The thing a lot of people seem to forget about depression is that it is not a feeling. It is a mood. It is not temporary, like sadness or anger. It is a long term, persistent entity within a person’s life. And this can sometimes be the hardest thing to deal with.
When things go wrong, a person with depression will likely feel it comes on stronger. It will feel like a constant strain. A daily struggle. An hourly struggle even, on the bad days. When things don’t seem to be working in your favour, it can feel like the end of the world, every day. You are exhausted, tired all the time no matter how much you sleep, your limbs always heavy with that dull emptiness that comes with the gig. And while, true, you probably do have several good things in your life, it can be hard to see it.
As a sufferer, I can tell you how hard that daily struggle can be. The battle with yourself, your family, your peers, the outside world in general. That internal fight with your demons, past and present. That fight never ends, not really. It subsides, battles are won, but the war remains. I don’t say this to make it seem all doom and gloom, it is just the truth. And the truth should be known, no?
If a person with depression says they are okay, this can mean they are not. But don’t assume all people with depression lie when they say this. Some really are okay, on that day, compared to their ‘everyday’ inside their head. The day before they may have been curled on their bedroom floor, knees to their chest, salt-streams on their cheeks and feeling the world was cruel and unforgiving. The day they say “I’m okay”, maybe they really are.
And it’s hard for a sufferer of depression whose life has improved too. Take mine for example. I have good housemates, a good house, a wonderful boyfriend, this position as a writer for this great online magazine, and if I put my mind to it I could do well at university. I have all the blocks I need to build a perfectly happy life for myself, but it is hard. Past failures plague the minds of people in this position. Knowing what could go wrong, worrying if it will. Insecurities, anxieties, apprehension. No matter how good the quality of the blocks, sometimes building it can be complicated. Just because we have the blocks, doesn’t mean we know how to build something stable with it. Even when things are looking up, that niggling at the back of the mind reminds us it is not over. Bad days will come, and we need to be prepared to deal with that.
Depression is different for every individual, but a lot of things are the same: lethargy; insecurity; social anxiety; self-loathing and doubt; fear. We all fear the darkness, but it can be overcome. And that is the point of this whole thing: things may be bad, things may get bad again, but they can look up.
I always say the pendulum must swing the other way, and that stands with my view on depression. Things will always get worse, but they also will get better. It’s all in how you deal with it that makes the difference.
I’m going to try and do this without the stereotypical preaching, but if you, or someone you know, has been feeling significantly down – and by this I mean more than a single bad day here and there – do go and talk to someone. Don’t let things fester. Talk to a friend, a family member, a doctor, a counsellor. Just talk. Talking about it is what teaches us about it and helps us to move forward. Don’t suffer if the help is there. I have made that mistake too often. Don’t follow my example. If you don’t tell someone what’s wrong, how can they help?
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