This post is for the people who would like to understand depression and why people can't just "smile" or "feel better".
THE STIGMA OF DEPRESSION:
When I spoke publicly about my depression, many people thanked me for breaking the "Stigma of Depression". I want to address this, because there is a negative stigma around it and it needs to stop. The stigma can change and it starts with YOU. Did you know 16.1 Million Americans suffer from some form of depression? Or that 350 Million people in the world? Depression is a disability and we should treat it as one instead of a mood swing. I wish that there were days that I could've taken off of work because of depression. I could not handle the pressure of my workload, relationship or society. If people could understand that I needed that day for my personal health, I could've been that much more sharp the next day because I had time to process my depression and seek help. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way unless you call in sick or have a really good excuse for taking a personal day so suddenly.
Along with the negative stigma towards depression is the same stigma towards therapy. Guess what, everyone can benefit from therapy. Did you know a life/career coach is considered therapy? How about yoga, meditation, journal writing (blogging) and art? Therapy is a great way to feel better and to find ways to move your stress out of your mind or body.
WHAT IS DEPRESSION:
Studies have shown that depression can be genetic (to 40% of the population) and the rest is caused from environment. I believe my depression is a mixture of both. The American Psychiatric Association states that depression (or major depressive order) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.
Have you had the opportunity to ask a person with depression what it means or feels to them? [Ask me!]
The best I can describe it is a black hole that has a depth to infinity and I am somewhere in the middle looking for any light or space. When I feel my lowest (metaphorically in the middle of this hole), there is somehow more darkness below me. It's doubt and doubt turns into hopelessness. It's clenching your fists and screaming inside so hard that it makes your head hurt. It's the numbness of your body while you hold yourself in fetal position hoping to comfort yourself. It's the welling of tears when you aren't sure why you are about to cry, but hold them back. It's your mind blocking out easy tasks until they pile up and you feel overwhelmed. Its debilitating.
WORDS TO DESCRIBE DEPRESSION:
Melancholy, Destructive, Neutral, Lost, Muscle Clenching, Worthless, Agitation, Heavy, Darkness, Sensitivity, Emotional, Gloomy, Disinterested, Worthless, Loss of Interest, Restless, Tired, Can't Carry a Conversation, Somber, Careless, Sadness, Knots in Your Stomach, Impassive, Passionless, Blank, Cold.
People with depression are some of the strongest people. They feel these emotions and put them aside to put on a front when with others. I spend majority of my time being an extrovert and by the time I get home at night, I feel extra worn out from just engaging in conversations.
Think of your most stressful day. Maybe it's related to your finances, your role at work, or a relationship falling apart. Whatever you might be dealing with will eventually work out in a few days. For a person with depression, they fight mental battles for long periods at a time. Some are battling for years or decades. Do you think you could battle those feelings [from your most stressful day] for an entire year?
If you know someone who is depressed, I encourage you to support them and lift them up. Ultimately their path to happiness depends on their efforts, but having a friend to support them is going to make it easier to start or keep going. Spread Love! Love will always win!
IF YOU HAVE DEPRESSION:
If the words to describe depression resonates with you, then I encourage you to find help immediately. There is a 'cure' for depression and you can stop it by starting your journey towards balance. Asking a loved one for help is the first step, seeing a therapist is another and from there you will start to climb up towards a better balanced life. You will learn the tools to lead a more healthy life. You have to find the strength to start. After you begin, you will start to feel the weight's come off one by one.
BREAKING THE STIGMA:
I hope you can understand that depression is a sickness, disease, and disability. Have a little more compassion for people and stop telling them to just 'toughen up' or 'forget about it'. Breaking the stigma is only going to happen through more awareness. I am not asking you to say that you stand for depression but if you do, and you feel strongly about it....Speak up! Speak up for me and the people who don't have it in them to stand up for themselves. Share stories that you know x amount of people with depression and how they have found ways to cope. Share positivism when you hear others talk negatively or unsure about depression.
Post about my healing journey with depression (read here) and therapist recommendation.