Depression part 11 November 2020
WHAT DOES DEPRESSION FEEL LIKE
“ … it felt like I was trying to climb up a steep gravel incline and no matter how hard I spun my wheels, it was impossible to gain any ground. I’d just keep slipping further and further down, with nothing to grab onto to stop my descent. Everything felt heavy. Doing the simplest task felt like walking through a swimming pool. Getting out of bed was damn near impossible. Getting off the couch only marginally less so. In the depths of it, if I could get out of bed before noon, make it to work, and feed myself, that felt like a good day.”Gregg Baugues – Programmer
“Having depression is like being in a coma, but you’re awake.”Ruby Wax – Comedian
HOW TO EXPLAIN DEPRESSION
I am not really a Harry Potter fan, but I watched a couple of the movies and I remember they were telling the story about this creature called ‘Dementor’. This is how they describe it: “Dementors are dark creatures that consume human happiness, creating an ambiance of coldness, darkness, misery and despair. Because of their power to drain happiness and hope from humans, they have been set the duty of being guards at Azkaban, where they prevent the prisoners from having the will or ability to escape.”
What I found interesting from that illustration is how close it is in depicting how depression works: depression brings you down to your knees because it takes away the willingness and ability to do a lot of things. When you’re going through a bout of depression, even simple things like getting up, getting out of bed and taking a shower feel like insurmountable tasks.
Depression hurts, and it is real. I think Chris Brogan explained it best here,
“Often, people think I’m “down in the dumps” when I talk about depression. That’s not at all what I am. I’m going through a series of chemical reactions to some external stressor blended with inadequate or overtaxed internal coping mechanisms. Depression is a blend of external forces working on your chemistry and against your current capabilities, your past history, and a few wild card factors. It’s not “I feel sad because I didn’t win that award.” That’s something completely different.”Chris Brogan – Writer
Depression is not “just your imagination”. With the technology that we have now, we have the proof that a depressed brain is different compare to a healthy brain.
A PET scan can compare brain activity during periods of depression (left) with normal brain activity (right). An increase of blue and green colors, along with decreased white and yellow areas, shows decreased brain activity due to depression.
MY TAKE ON DEPRESSION
I have suffered from depression bouts since I was a teenager. Most of them were short, mild and bearable, and yet several were long, severe, and felt almost unbearable.
One of the things that saved me was getting the right knowledge about depression. Understanding that depression is the sickness of the brain; that it is not a flaw in someone’s character has helped me immensely in warding off shame.
We humans are mortal beings. Our organs can get sick, including our brain. We shouldn’t feel ashamed of having to take brain medications when needed just like a person with diabetes will not feel ashamed of taking insulin shots.
I am not writing this article to talk about the science of depression, but simply to assure you that depression is real.
It is not your fault that you have depression, but it is your responsibility to take care of yourself.
You can educate yourself, and help others around you to understand about this sickness and how they can help support you.
Why does it matter? Just like other chronic, lifelong diseases, depression can be fatal. It can kill you. Sadly, even with the scientific advances that we have now, we still can’t ‘heal’ depression.
Depression is not curable, but it is treatable. And we can also learn many different coping mechanisms that we can apply during those painful times of relapses. From my experience, not just a single one of them will work every time, but keep the hope up and keep on trying different methods that will work for you for that particular time.
To close, I want to leave you with two things.
ONE, if you suffer from depression, I hope this compassionate letter from Stephen Fry below can help you to see depression from a different perspective, to help you build patience and be kind to yourself.
TWO, if you have a loved one who suffer from depression, please take the time to watch this video to understand how it feels like to have this sickness, and how you react to our situation can make a big difference.
Thank you for reading
If you know someone who’s depressed please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather. Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest and best things you will ever do.Stephen Fry
Picture credit : Prerna Seth