Depression is a real illness that can affect anybody no matter who they are or how successful they are in life. Unlike a physical injury that shows those around you that you are in pain and need help, it is a silent, hidden illness that is rarely understood by those that have not experienced it or do not work with it directly.
One of the worst parts of depression can be the attitude of those around you. The family and friends that provide support and help in most situations do not understand what is happening to you and while they may mean well, can often make the sufferer feel worse by offering platitudes or telling you that you are fine and will get over it.
Depression varies in the intensity and severity and can be a mild depressive mood that passes fairly quickly on it’s own through to a severe state where the person is almost completely incapable of functioning normally and may have suicidal thoughts. Sometimes mild depression if left untreated can get worse.
With help it is an illness that can be cured but often sufferers do not know how to ask for help, feel they can’t ask for help or just accept that their life is like that. In fact it is believed that most people do not seek help for depression and may live with it for years. Acknowledging that you need help and asking for it can be the hardest step to take but incredibly worthwhile.
Depression can be treated through counselling or a combination of counselling and medication depending on the severity and causes. Most people find that with intervention and help they make a full recovery.
Recognising Depression in yourself
It can be really hard to recognise or accept that you may have depression. Living with depression can seem like a normal way of living to some people especially when you have been living with it for a long time and no longer know what it is to be happy. It is normal to feel down sometimes but if the feelings persist for a few weeks it may be indicative of a more serious problem. If you are feeling some of the following then it may be worth talking to someone about it to see if you are suffering from depression.
- Feel miserable or hopeless
- Poor memory
- Loss of interest in activities
- Persistant crying
- Low self-esteem
- Disturbed sleep
- Change in appetite
- Loss of libido
- Withdrawal socially
- Inability to concentrate
- Thoughts of suicide
- Low energy
- Feel helpless
- Dread the coming day
Recognising Depression in others
When people are suffering from severe depression it usually becomes obvious to those close to them. However, for mild to moderate levels of depression it can be hard to detect especially if the person is trying to cover it up. Some signs to pay attention to in family and friends are:
- Cry easily
- Talk with little emotion
- Seem to find no joy in activities
- Have low self-esteem
- Suffer from anxiety
If you would like some help please give me a call on 0468 950 420 or email me and I will call you to discuss your needs. Don’t live with depression – life can be good again.
A True Account
Following is a true account of one woman’s experience with depression. It is a confronting account but I have included it in the hope that some people experiencing depression may relate to some parts of this story and take steps to get help.
“I am existing each day. Yet another day begins with me waking of a morning from a few hours of disturbed sleep to the knowledge that here begins another day to try and exist through. The night did not end my problems, they are still in my head and the cycle of endless painful thoughts begins again.
I have no choice but to drag myself out of bed and attempt to act like a normal person for my children as I prepare them for school. Every moment is an effort and a blur as I make school lunches and prepare breakfast. I think I am doing an adequate job of keeping on top of things but the reality is they are often given the wrong lunches or uniform and it is only through their intervention that I manage, most of the time, to get them to school in some semblance of order. At school I paste the mum smile on my face and try and look as though I care as I don’t listen to the meaningless chatter and complaints from the other school mums. I’m fine.
When I can escape I flee back home and hide away doing I’m not sure what. Somehow I get through the day and do some meaningless tasks that apparently still need to be done. There doesn’t seem much point to any of this but it is expected of me and I have to keep up appearances. Sometimes I sleep. I cry a lot. Those endless tears that seem to spill over my eyelids for no apparent reason. I’m really not sure how I fill those hours. Through my head over and over run the thoughts that there is no way out. I cannot escape my head. I cannot find the solution. I cannot find any way to change my life. Surely an intelligent person like me can find an answer. I can’t. This must mean that I am not intelligent. I hate myself. That’s nothing new, I’ve hated myself for a while I’m just gathering more evidence to support this view. There are people around but I am so lonely. My head is not a nice place to be. But I’m fine.
The day is gone and it is time to collect the kids from school. My reprieve from having that smile pasted on my face is over. It’s showtime again. Back at school I try and tell my group of ‘friends’ that things aren’t great when they force themselves to be polite and ask how things are going. What I want to say is ‘Please make this go away, make my head be silent, hear that I am not fine and show me the way out, tell me what to do’. I don’t. They don’t want to hear that. Everything is fine. Fine – how I hate that word. My friends can see that I am not happy. I am almost silent in my own world. They respond with the usual ‘you will be stronger for this experience’ and then run away from my misery. It might be catching.
Back home there is homework to be done and dinner to cook. Home work is sometimes done. Dinner is sometimes made. The kids have become adept and snacking and television is both their parent and my best friend. I can now escape to the shower and cry the endless tears in peace. I don’t have to pretend that I have dust in my eyes. Mum is fine.
It’s bed time for the kids. I’m almost through another day of hell. I put them to bed and finally I can escape to the bottle of wine that is waiting to help me sleep. I sit in the dark outside and watch the moon travel across the night sky and return to the one subject that brings me relief. I plan how I will kill myself.
With this at least there is an answer. I know exactly how I will do it. How to make sure it is done properly. I know that people will be a little sad. That is normal when something dies. I also know they will get on with their lives. I’m so ugly, so stupid, so pathetic, so useless that for some people it will probably be a relief. For me too it will be a huge relief. To never wake again seems the most peaceful answer I can find. The end of my life will not be a peaceful one and yet even the violence I have planned on myself is welcome..
There is just one point I have not yet worked out in this plan. Who will raise my children? Will they be ok? I don’t yet have an answer to that and I care just enough somewhere deep within that I don’t act tonight. It’s 4am, I should be able to sleep now. I will tackle that question again tomorrow night when I pretend to live a life again. I stumble to bed and wait for sleep to provide the only escape I can have. I’m fine.
Over a year later and I am still here. I did not kill myself. I finally asked for help and someone listened. It was a long road. It was worth it.
I am not fine. I am happy.
If you know someone who seems down often – ask them if they are alright and if they answer “fine”, ask again. Listen to the answer. You may just help save someone’s life.
If you need help with the treatment of depression, call me on 0468 950 420 or email me.