We’ve all seen pictures of a girl huddled in a dark room. Sometimes her legs are curled up to her chest, or her arms wrapped around her torso in a sort of self-hug. She probably has messy hair and a mascara-streaked face. But is that really what it looks like in real life?
Is it remotely possible that there is more to depression than society has the time to acknowledge?
I want to describe some common symptoms of depression, pulled mostly from my life. Why? Because I need for people to stop being blind to our pain. This isn’t about “character traits” or “annoying quirks”; it’s about symptoms that, if left alone, will break us.
Loss of Interest.
Think of your favorite hobby, the skills you’ve spent your life cultivating. Now imagine that was taken away from you.
See, I can vaguely remember the fulfillment things brought me, but that feeling is long gone. I’ve search for it until I’m too tired to search anymore. And so, slowly but surely, I gave up on everything I used to like.
There is disappointment in doing something that used to bring comfort…only to feel emptiness. It is heartbreaking. I grieve for the things I have lost. I realized a long time ago…it is easier to avoid them rather than to know their capacity to give joy has all but died.
“Depression changes you. I remember liking things. I just no longer remember why I liked them.” Source unknown.
Being Tired, Oversleeping, and/or Not Sleeping Enough
Some of us lay awake all night – emotionally and physically exhausted, yet rest evades us. Life is one long, never ending day. On the other hand, some don’t have the energy to get out of bed. We sleep and sleep, and yet never feel rested, never quite get the energy to get through the day comfortably. It’s not difficult to see why some of us live life in a constant state of torture.
Just to add to the complexity of humanity, some fall somewhere in the middle. I can lay in bed for hours, begging sleep to share the night with me. Some days I lay so very still, afraid that any movement will drive sleep away. Some days I toss and turn, desperately looking for a way to get some peace. Or I can sleep and yet never feel rested. I don’t ever feel ‘recharged’, instead I drag my way through the day. Hoping for just some sense of normalcy.
It’s being tired. A type of tired that comes from within our bones and deep within our souls. It’s fighting every day for the energy to simply live. Exhausted, burned-out, depleted…tired.
It’s the longest day you’ve ever faced, multiplied, and relived. Every single day.
“’Just tired’ she whispered. Every time. But you could see from the look on her face that is was much more than just lack of sleep.” K.L.
An odd thing about depression is that it makes us irritable. We can be quick to anger or always seem upset. Understand that this is a way to get through the day. It’s easier to be fueled by the adrenaline of anger than to fight against weariness.
As for the irritability, it’s difficult to be happy when my world is crashing down around me, when I’m doing everything I can to just hold on for another day.
I implore you, do not get angry with us. Do not allow your words to add to the weight on our shoulders. We are not trying to hurt you, drive you away, or lash out at you. We are in pain. We need your love and understanding to get through it.
“Anger is energizing. The opposite of anger is depression, which is anger turned inward.” Gloria Steinem
Weight and Appetite Change
The key question here: Is the weight and/or dietary change intentional?
Some may overeat, looking for comfort in foods and yet never quite finding it. But more common, is a lack of appetite. It’s being hungry but not being able to eat.
I never try to intentionally lose weight. Food just doesn’t taste right, nothing is quite as good as it used to be, and it doesn’t give any satisfaction. Often times, my body rejects it. It’s a constant nausea and a deep-rooted belief that food will only make it worse.
I want to take care of my body. Sometimes I don’t have enough energy, but I try. It just keeps falling apart anyway.
“I can’t eat and I can’t sleep. I’m not doing well in terms of being a functional human, you know?” Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind of a Funny Story
Depression is too complex to be neatly summarized in one post. I won’t do us the disservice of using one psychology-infused sentence to explain a symptom because depression needs to be understood. Every day that goes by in which we refuse to acknowledge this illness is another day in which we are hurting each other.
By not understanding By not taking the time to educate ourselves, to listen, to understand, to help…we offer one clear message: “You are not important.” Why else would we allow our loved ones to suffer alone? We, as a society, need to step up. Depression is not a cliche, it is not an extinct disease. It’s real and it lives among us. Question is if you’ll even recognize it.
If you are considering or planning to end your life, please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The Lifeline is a free service, and a trained professional is available to talk to you 24/7. You can also contact one of your local therapist, psychologists, or psychiatrists for help. Reach out, you are not alone. And you are loved more than you will ever realize.