maybe it is because they need attention. Maybe no one has given enough attention to their sickness and they are reaching out for help. Your ignorant posts and comments in social media might be pushing them a step further from reaching out for help. Just be kind and spread love, you don’t have to be a judge of everything. If anyone is saying that they are depressed, believe them, help them out, ask them what you can do for them. If they don’t want the help, that’s fine too, just don’t judge. Even if the people are not chronically or clinically depressed, being there for people without any judgments is the least that we can do as humans. Do not assume you are enlightened with the knowledge of everything in the world.
If you are reading this and feel like you are depressed and are struggling to reach out for help. Try to reach out, there are people who might judge but there are lots who don’t as well. Just stay strong.
Also, posting this picture just to give a hint of how unpredictable this disease is.”
Here’s the link to the original post: https://www.facebook.com/nishmatuag/posts/2105940619468598