From someone who has struggled with depression practically all their life, and has been diagnosed with MDD(Major Depression Disorder), I just want to make it clear to those who don’t battle this, and for those who have a hard time explaining it, so that our society as a whole understands it, if only just a little bit better than before.
To start, here’s the definition as per Google: “a mental disorder characterized by a persistently depressed mood and long-term loss of pleasure or interest in life, often with other symptoms such as disturbed sleep, feelings of guilt or inadequacy, and suicidal thoughts.”
In terms of defining a condition, I think that is pretty accurate. I think that they hit the big points of interest when it comes to understanding what it is, and that’s what it supposed to explain.
What I want to explain to everyone is what exactly do each of these points look like to someone who has this diagnosis. So let’s start with the big one that pretty much is the umbrella over the other points, which is the long term loss of pleasure or interest in life.
Loss of Pleasure/Interest in Life
Having little pleasure or interest doesn’t mean that we are actually disinterested in life. Everyone who has depression, I think, has a more motivation to want to experience life than those who don’t have it. The problem is that right when we even get the slightest taste of being interested, the depressed state creeps in to overtake it. I can remember numerous occasions where I actually was the one to make plans with people to do something fun, but when it gets closer, I become numb and think to myself, “I don’t think i’ll have fun. Maybe I should just stay home, and say that I’m busy or something came up last minute.” It seriously isn’t that we don’t want to do anything. We just get interrupted by these thoughts, and it really sucks. Like I have anxiety as well, so putting these feelings in line with that makes me have a panic attack almost immediately. It’s really the worst. And this can really ruin friendships, which just adds on to the pile of crap that we have to deal with.
For the person that doesn’t have depression, here’s the short answer to clarify this feeling. Imagine you just got fired. Like you had your dream job, and someone with less experience and know how just came in and replaced you for no reason. Pretty terrible, right? Now, imagine you had that feeling, all day everyday, but you still had your dream job. You didn’t get fired, but for no reason whatsoever, you still experience this feeling of absolute dread. That’s depression in a nutshell. Maybe times that feeling by two to ten, and you’ll be in the ballpark.
Okay disturbed sleep. Now I actually have insomnia due to my depression and anxiety. I take medication to actually shut down my brain from all the BS that runs around it just so I can get some zzzzz. Before I took this medication, I would average between two to four hours of sleep a night. I hated it, but I was able to function because my brain was always going a million miles a minute. But going to bed sucked. So when you experience the sadness that I explained above, you can imagine that these thoughts and the dread that comes with them will literally disturb you out of a good sleep. You are constantly worrying about every little thing and feeling like you did something wrong in the day time that it follows you to bed. And the sleep that you do get isn’t even sleep. It’s like a halfway kind of sleep. You can still sense the room and everything around you, but you are just enough tired to roll over hoping that you get a little more comfortable so that you can knock out. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t.
Feelings of Quilt and Inadequacy/Suicidal Thoughts
I’m adding these together because they can go hand in hand. The feelings of quilt and inadequacy are the basis for suicidal thoughts. Some people will never experience suicidal thoughts, and some battle them everyday. Now there are suicidal thoughts, suicidal ideations, which is the plan you have when contemplating suicide. This is a higher level of than suicidal thoughts because you have a defined plan as to how you want to die, and then there’s the action of attempting or committing suicide, or what is called “suiciding” in today’s mental health community. This is due to the implication that committing suicide is implying that the person did something wrong when they took their own life. You might think, “Well ya they killed themselves. That’s wrong.” But here is where those of you that think that are WAY wrong.
If you have heard this before, well i’m going to say it again. No one who attempts suicide or actually follows through with it actually wants to die. It is not an act of selfishness, it does not make those who survived any less different than you. I say this because I was there, I had a plan to kill myself. Like mapped out to how i’d do it. I had everything. I was ready to go. I was at that moment where I was thinking of just seeing if I could follow through with it. And you know what? It scared the shit out of me. Absolutely the most terrifying thing you could ever imagine. The only thing stopping me was the thought of my family members crying after they had found out I was dead. I couldn’t bare to have that image run through my head as did it.
No one wants to die. No one. If someone tells you that they want to die, they don’t. They just can’t stand the pain. They want it to stop. What I said above regarding that these people are selfish is one hundred percent true. We think about everyone and everything as we contemplate death. We way the options, even in the final seconds, but the problem with why people actually do it is still vague. From my personal experience with it, death and my life were like two separate roads that never met. There was no way for me to compare the thought of not feeling pain to the thought of me having a good life to live for. It was like having two completely different mindsets. Like if you were to try to compare what shoes you were going to wear with what you ate last week, that’s the correlation that these thoughts had with each other. I just wanted the sadness and fear to go away. I love my family more than anything, and could that have played a part in my decision, of course. But there is just some part of me that couldn’t take it anymore, the depression. So that’s why I had a plan. If it got so bad, I had a way out.
I am not saying that everyone needs to believe in God to get beat their demons, but my belief in the Man upstairs saved me. I prayed like hell every time I was going down that dark road. I would be balling my eyes out, pleading with God to make the fear and the sadness to just stop. I would do that every night. For years a found myself on my knees asking God to get me through the night. And you know what? Here I am, writing this to you. Is it a coincidence? Maybe, but someone close to me once told me that they’d rather believe in something beautiful all their life and it not be there after than for it to be there after, and they never had given it a chance. I believe in God with all my heart and soul.
Whatever you have to believe in, whatever you have to think about(your dog, your mom, your friends, your coworker who says hi to everyday), think about it. Don’t EVER GIVE UP! If you are reading this as a person who doesn’t understand depression, I beg you to reach out to your friend or coworker or family member. Show them some love. Give them a smile. You have no idea what it could do for their day.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
TEXT HOME HOTLINE
Call: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), mon-fri, 10am-6pm ET