Many people don’t understand what it means to be depressed. At times they may feel frustrated with those that are. Not understanding they aren’t getting daily tasks done. Feeling frustrated because they think people are ‘not helping themselves’ or ‘trying to get better’. At times those that don’t understand depression can be dismissive and take a ‘pull yourself together’ approach.
Can you imagine how painful that is if you are literally drowning????
Depression is real. It is all consuming. It is powerful and it is lethal. It takes away a person’s self-confidence. It destroys their self-worth and self-esteem. It tells them daily– that they aren’t good enough. They aren’t loved or cared about. And on top of that – it tells them they are weak. It shouts at them. Screams at them even. What is wrong with you? You should be able to handle this. Why are you so weak?
Depression is cruel. It isolates people and it cuts them off from friends and family. Before they know it, they stop talking. They become more and more inward. And when they do engage, they lash out. Angry, frustrated and hurt. Depression makes people feel unwanted and unloved and cared about. It causes paranoia to increase and insecurities to rise. It makes people doubt those they once never did. It causes arguments, stress and tension.
Depression impacts enjoyment – its loves to steal joy. What people once got pleasure out of – they now find a huge chore. What they once enjoyed doing – they suddenly can’t face or make time for. The smallest of tasks feel huge. Being around people feels too much. Being with people feels exhausting. Depression is exhausting. Its relentless. It tires you in a way you can never explain – yet you cannot sleep. Because when you try – the thoughts don’t stop. The chatter is never quiet. The self-doubt rises. The insecurities creep in – your head won’t let you rest.
Depression leads people into dark places – and those dark places include addictions – alcohol, drugs, nicotine, eating disorders – they all get worse with depression. They begin to spiral out of control and take away a person’s personality. Bit by bit that person becomes lost and they also become dependent. Dependent on the substance of choice. And in turn that makes depression ten times worse.
Depression impacts people’s ability to work, to perform, to be productive. It takes away the ability to do things well. It leads to mistakes being made; things being overlooked. It causes people to feel inadequate and to often miss what is right in front of them. Forgetfulness, lateness, absent mindedness, a struggle to concentrate. It is all real. It is all happening – you see. Depression. Not so easy to just get over is it???
The biggest thing with depression is patience. Be patient with someone who is fighting that battle. Be kind, be compassionate and understanding. They don’t mean to lash out, or forget, or dismiss. They don’t mean to be critical or absent minded or to not be able to do things. They are hurting. They are lost and they are overwhelmed. It may seem simple to you – but to them it is so complicated.
There are things however that can help. So if you or someone you know is struggling with depression – try to slow down and make some time for these –
• Talking – simplistic but true. As hard as It can be – share your feelings. No matter how irrational they may feel or seem. Talk about what’s going on.
• Write things down – from small manageable to do lists- to a keeping a journal of thoughts and feelings. Its amazing the difference it makes.
• Wind down – take a bath, light candles, read a book. Slow down and make some time for you.
• Exercise – moderately of course. At first it can feel so hard to make that change. But introducing exercise – even a couple of times a week – can make a huge difference to emotional wellbeing.
• Make sure you are eating properly. Even if you don’t feel like it – implement the structure of three meals and three snacks a day. Ensure your body is getting the right fuel that it needs.
• Work towards getting enough sleep – its easier said than done – but wind down before bed. Relax as much as possible. Journal if you wake up at night.
• Stay away from electronic devices as much as possible
• Limit your time on social media – it isn’t a healthy place to be when your feeling down. It can make you feel even lower at times.
• Find space for creativity – drawing, colouring, painting, making things – whatever suits you. It calms the mind, its very therapeutic an improves mindfulness.
• Work on mindfulness in general – being in the moment is such an important thing to be able to work towards and achieve. We get stressed and anxious when we worry about the past or the future. Focus on the here and now and things will feel so much easier.
• Slow down – rest when you need too. Take time for you when you need too.
• Make sure you are working to stay away from any additive behaviours. Things like alcohol will only make you feel lower and more down.
• Say no when you need too – you don’t have to agree to every commitment or say yes to every social event. Take some time out from the world. Things can wait.
• Take things step by step – bit by bit. Work through them gradually – one step at a time. The key is not letting things build up.
• Start seeing a therapist – counselling can really make a positive difference.
• Above all – remember you are not alone and remind yourself that you can get through this.