What People with Depression Really Want You to Know


I’m not going to sit here and pull out a Merriam Webster’s definition of what clinical depression is. Why?
Because the experience is not the same for everyone. What I will tell you about depression is that it hampers daily life, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly or ignored. Mental health is probably one of the most important areas in life we need to focus on (within ourselves and toward others and society), and there’s SO many dimensions into how we can eliminate the stigma and myths so we can move forward.

I have experience with situational depression through intense grieving, but I cannot speak for people who have to deal with depression every day. It’s not the same. And, admittingly, I will tell you I know nothing about having clinical depression, and I am not going to pretend to know – therefore, this article is for people who do not have it (or think they know) and what people with depression really want you to know. 

I’m letting my beautiful and talented friends tell their stories through a medley of quotes that will take you on a journey. And, what you may find are common threads that pull the strings together toward mental health – and overall health for that matter.

Photography by Amy Kobos


THIS IS WHAT IT’S LIKE: 

“First of all, don’t assume that I’m fucking lazy. Living with depression is such a struggle that just getting out of bed and going to work is enough. Sometimes anything beyond that is completely unattainable…”

“If you don’t have depression, don’t tell me how to fix mine. Don’t tell me that your friend’s sister’s daughter has depression and now that she eats 15 ounces of turmeric a day and jogs six miles and does yoga that she feels so much better. That doesn’t help us. That only makes people with depression feel worse.”

“The last thing I have energy for in my brain and also my literal physical body is getting up any earlier than I absolutely have to in order to attend a gym. And also, looking at mountains and trees is not an antidepressant. I’ve been in the presence of some of the most beautiful things in the world and have still been depressed. In fact, in those moments, I often feel worse because I feel like I shouldn’t be sad. I feel like I should be exhilarated and rejuvenated but I’m usually struck with a profound sense of numbness.”

“The depressed person has a real illness – it is not a character flaw. You can’t ‘just get over it.’”

“In a depressed person, those negative thoughts dominate his or her thinking and you can’t focus on anything else other than how you feel. It’s like having the worst cold where you feel detached from the world.”

“Depression affects me in various ways. Sometimes as an incessant voice telling me to give up on everything and other times as a vast expanse of numbness. For example, not a day goes by that I don’t at least think about suicide. Not necessarily always planning it but more just thinking about it as an option – like there’s always a way out.”

“Honestly, the ways in which it affects me are so numerous that I could write a veritable masters thesis about it.”

“It feels like what we all thought quicksand was when we were kids. You try crawling out but lose your footing and start sliding back down. The only difference is that you’re always stuck in that moment right before your face sinks beneath the surface. You’re never really winning or losing – just constantly panicking.”

“Depression for me started when I was 20. I didn’t know what it was because back in the 70’s no one talked about depression. I know back then I felt like I was the worst person ever and felt like I was going to die.”

 

What has helped us from a non-medicine standpoint…


“As a musician, I go to music and play – even if it’s someone else’s music. I take some of my favorite songs and take it to level 11 and do my own interpretation of it – from the heart. Music is a natural drug for me.”

“I did meet with a wonderful counselor who focused on “now” rather than delving into my early life. I learned Cognitive Therapy which was a huge help to me while I was trying new medication. I found out that I was not responsible for my random thoughts (as your brain generates multiple thoughts at a one time).”

“The most effective non-medicinal thing (i’m not sure if I can call it a treatment) is the idea of positive self talk. That doesn’t mean incessantly telling myself that i’m pretty or talented or worthy of affection. It simple means acknowledging my illness for what it is. An illness. And, when those thoughts of suicide and self deprecation come up, I remind myself that it’s a broken feedback loop in my brain and that at the end of the day, it’s my choice to continue on.”

“Journaling helped me with this by listing my negative thoughts and then disputing them.”

“Outside of pharmaceuticals, talk therapy has always been an excellent resource when it’s financially available. However I haven’t been able to try many non-medicinal treatments.”

“I learned that you are responsible for how you react to those thoughts. You take a negative thought and spin it back in a positive way like ‘I’m the worst person’ to ‘I am a good worthwhile person.’ After a while of doing this, it becomes automatic.”

“I’m sure non-medicinal treatments are very effective, but how am I supposed to engage in them when I have to fight tooth and nail with myself to do something as basic as brush my teeth, take a shower, or clip my nails? On the other hand, CBD oil was actually very helpful for me. I’m not saying it will work for everyone, but I’ve had a degree of success with it.”

“I had been stabilized on two medications, but it wasn’t improving…The biggest change [with transmagnetic brain stimulation] is that I’m much more alert, and I’m much more aware of what’s going on in the world around me, whereas before… I think I was just trying to hide from it.”


Photography by Amy Kobos


HOW YOU CAN HELP:

“There are two appropriate courses of action when dealing with people who have depression. Offer support or don’t. Both are equally valid. The best kind of support is asking someone what you can do for them not deciding what is best for them…

…(sure… if they’re pointing a shotgun at their face… maybe grab it.) Support doesn’t have to be this huge gesture…Buy them a sandwich or something! Often, that little stuff means a whole lot because most of us with depression are fighting for such small victories throughout our day and that compliment on our outfit could help us win one.”

“If you tell me that I can call you anytime that I feel like hurting myself or doing something irrational and then you consistently don’t pick up the phone then you’ve done more harm than good.”

“People shouldn’t assume it’s a bad habit.”

“It would be great if people would stop for a few minutes and be fully present with you. Being fully present is being supportive.”

“It’s important for a support group to view depression as an illness just like diabetes.”

“We don’t want to feel ‘special’ or ‘less important.’ Don’t show pity. If you want to help someone, hear what people have to say without judgment. Just listen.”

“It’s just important to remember that every word has weight and that sometimes those words can be a lifeline to someone.”

 


In loving memory of Chris Cornell
July 20, 1964 to May 18, 2017

 

“My mirror shows another face

Another place to hide it all…

And I’m lost, behind

The words I’ll never find…

…Now I want to fly above the storm

But you can’t grow feathers in the rain…

Could you crawl into my world

And take me worlds away

Should I be beside myself

And not even stay”

 

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