Saturday, 30 May 2015

10 things nobody ever tells you about depression

1) It's not just about being sad
Many people think that the only emotion in depression is sadness and being low in mood, when it's unfortunately so so much more than that. Numbness, guilt, helplessness, apathy - just some of the negative emotions that people with depression often suffer from. Depression also presents so differently in one person to another. On the upside, it means that depressed individuals also experience happiness much more intensely and appreciate happy times so much more - and I think that's really special.

2) It's painful
Depression is painful. Not just emotionally, but physically too. I often get a physical pain in my chest or ache all over when I'm feeling really down. In fact the pain, usually the emotional pain, can become quite overwhelming and crippling.

3) It's terrifying
Depression is so scary, it can make you feel so alone and want to physically hurt yourself. The negative thoughts can be terrifying and the emotions that come along with it can often be worse.

4) There is no symptomatic relief
It's not like if you're in pain, you can just take some paracetamol; or if you're feeling sick you can have an anti-emetic. There is no symptomatic relief for depression. No way of switching off emotions or stopping the negative thoughts.

5) It's exhausting
Imagine having no energy all of the time; not even enough to get out of bed or to brush your teeth. Depression messes up your sleeping pattern - I often find myself not being able to sleep at night and being exhausted throughout the day, having to take long naps to keep my energy levels at a functional level. Even if I get a good night's sleep I still feel tired all the time when I am suffering with my depression.

6) You will have good days
One of the stigmas around depression is that you have to be down all the time - you won't be. People with depression have good days, and on those good days they can even feel happy. It's a little chink of light in such dark times.

7) You become irrational
Depression causes your thoughts to become completely irrational, and you start believing them. You believe that you are a bad person, that people would be better off without you, that it's your fault that something bad has happened. Yet on the good days you will realise that none of these thoughts are true.

8) The smallest of tasks become overwhelming
...but you will celebrate when you complete them. Things like washing your hair, cooking a meal or doing the ironing become huge feats - all you want to do is crawl back into bed and never come out again. But when you do complete small tasks it is a massive achievement, and that's okay.

9) It becomes difficult to see a future
It often seems like there is no way out of depression, and that you won't really have a future because of it. Sometimes I can't see the next hour, let alone the next day. It's so difficult to see a way out of the darkness, but you need to keep faith because you will get better - it is possible.

10) Your depression doesn't have to take over
You don't have to become your depression - you are still you. Don't give in, keep fighting, and remember that it's not a part of your personality, it is just an illness that you're suffering with. You're not a depressed person; you're a person with depression. There's a difference.
Every life has a purpose. We need to let go of the past. Live in the present. Do not waste today worrying about what will happen tomorrow. Embrace your true spirit, embrace and listen to grace and you be transformed in the moment. Do not fixate on what you want but give thanks for what you have.
                      - Caroline Myss


  1. Well done for writing this Hannah, I think many people who don't suffer with depression seem to find it so difficult to understand. I find having an every day diary helps, if I manage to complete any task no matter how trivial, I write it down before I go to bed, and then I can look back and say well at least I got that done, today wasn't a completely wasted day! And talking to friends who do understand is vital, I'm going through a real rough patch at the moment and each hour is a struggle, I felt bad for getting up so late today but just felt like I couldn't face getting up, but chatting to my friend earlier really helped. I guess you've just got to really focus on the fact that in time, it will pass and better things will come, so keep holding on! :-/

    1. Thank you Dani. That's a really good idea. I also find that understanding friends and family really help to make a huge difference. I'm sorry to hear that you're not doing too well at the moment - sometimes you just need to let yourself have a day in bed and focus on getting better. Stop beating yourself up about it! xx

  2. You're amazing Hannah, thinking of you :)

    The Medic Journal

  3. An excellent description of what living with depression is like!!

  4. Well done on writing such a personal post that takes some guts! And it is all true! Depression is a horrible horrible thing!
    I really want that 14,000 things to be happy about book! x

    1. Thank you Paige! It's a really good book :) xx