I want to talk to you today about something that plagues a lot of people's lives, and makes it so they can't live their lives well: depression.
True clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or longer. It can make it so you don't want to get out of bed, you don't want to see family or friends, you don't want to eat, you either want to sleep all the time or you can't sleep at all. There are so many signs and symptoms of depression that it's hard to pinpoint them all.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of depression may include the following:
*Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
*Fatigue and decreased energy
*Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
*Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
*Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
*Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
*Overeating or appetite loss
*Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
*Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
*Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
I suffer from depression. I have days where I just want to crawl into a hole and not come out ever again. I lose interest in everything - my writing, my husband, my cat, my life. I snap at Himself when he tries to get me to come out of it. I feel like nothing in life will ever be right again. This can go on for hours, days, or as the definition suggests, weeks.
I am on medication to curb my depressive episodes and it works for the most part. But depression isn't something I can simply "get over". It's in my head, yes, but it's not "all in my head" in the sense that I can just push it away as if it were nothing.
I've contemplated suicide three times in the past few years. All three times I had a plan and I was just waiting to put it into action. Thankfully Himself, my friends, and my therapist all caught me before I could go through with it and got me the help I needed. Suicidal thoughts are not uncommon in people who suffer from depression.
According to Web MD, an estimated 19 million American adults suffer from major depression. That's 19 million people who have their lives interrupted by something they can't consciously control. That's 19 million people who may at one point or another contemplate ending their lives because they can't handle it anymore. That's 19 million people who need love and support, not condemnation.
I have faced a lot of ridicule and discrimination because of my mental illness. People don't believe that I have problems. They think it's something I can control. I can to a certain extent, with proper medication and other treatments. But it's always there and sometimes even the medication isn't enough to fight it off. On those days I curl up, I hide from the world, and I sleep. I sleep a lot. I don't eat unless Himself forces me to eat and I won't get out of bed unless Himself forces me out of bed. Those are the days I need love and support the most, and I get it from my husband.
If you have a friend or loved one who is suffering from any kind of mental illness, remember that it's not something they can consciously control. Offer them love and support. Don't turn away from them. Educate yourself on their mental illness so you can understand what's going on. If you suffer from a mental illness yourself, educate yourself on what to expect. Learn all you can about it.