Depression is often a confusing and debilitating disease – for sufferers and the people around them. For those who are unfamiliar with it, it can be a tricky thing to approach and talk about. However, depression should never be ignored or avoided. As someone with a long and complicated history with the disease, I’ve compiled the below list to increase understanding. It will also provide insight into how to handle fellow sufferers.
We are not always sad
Just because we are suffering from depression, it doesn’t mean we are sad all of the time. One of the worst things you can say when someone tells you that they’re suffering is: “But you’re always so happy…?” Trust me when I say that you can have depression and still have happy moments. Just like everyone else, we have good days and bad days – our bad days are just that much worse. We have fun, we smile, we socialise and we enjoy. We have flair ups and calm periods and that’s okay.
Exercise isn’t a cure
Exercise, following a better diet and ‘getting out more’ aren’t a cure. They all help you break out of a depressive ‘bubble’, but they DO NOT make depression disappear. Instead, try to gently coax them to do something that might make them feel better. For instance, suggest going to the movies or grabbing a coffee.
A simple task can require a lot of energy
Doing even the most simple of tasks can take up a day’s worth of energy. Something that makes depression so debilitating is the amount of energy it drains from you. There are days when it’s hard to even get out of bed, never mind even tackling the day. I’ve gone for over a week without physically being able to shower – it really can be that exhausting. It’s difficult to explain to those who haven’t experienced it, but the best explanation I’ve come across is the ‘Spoon theory’ . On days when depression hits, I have far fewer ‘spoons’ available to me. In fact, getting dressed can sometimes be a challenge.
A text = the world
Even if we are unable to reply at the time, a quick text here or there can mean everything. When I’m in deep I can’t really function socially and will go days without even unlocking my phone. During this time, you’re unlikely to get a response out of me but sending a quick ‘I hope you’re okay’ can be really reassuring. By sending a kind message and putting it in such a way that doesn’t require a response, you’re showing that you care without adding any pressure. A message has been known to have me in tears. Happy, grateful tears, that is.
Depression is an illness
Because of the stigma, depression is still not taken as seriously as say, pneumonia or diabetes. However, left untreated it is just as deadly. Many of us are reluctant to bring it up for the risk of being dismissed. Mental illnesses are just as harmful and dangerous as any other disease. Don’t be that person.
Depression can even scare sufferers
Depression can twist a brain in such a way that it even scares us sometimes.
On TV there is sometimes a character with a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. Having depression is similar. As in we only have the devil – whispering harmful, upsetting and downright dangerous ideas into your ear. Even though it’s our own brain, it often feels like it has a mind of its own. My brain has been so troubling in the past that it has scared me beyond belief and I’ve had to watch a movie or listen to some music in an attempt to drain it out.
It really is one day at a time
Living with depression is a challenge, there’s no doubt about that. Sometimes I can honestly only concentrate on getting through the day and therefore incapable of planning in advance. Please be patient if this happens – we’re doing the best we can to survive and if that means taking each day as it comes, then that’s what we need to do.
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression then please call the UK’s leading mental illness charity Mind: 0300 123 3393.