A cliche at this point, but this is still a relevant chart.
So, I’m going through a LOT of overwhelming B.S. right now. I’m unsatisfied with my living and working situation, there’s a lot of various panic and concern going on in my family, I’m worried for the well being of many loved ones, and I’m starting to lose faith in myself and my abilities.
Basically, it’s the worst time ever for depression to hit.
Of course, every time I or someone I know goes through one of these depressive episodes, someone has to start up with their s*** thinking that they’re helping when they’re really just belittling us with classic catchphrases like, “what do you have to be sad about,” “just go outside and walk it off,” and my personal favorite, “it’s all in your head.”
Well, I’m fed up. I’m converting that soul-crushing despair into white-hot anger and dispelling a few of the myths that have been keeping me and people like me down for years all because people are too lazy or too ignorant to take the time to understand a serious psychological disorder.
Depression isn’t just being sad
Everyone gets sad sometimes; that’s just a fact of life. But the thing to remember is that sadness can be overcome quite easily. It’s one bad day or an unfortunate event that eventually passes.
Depression is MUCH more severe.
A depressive episode is so intense that it saps your ability to function and even perform daily tasks; you lose drive and hope. And you would lose hope too if you had to endure an inexplicable sense of apathy for weeks or, more often, even months.
Depression is so much more than just inexplicable sadness; it’s a complex neural imbalance that not only drains a person’s will but affects people differently and to different degrees.
Coping with depression isn’t the same as treating it
I was diagnosed clinically depressed when I was about 8 years old. I have bounced around from one medication to another with none producing the effects I needed or, if they did work properly, quickly resulted in diminishing returns as I grew more resistant to them. I came to the conclusion that finding a non-chemical solution was a better alternative. So, I started building up a philosophy to help cope with those thoughts and feelings that crop up during a depressive episode. In fact, I’ve shared a good chunk of that philosophy with you right here already.
But please note that I said, “COPE with;” not treat. My depression is still very much active – often times without anybody noticing it beyond listlessness and exhaustion.
Because depression can affect everyone to different degrees and in different ways, coping isn’t always an option. Belittling people for needing to rely on an anti-depressant to achieve a balanced mind so they can function is akin to mocking an amputee for using a prosthetic limb instead of hopping around on one leg.
Being active can help… TO A POINT
One of the things that I got a lot when I was dealing with depression in my early days was that I wasn’t physically active enough. They kept telling that if I exercised and got my dopamine pumping, I’d feel better.
And yes, the dopamine from physical activity can help stave off the symptoms of depression (again, coping is NOT treatment), but it’s rarely an ideal solution.
First of all, depression often places you in a state of apathy where you can’t be motivated to act making it difficult just to get started with a workout routine (hence why I refuse to spend money on a gym membership like so many suggest to me).
Secondly, don’t forget that, at the end of the day, dopamine is a drug – a highly addictive drug that often has diminishing returns if you’re swimming in the stuff constantly. Addiction leads to desperation. And when the primary method of getting a dopamine boost is physical thrills, you may be inclined to do more reckless things to get your fix. Have you ever seen those thrill seekers that do stupidly dangerous stuff for fun? Yeah, that’s what dopamine addiction looks like.
In conclusion, don’t treat people with depression like sad sacks looking for attention. They really are going through hell and you just can’t see it. Also, don’t ignore your depression if you’re a sufferer. If you find that coping isn’t a working option for you, talk to a doctor or therapist as soon as possible.
Take care of yourselves, know that you’re loved, and remember – whatever you’re feeling right now, it’s not your fault.