I want to start by saying, by no means am I an expert on the subject of depression or a medical professional of any kind. The experience is different for everyone and I don’t pretend to understand everyone’s perspective, only my own. I however am an expert on my own major depressive disorder and am basing this post on how I experience it, understand it and deal with it.
For a little back story I’ll also add that I was first diagnosed with seasonal depression (now called seasonal affective disorder) when I was 12. This was the winter after I first started having panic attacks the previous spring and my doctors at the time thought that both conditions were due to season changes effecting my mental state. Later in my teen years I was diagnosed with clinical depression when my depressive episodes also showed up during the lighter/warmer months (even if not as severely). I have been dealing with this ‘mood disorder’ for over half of my life. I would say I have been able to better manage it the last few years, though to say I have control over it would be a complete overstep. You can sandbag to protect from a flood, but you can’t prevent the storm that causes it. I don’t think I’ll ever be rid of depression completely, unlike my physical conditions now, I have come to grips with that, it’s not ok, it just is.
The thing about depression in general is it’s vastly misunderstood by people who don’t or haven’t experienced it. Even the most empathetic person on the planet can only partially sympathize, they can’t truly understand. I have found that this can leave ‘normal’ people to draw some unfair conclusions.
The first being that depression isn’t really…. real. Everyone get’s sad sometimes, everyone gets stressed, everyone grieves at some point and everyone feels like giving up at one point or another. There are many people who think ‘depression’ is just an excuse sensitive people use to avoid handling normal emotions or people who don’t want to face the world and MAN UP, grow up or grow a thicker skin.
But that’s a rant for another time (probably for after a run in with my brother)….
The second being that sure depression is real, but if it is then all the NORMAL feelings, emotions and moods just disappear. Everything is blamed on depression. Other than joy…. because of course if you are able to experience a moment of happiness amidst the numb/darkness that means either you weren’t depressed in the first place, or you’re obviously coming out of an episode.
While the assumption that my depression is just made up erks me sure, the assumption that because I’m depressed I’m incapable of having any valid (especially negative) feelings on top of it makes me FEEL…. even more FRUSTRATED!
Yes it is true that depression is coined as being sad, empty, numb and/or hopeless most of the time, for a long period of time. Yes it’s true that sometimes something horrible can happen in my life and I will give absolutely no emotion response because the depression is all encompassing. Then six hours later in the middle of dinner I’ll be wailing like an injured child because whatever it is finally hit me. That’s NOT the depression anymore, that is me processing the REAL EMOTIONS that went along with losing a relative, missing out on an opportunity, or having a rough conversation with my mother.
It’s not always delayed either. I still get immediately worried if I hear Little Dude cry in pain across the house, I still get annoyed the second I see the kitchen in shambles after Mr. Mango decided to make himself a three course breakfast and not clean up after himself, I still feel sadness after a phone call with my Omi after she tells me my Opa’s Parkinson’s is becoming more severe.
Being in the middle of a depressive episode does not mean I cannot feel anything, ever (see above the spiel on everyone blah blah blah). Sometimes I react and feel the exact same way I would normally, sometimes I’m completely numb to it at all and sometimes my reaction is way overboard (like bursting into tears because I burnt a sheet of potato wedges, yea that happened last week). I still feel emotions and my feelings still are valid.
Right now I’m realizing that it’s difficult expressing my actual emotions to some of the people around me. Namely my father and Mr. Mango. Both of whom completely understand my depression and how it effects my life, which I appreciate, but they also both have a habit of ignoring my opinions and feelings towards completely unrelated things.
I may feel depressed and numb, but I can still be upset that Mr. Mango refuses to talk about the hard stuff. It actually makes me angry! It’s not a symptom of depression that can be dismissed until I ‘feel better’. It won’t magically disappear when the depression lifts. Not to mention all the small stuff, like taking out the garbage, putting dirty clothes in the laundry and just general other tidy your own shit up stuff that usually he has no problem with. Somehow whenever depression hits me, our house turns into a pig sty, like my standards of cleanliness somehow go out the window for a while (FYI they don’t, if anything living in a mess makes me feel worse).
My feelings towards needing a little help with housework or not wanting to be treated like a maid don’t automatically go away when I’m dealing with depression. Any time I bring anything up, I get met with a half response, get told to go rest or relax or asked if I’m really feeling alright. The subject is completely changed and diverted to my brain being ‘wrong’ and we’ll handle these other issues once the depression has lifted.
Before Mr. Mango was part of my life I experience this sort of ‘brush off’ from my dad, my brother, a few close friends and one or two previous love interests that knew about my mental status. Somehow it’s always seemed misunderstood how a depressed person could ALSO be sad, mad, grouchy or even happy at times.
Like I said, I won’t pretend to understand or explain how other people who suffer from depression experience it, but I do often wonder if I’m alone in feeling this sort of emotion isolation from the people around me. I feel alone because of my isolation, it’s like the start of a conundrum! But really, anyone out there with similar experience? I would love to hear someone else’s take on it.