I’m writing when I don’t want to, but NEED to.
I need to admit the struggle I’m currently having with my depression. Not because I haven’t acknowledged it as being an issue, but because I don’t show it and it is important for people to understand that depression doesn‘t “look“ one way or another. Depression isn’t something that can be identified by looking at someone. It is hard to identify even within yourself. I’ve been receiving treatment for depression for the better part of 12 years and I still have a hard time identifying when my depression is increasing. Truth is, it is easy to write off as being something else, which is exactly what I’ve been doing for the last few weeks.
I survived, and passed, both summer semester classes and was looking forward to having a couple of weeks with all of my evenings free of class meetings and classwork. My plans for my free time included reading for fun, catching up on some of the shows I watch alone, and catching up with friends and my family. I have read only a few chapters because I can’t keep my focus. Incoming phone calls go to voicemail and plans remain tentative. Not because I don’t care or love them, but because the concept of being social is too overwhelming to commit to.
I’m tired ALL THE TIME. I wake up from a restful night sleep- exhausted. I wake up on the weekend after sleeping in- still exhausted. No matter how long or how high the quality of sleep is, I am still tired. First I thought it was just my body catching up from a busy summer working camp and keeping up with a fast paced summer semester. When enough time had gone by in which I felt I should be caught up on rest, I then started to wonder if I was getting sick or fighting off an illness, but other than being desperately tired I felt fine. The only thing left I could think of on my quest for self-diagnosis was my depression. Even after 12+ years of treatment for it, I still find myself trying to deny its existence in my life.
Here were my thoughts of why it WASN’T depression:
I’m not sad.
I haven’t missed taking my anti-depressant.
I feel joy in moments throughout the day.
I’m still smiling and laughing.
No one has noticed me acting out of the usual.
I’m not sad.
Yes, I know I put that one twice. But depression isn’t synonymous with being sad. Depression emerges differently for everyone at different times. For example, I have had bouts of my depression in which I was visibly sad and miserable emotionally. But, there have been times when my depression is harder to recognize, like right now. My body is physically telling me more than my emotions are. The physical fatigue is a sign that I’m using more energy than normal just to function through my daily responsibilities. I don’t have any left over after that for much else. My lack of focus is another sign. It’s not an issue I typically have, especially when reading a book I am really invested in. The main emotional signals I have received that hint that my struggle is from depression is the lack of interest and enjoyment in doing any activity that requires me to leave the house and my brain turning the most menial thought to catastrophe. Example- I had to cancel plans with my best friend because my dog hurt his leg and I wanted to stay home to monitor him. She didn’t reply for a few hours and my brain instantly believed that she hated me and that she would never want to be my friend again.
As I sit here typing, on my phone because the thought of pulling my computer out caused me to stress out (don’t judge), I feel my anxiety rising. So I’ll wrap it up.
Depression is a sneaky devil. It doesn’t look or feel one way for everyone. It isn’t something that is easy to admit to no matter how educated you are on the illness or how many years you have been fighting it. I will be linking some resources below. If you think you may be struggling with depression or know and love someone who is, they may be helpful. Never forget that you ARE NOT ALONE. There is no shame in asking for help and support. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Save the number in your phone in the event you or someone you know were ever to need it. You are WORHTY!
<3 Stay Strong and Beautiful