This is an older article that I had published in the local newspaper, it’s something that I thought I still should share.
First of all, I am not sad. I hate it when people make the assumption that just because I have depression I’m sad all the time like Eeyore. I’m depressed not sad, there’s a difference believe it or not. The “official” definition of depression, from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is this:
“Major depression is also known as clinical depression, major depressive illness, major affective disorder and unipolar mood disorder. It involves some combination of the following symptoms: depressed mood (sadness), poor concentration, insomnia, fatigue, appetite disturbances, excessive guilt and thoughts of suicide. Left untreated, depression can lead to serious impairment in daily functioning and even suicide, which is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Researchers believe that more than one-half of people who die by suicide are experiencing depression.”
Now for my definition: Depression is the inability to do the things that you used to love, you can’t seem to wake up, you feel like nothing you do is right, and there’s this immense cloud and/or void that feels like it’s going to swallow you whole. Yes, sadness does play a part in it but it’s a different kind of sadness–the worse kind: the kind that doesn’t go away no matter how many funny movies you watch, or how long you hang out with your friends. Your brain is your worst enemy because it can’t produce enough happy juice to get you through the day and it constantly reminds you of how much you suck, how awful life is and how nobody cares about you and your pathetic life.
My brain was telling me two different things; see I have this logic thing that was telling me the exact opposite of what my emotions were. It was like Jekyll and Hyde: the light side was telling me that I was loved, I had no reason to want to die, and I needed to talk to someone; the dark side was telling me that I wanted to die, and I wouldn’t be missed. The thing about depression is that there is so much that people don’t know, they seem to think that people can help it and when they finally do pull that trigger, pop that last pill, or tighten that noose; they think that they have a choice and they don’t. They can’t stop it, they are ashamed of themselves. They’re terrified that they’re going to be seen as weak, over-dramatic, or silly. It’s this stigma that people have about depression that makes people more depressed!
Depression is a disease, an illness. It’s just as serious as high blood pressure or diabetes. It needs daily medication just like the said conditions. I take medication every day, and I’m not ashamed to say so; I need these medications like a person with diabetes needs insulin. If I don’t take the medicine I am a horrible person to be around, when I don’t take my medication I sink back into a deep, dark place; I become moody, lethargic, I can’t concentrate, and I don’t enjoy things that I used to. It makes me so angry when people have this idea that having depression is the person’s fault. You wouldn’t blame someone for having cancer, diabetes, or high blood pressure; stop blaming people who have depression, stop telling them to “cheer up” or “get over it.”
I hope that in reading this you can get a new idea on depression. That you see it’s a disease, not a fleeting illness that can be treated for a week and then expect the patient to be all better. It requires patience and as much understanding as you can muster.