A mental health struggle that impacts approximately 16.1 million American adults, depression is currently recognized as the leading cause of disability in the United States among those aged 15 to 44. Despite this high prevalence, many of those Americans will suffer in silence either fearing the negative stigma in our society or because they struggle to express their thoughts and feelings to those that they love.
It may sound like the easiest part of the journey – after all friends and family are there by your side encouraging your recovery, but for many Americans sharing their struggles with their loved ones is the hardest step in the recovery process. Why is this? Many who suffer from depression have worked hard to build up a strong persona, capable of keeping up with the world rather than dropping their barriers and revealing their vulnerability. However, this break down of communication can make it increasingly difficult for those that are genuinely trying to help.
Here are 10 secrets that people who suffer from depression wish that they could share with those that they love:
#1 – Sometimes isolation really is the best feeling.
You are aware of the fact that you have a kickass support system, and you are incredibly grateful for all that they do. At the end of the day, however, there will be times that all you want is to cut yourself off from the world, giving you the time and space to recoup and recharge. It’s not that you don’t want them around per say, its nothing that they did, you just need a little space. This includes all forms of contact – in person, text messaging, and even social media.
#2 – You struggle to concentrate on anything.
This is one of the points that significantly impacts your career. You may have once been the most dedicated, motivated and driven employee but thanks to your depression you struggle to focus even for a few short moments. You live in a world where your mind is always on the go, flooding you with negative self-talk. Try as you might to bury this away, it dominates your thoughts leaving little room to actually focus on anything that matters. Your friends believe you’ve become a scatterbrain, but you know it’s simply that your mind is somewhere else.
#3 – Just keeping up with my daily routine is exhausting.
To most people, sticking to your daily schedule is comforting. However, when you are battling depression the idea of a comfort zone feels foreign and distant. Even the schedule that you once maintained with easy can leave you feeling drained and exhausted, leading you to cancel plans and withdraw to the safety of your own home, behind closed doors. You don’t need to do something crazy or over the top to push you over the line, just surviving with depression is enough for that.
#4 – There isn’t always a reason for the way that we’re feeling.
When someone feels ‘sad’ there is some sort of mitigating factor, a situation that leads them to feel this way. This is genuinely the way emotions work and is the ‘norm’ that society has come to expect. Depression, however, is a different monster. There may be an identifiable trigger or event that you can point to, or it may come completely out of the blue. This is more than just responding to a difficult situation in your life, it runs far deeper.
#5 – The idea of a regular sleep pattern is a joke.
There may have been a time in your life that you maintained a regular sleep schedule, but that’s a thing of the past. While battling depression your sleeping patterns are suddenly all over the place. You may find yourself staying up all hours of the night, unable to even entertain the idea of sleep, or you may sleep for hours on end, failing to drag yourself out of bed. Either way, you can try all you want to regulate your sleep, but your body isn’t having it, and regardless of how many hours you may sleep, it’s never enough.
#6 – You have lost interest in everything that once mattered.
If you have battled depression, then you have likely had someone suggest that you throw yourself into something you’re passionate about to make you feel better. However, the last thing you want to do is to do anything. Even the activities that once filled you with joy are no longer exciting, as you feel numb towards all aspects of your life. Without that joy and enjoyment, you no longer care to take part.
#7 – Being depressed can leave you feeling irritated and standoffish.
While most people picture depression as extreme sadness, curled up in your bed and unable to get up and moving, this isn’t the only response. Sure, for some people that is exactly how it will manifest, but others will notice that they suddenly become incredibly irritable. Even the littlest of annoyances that you used to shrug off are suddenly more than you can bear, leading you to lash out at those around you. It’s not that you’re cold-hearted or trying to offend them, you can’t help yourself.
#8 – Telling me to just ‘get over it’ or ‘think happy thoughts’ isn’t going to solve anything.
Don’t you think I would have put this into practice a LONG time ago if the secret to overcoming my mental health struggles was simply to tell myself to be happy? These phrases are frustrating to those who are suffering, many of which who have gone to great lengths to try to be ‘happy’ only to find themselves disappointed. Take a step back and try walking in our shoes – this certainly isn’t something you choose!
#9 – Self-care often goes right out the window.
Some people will hear the phrase self-care, and their mind goes to relaxing bubble baths or splurging on retail therapy. When you are struggling with depression, however, even the most basic of self-care can fall by the wayside. You may go days without showering, living in the same pajamas day in and day out, your house may fall into complete disarray or you may find that you are completely skipping meals simply because you can’t be bothered to prepare them. Despite the situation, you can’t ask for help, as the current situation leaves you feeling embarrassed.
#10 – You spend your life waiting for the other shoe to drop.
It’s not that you want things to go badly, but even when you push yourself and try to make a change in your life you feel as though your depression catches up with you, tearing you down. You have been feeling low for so long that you no longer believe that anything is going to work out. When something appears to be going in your favor your refuse to celebrate, as you genuinely believe that the other shoe is going to drop any minute. It’s not that you’re pessimistic, you’ll argue, you’re just being realistic.