Depression can create a numbness to life. For those struggling with it, it can be hard to explain just how it feels day in and day out. Andrew Solomon manages to do this amazingly in the video at the end of this post. Depression does not always make the victim of it feel sad or just simply “down.” It can be a profound numbness to life. No excitement in things you once loved. No willpower to go forward with. To feel much of anything would be progress, but all too often sadness is waiting to overwhelm.
Depression is a holistic illness. It’s not just your emotions, but your physical life force, emotional well-being, and spiritual essence are all affected. It’s as if a “dark night of the soul” has no dawn and never will. Treating it needs to incorporate all aspects of your life. It can be extremely stubborn and feel overwhelming, but it can be beaten. If you are depressed, seek help! Depression is a truly dangerous disease that can get worse if left untreated.
While not all depressed people are suicidal, they all are in tremendous pain. The numbness simply cloaks that pain. The energy to express emotions is hard to access, and being cheered up can almost feel invalidating. This can make it seem like the person doesn’t really want to get better. A person may withdraw from their social life and tend to isolate themselves. This will make depression even worse. If you or someone you know is struggling with it, try to avoid isolating. It may feel like the thing to do, it often does not help and can even backfire. If you have this disease you may be saying to yourself, “that’s easier said than done!”
When people do commit suicide, we are often left with asking why. Why was the person so selfish? Why were they a coward? These are not the questions to ask. A better way to understand it would be if you were trapped on the roof of a skyscraper that was on fire. You know jumping will kill you, but it’s better than being burned alive. With depression, the desire is to end an enormous amount of pain. It is hard to empathize or care for others when one is overwhelmed by it. If a parent has it, it can be very difficult for their kids as the parent may just not have the energy to do what they need to do leaving any kids feeling almost as if they have been abandoned.
One thing to keep in mind is that depression can often create a very distorted view about one’s life. It’s not unlike going to a fun house where the mirrors are distorting one’s reflection. Except the reflection is how you look at your life. Nevertheless, that distortion is the absolute reality for that person.
One final note, if you have been struggling with depression and are feeling better and are on medication, be very careful going off of it!!! That is one of the most dangerous times you can encounter. I cannot stress that enough. You will suffer setbacks and may feel defeated all over again. When that happens depression can come back with a vengeance. Make sure you let people know what you are doing and do whatever you need to keep yourself safe.