Depression - It's Not a Choice
Depression is not a choice. Nobody would ever choose to feel the way you do when you have entered depression. When you feel like nothing matters, when you can't move, get out of bed, interact, feel anything at all. Keeping up your daily rituals to take care of the ones around you, but not yourself.
Depression can be the feeling of going crazy and being fully aware of it. And then you punish yourself, you are hard on yourself for feeling this way, for not having an explanation, because in theory your life looks “normal”. You don’t choose depression, you would not choose to feel that way – being stuck in that dark hole, where nothing matters – where days blend into one another and you are just waiting for them to be over, one and then another and another. Waiting for it to get better, but it never does. Depression doesn't always mean you sit in a dark room by yourself, for some a lot of anger is involved.
It also doesn’t mean you can’t get out of bed because sometimes that is not a choice when you still have a care-giving role to children. One day you realize, this is not me: “I am not ‘that’ person,” and in that moment you get help because you are lucid enough to know you need help. Depression is not a choice, it is an illness like the flu. Be compassionate with yourself, none of this is your fault. This is what depression can feel like: ● A massive dark hole that you can't seem to climb out of ● Fuzzy brain ● Disconnect from friends and family ● Withdrawal from activities requiring brain power or physical energy ● Lack of joy even in previously enjoyed activities ● Numbness ● Sadness - wanting to cry, but nothing is left inside or, crying seemingly out of nowhere ● Hopelessness, Helplessness and/or Victim oriented thinking ● Mood swings - Quick to anger and aggression ● Weight changes ● Sleep changes ● Reckless behaviour and choices ● Shame or Guilt You think your thoughts are logical but only when you are healthy again do you understand they weren't. Often there is a feeling of pervasive sadness and apathy to change. It takes enormous courage just to get through a day or make a meal or simply eat - food is tasteless! You really feel you're only living for the sake of your children or parents...or a loved one. But you don't feel love. To give or receive it, feels empty and this causes even more guilt. Shame can often stop you from getting help.
Somehow it is still shameful to talk about depression or mental illness in our society. It happens to someone else right? Never yourself. That's not true. It can happen to anyone. There are many reasons why it can happen. Please do not wait until you think it's going to get better. You can't "snap" out of it. You can't "focus on good thoughts" or the "positive in your life"... And the reason is because your judgement is clouded. You need help.
Some days will feel pretty good and you think you’ve turned the corner and then, it all comes crashing down. That’s often the bargaining tool we play with ourselves. Deny, deny. It will get better. You don’t need to manage this by yourself, depression is not a weakness. People who have depression in fact usually get upset if someone suggests they may be depressed. Could you receive this feedback? That is why you need a mirror. Outside validation is necessary to recognize symptoms. Please contact a health professional even if you think you're not "really needing help" and "can do this on your own..." it's imperative to talk about it. And so, if you think you might be suffering from depressive symptoms and you bring it up with your doctor, don’t diminish the problem, you are so smart, you can fool even the doctors that you are just going through a blip. Please address that "this can happen to you." Let's stop pretending and help each other. The elephant is IN the room. Here’ a link if you want more information.
Note: This blog is based on the personal experience of several depression sufferers and in no way substitute for medical advice.
West Vancouver, BC, Canada