“The alarm went off, and I hit snooze. What’s the point of getting up today? If I get up, I’ll have to shower. Then I will have to go to work and pretend to be ok. I’ll probably spend most of the day crying in the bathroom. Everyone hates me anyways. I’m sad all the time. My husband tries to offer support, but he doesn’t really understand what I’m going through.”
This is an example of how someone feels when they are struggling with depression. Depression is feeling sad, but it’s also a lot of other things, too. It’s hopelessness (what’s the point?). It’s a lack of energy (if I get up, ill have to shower). It’s tearfulness (I’ll probably spend most of the day crying). It’s a feeling of overwhelm that somebody unfamiliar with mental health issues may not fully understand. In fact, loved ones and friends may feel frustrated because it may feel like their support is not enough to help you feel better. While utilizing these supports is an important part of recovery, depression often requires professional help.
A depressed mind is clouded by difficult, heavy emotions like guilt, worthlessness, regret, and despair. There is rumination about past mistakes. There is a feeling of letting other people down, like you’re not good enough. Impaired judgment caused by depression can lead to self-defeating behaviors, like drinking, or not fulfilling obligations. There is a lack of joy, sometimes replaced with anger. Feeling like other people hate you, or hating yourself, is debilitating.
Depression has a genetic component, and is usually the result of an impairment with your serotonin production in the brain. That’s why antidepressant medication can be helpful. Long term, however, it is proven that therapy is the most effective form of treatment. Talk therapy rewires the brain organically, by changing the neural pathways that are created by unhealthy thinking patterns. Putting words to feelings in the safe space of the therapy room can be powerful. It gives you the chance to talk about what’s been going on, so you can step outside of it for a minute, and give it a name that is not your own.
Freeing yourself from the guilt, the self-doubt, and the self-hatred that comes along with depression may require a combination of therapy and medication. Be patient with yourself. Try not to say things to yourself that you would not say to a best friend. It can be helpful to recognize depression for what it is. We adapt so quickly to the way we’re feeling, that at some point we think it’s just who we are. For instance, someone struggling with depression starts to actually believe they are worthless. When this happens, it’s important to be able to reach out for help, and know that it’s ok to not be ok. You are not weak, you are not a burden, and you are not worthless. You are a strong adversary of a serious mental health disorder, and you will overcome it.