The word, of course, is depression; it comes in many different versions and flavors and also means something different to anyone who suffers from it. I have suffered from depression since my early teens, and I remember the exact moment it was given a name. It was a weekend, and my Mother asked me how I was feeling, and I had to stop and pause…because I didn’t know. Finally, the only response I could find that encompassed how I was feeling was….blah. Just…blah. Later that evening my Mother was on the phone, one of those awesome cordless phones with a huge metal antenna, and I heard her tell whomever she was talking to that I was depressed. Apparently there was a label for feeling blah and that label was depression.
The odd thing about depression is how misunderstood it is by most people, especially by those who have never truly experienced it for an extended length of time. Most people just think you’re sad; but while sadness is obviously a part of it, it has never been the major portion of my depression. The pie chart (full credit to Mr. Macintosh) gives a better understanding of how depression can affect a person. My portion of the pie has mainly been hopelessness and self-loathing. These have been major struggles most of my life. Thankfully, there are a plethora of medications today that can help with that struggle. If you begin a med, one thing you need to know is this, it doesn’t make you weak; it means you are taking the necessary steps to try and feel better, to end all of those feelings in the chart.
I have often looked at other people and recognized that they were happy. For a lot of people with depression, this word is foreign; it’s like this mythical creature.
I have spent most of my life not striving to be happy, but to do my best to make sure I wasn’t unhappy. When I was unhappy, this was when I was at my most depressed, and if the unhappiness continued for an extended period of time, it could lead to the dreaded downward spiral. I can’t accurately describe what a downward spiral is – all I can say, it’s like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. You have no idea how deep the hole is, but you know the further you fall, the more difficult it’s going to be to climb out. All the while, you’re petrified, terrified that you’ve already fallen too far, and maybe this is the time you won’t have the strength to climb back out.
If you recognize that you are falling into a spiral, hold dearly to whatever your healthy escape is. I rely on friends and music during these times – and yes, I have a depression spiral playlist and maybe soon I will include it in a blog post. My first song in the playlist is Matchbox 20’s Unwell. The one line that helps keep me grounded: “I’m not crazy…I’m just a little unwell.” I also find that when I am in a spiral, I really need to just cry. Crying helps get it all out. And yes, I know there is this stigma in our society that says that men aren’t supposed to cry, and to that I say … well, I can’t say, this is a family friendly blog. I have my list of songs in my playlist that I know will make the water flow. Once it starts, my advice is to just let it all out – let every single one of those detrimental feelings flow out of you with each tear. I promise you will feel at least a little better afterwards.
I do believe that is enough for this session, if you ever want to send an e-mail, share your stories, make a comment, or ask a question, you can email me at [email protected]. Remember, no matter how you’re feeling with your depression, someone understands, sympathizes, and sends their love.