What does depression look like?
My WhatsApp folder is filled with endless pictures of Sushant Singh Rajput. His bravery in the face of adversity, his energy, his spirit. Instagram has page after page of real fans, crying about how much he meant to them. How much they saw themselves in him.
Depression comes in so many colors and shapes. From prickly blues to persistent sadness to the scary I-don’t-want-to-wake-up-today. A lot of us have also grown up around depressed family and friends and ironically that can make it harder for us to recognize and accept it in ourselves.
What’s even more exhausting? If so many of us are depressed, how do we begin to get the energy to cheer someone else up?
I’m 37. I’ve had clinical depression for half my life. Some days I can be so perky and positive. And there are other times, where I want to stay in the inky darkness under the sheets, hoping to float away into nothingness. This diagnosis is real and something that will always be a part of my life. Like alcoholism and hypertension, some of these mental health illnesses don’t ever go away completely. They can be tamed and treated, but need constant tending so there isn’t a relapse.
I’ve teetered on the metaphorical edge sometimes, wanting to give up, to go away and not feel the sadness anymore. But while I’m scared of life, I’m even more terrified of dying and losing everything and everyone who mean so much to me.
Your depression may look different. It may present as anger, directed at yourself or at the world. It may look like disinterest and apathy, not wanting to engage in social events and conversations. For someone else, it could be laughing too much, too loudly, too often; anything to distract from the emptiness within. In young children, it may show up as bullying and acting out, tummy aches and phobias. Men usually either go on rage filled rants or stay silent, brimming with resentment.
And for a select few, it may coexist with anxiety and a host of other mental health issues. Living with depression is exhausting. For us. But also for our support system of family and friends . A little grace and forgiveness extended their way will help us all heal together.
If you suspect you might have depression, please seek help. Find a few good friends here or elsewhere and reach out to them. If they don’t help you the way you want to be helped, then forgive them and move on. The world is so big and you’ll find your tribe somewhere. There are wonderful support groups on facebook, that can help so much, when you’re struggling. Seek professional care and counseling, group therapy and self help books. If it gets too hairy, stop everything and call your doctor/ therapist.
And consider medication. Don’t be afraid to go the medication route, it simply means you have a very real, but very treatable illness. (I have been on antidepressants for a while, and they have been literal lifesavers).
And if you don’t know them already, learn about the signs of depression. I’m attaching a few links at the bottom of this post, along with a nifty little checklist that you can take to self evaluate. Educate yourself and others, the best you can. It could save someone else’s life. Most importantly, it could save yours.
So, what does your depression look like? Please share.