We all know Depression is a horrible, stinking liar. I envision Depression as the mean girl who wouldn’t let anyone with the “wrong” shoes sit at her cafeteria table. She spreads rumors about you that are mean, but somehow just believable enough that people don’t dare question her. She’s so good at deflecting attention and building herself up by disparaging others that no one realizes what she’s doing, and slowly, everyone believes her that you’re not good enough, nice enough, cool enough, smart enough, pretty enough, or simply… enough… even you. Just like that girl we all (maybe not so secretly) disliked in high school, Depression is a mean, despicable liar. The trick is knowing how to spot “her.”
1. Depression hides: Depression is sneaky. It hides, and when you’re depressed, you might hide too. Often, this means you hide your depression from others, putting on a brave or happy face when you’re out and about, at work or school, or engaging with family. But when you allow depression to hide by giving her a secret place — those alone moments, the quiet times — she gains a foothold and starts to take over in other areas. So ask yourself: Am I depressed when I’m alone? If you are, consider talking to someone you love and trust about your feelings before they worsen. Sometimes, just knowing that someone else is aware of your feelings and is keeping an eye out for you, and is there to support you, is enough to help you feel a bit better. This won’t alleviate serious depression, of course, but it helps not being alone, and it’s a good first step.
2. Depression lies: Depression has a way of sneaking up on us in our quiet moments and telling us that our fears and anxieties are not only real, but that they’re worse than they could ever be in reality. For example, Depression tells us that going to work is going to be exhausting and stressful and miserable and that absolutely nowhere is as safe and good as our own beds. If you’re prone to depression, here’s a little something you can put in your toolbox. Next time you’re at work or school or wherever you spend the most time, stop outside and look around. Smell the air and feel the sun on your face. Listen to the outdoor sounds and look up at the sky. Try to take a mental picture of that moment, and file it away for the next time you simply do not want to get out of bed. When you find yourself listening to Depression, conjure up that image and try to remind yourself that Depression is nothing but a liar.
3. Depression stinks: Depression really is debilitating and exhausting and painful. It is a very real problem that, frankly, stinks. No one wants to deal with Depression any more than we want to live with the mean girl. But in this case, the mean girl lives within us, and it’s really very hard to be happy when someone is being mean to you all the time. And this is the big difference between being kind of bummed out and true Depression. If you can simply change your perspective and brush it off, you may feel depressed, but that’s not Depression. Depression comes along and tells you all the things you fear hearing, makes you feel all the things you don’t want to feel, and somehow makes even your favorite things seem not worthwhile.
So how do we spot this mean girl named Depression? First, we have to know that she doesn’t just hide from others, Depression hides from you. Depression isn’t usually a sudden drop in mood. It’s most often a slow progression of worsening symptoms that creep up so slowly that you may not even realize you’ve become depressed until someone else points it out to you. It’s like being at a park on a sunny day and realizing that slowly, ever so slowly, a thick cloud has covered the sun, and you didn’t even notice until the wind picked up and made it truly cold.
Because Depression is such a good hider and so good at creeping up, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to tell the closest people in your life about your Depression. Let them know what it looks like and how you behave when you’re getting depressed, and ask them to help you spot it before it spirals out of control. This is just like a person with Epilepsy letting people know how to spot an oncoming seizure. When Depression shows up, we need help and support, and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong with asking for it.
And when you ask for that help, consider going beyond your innermost circle and reaching out for professional support. If you find that you are so depressed that any of these apply, you may need counseling and a medical assessment:
1. There are days when I do not want to get out of bed.
2. I sometimes find I take no pleasure in things I usually enjoy.
3. I feel sad for no reason.
4. I am having trouble sleeping or am sleeping too much.
5. I am gaining or losing weight unintentionally.
6. I feel tired even when rested.
7. I am irritable and less patient than usual.
8. I find myself crying at inappropriate times.
9. I feel worthless, hopeless, or helpless.
10. I have thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
At Sanctuary, we know that Depression isn’t just a bad mood or a fleeting issue. It’s a serious condition that requires intervention, and we can help. For more information, a free mental health screening, and a free phone consultation, please contact us any time.
Sanctuary Counseling. You are welcome here.