“Can’t you just stop being sad?” “Why don’t you get over it already?” “Go out, get some sun, you’ll feel better.” “We all get sad sometimes. It passes.”
We’ve all heard these platitudes before; some of us might even say them at times. And they’re usually said to someone claiming to suffer from depression. Why do I say claim? Because the unfortunate reality is that the majority of those who’ve never dealt with clinical depression don’t understand clinical depression. They have a skewed perception of what depression actually is, and they don’t recognize it as a chronic issue that never actually goes away.
Their fault? Not necessarily. Media and lack of government support do their fair share of damage. But the result is the same.
People think being depressed means being sad, and yes, we all get sad sometimes. But that’s not what having depression means.
Having depression goes so far beyond feeling sad. In truth, sometimes–most of the time–we don’t feel sad at all. We feel a whole array of other feelings, though.
We feel angry. We feel tired. We feel useless. We feel apathetic. We feel listless. We feel isolated.
We lose all sense of hope. We hate ourselves. We worry constantly. We sit, motionless, staring at nothing, unable to do anything else.
We collapse under the weight of guilt we feel for being constantly angry, tired, useless, apathetic, isolated, and hopeless. We consider suicide because we truly do believe the world, and those around us, would be better off if they didn’t have to deal with us–and then we feel guilty, because we’re told suicide is a selfish act. We question if we’re good enough, if we’re doing enough, if we’re trying hard enough–and then feel guilty when the answer is inevitably no. We inwardly berate ourselves to get up, take a shower, get dressed, take a walk, make a phone call, hug our kids, make dinner, go out and see a movie, live for chrissakes–and then feel guilty when we literally can’t.
Being depressed isn’t something any of us has asked for. It isn’t easy, and it isn’t something we just get over. Because it isn’t something we can control.
Sure, we can take medication. Sometimes–for the lucky ones, of which I consider myself one–it works. It keeps our worlds from spinning completely off their axes and drifting aimlessly through space. But more often than not, medication is worse than the depression itself.
And we don’t get to choose when depression decides to rear its ugly head. For me, most recently, it was Valentine’s Day. My husband brought me home a beautiful set of earrings and a necklace, along with a box of chocolates. It was sweet and romantic, and I loved him for it. But the entire day was nothing but a massive clusterfuck for me.
I wasn’t happy. I wanted to be, but I wasn’t.
I wasn’t gushing with romance. I wanted to be, but I wasn’t.
I wasn’t overcome with the need to be affectionate. I wanted to be, but I wasn’t.
I didn’t initiate sex. I wanted to, but I couldn’t.
Depression sabotaged my Valentine’s Day, and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about, no matter how I tried. And I did try.
That’s the thing. We all try. We try so damn hard, because the rest of the world thinks we don’t, and we’re so sick of feeling like failures, that it’s all we can do to keep trying. Because maybe one day, it will be enough. Maybe one day, we won’t feel like a failure anymore.
Except it won’t be, and we will. Isn’t that a depressing thought?
Yeah. You’re damn right it is.