People often imagine a depressed person as someone who is sad all of the time. But there is much more to it than that. Everyone gets sad or has “the blues” from time to time, and that is completely normal. It is also normal to feel extreme sadness and show other symptoms like crying when in periods of grief. Clinical depression is different and is not normal sadness.
A brief example of the criteria for depression from The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual are depression most of the day, every day, reduced interest or pleasure in activities, changes in weight (gain or loss), feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, and thoughts of death or suicidal ideation. These are all clinical terms and can be very subjective. The terms are clinical and depend on honest reports from the patient about what they are feeling. But these criterion leave out so much of what a depressed individual’s life is actually like. Next, I’ll outline some of the lesser talked about symptoms from my own experience.
First, not being able to get out of bed for days. Not for anything. Not to shower, not to eat, not to watch TV. Everything feels like a giant, exhausting struggle, and when you’re depressed, you don’t see what the point is in getting out of bed and engaging with life. This has obvious effects on weight, and personal hygiene, but when I am in a depression, I really don’t care about those things. I’m just trying to survive. The mental and physical exhaustion is overpowering.
Isolation is a huge one for me personally. When I’m feeling a depression, I isolate myself from everyone and everything. No seeing family, no seeing friends, no social media. Being around people is exhausting. It is too difficult to put on a happy face and smile or act like your normal self. And I have no desire to engage in any social activity. I don’t feel like I’m worth it and nobody would want me there anyway.
Many other negative emotions come with feeling depressed. A couple of examples are guilt and shame. You feel guilty for not being able to keep up with commitments or being a good parent/friend/relative, etc. You feel ashamed for feeling the way you do and think that you should be able to “snap out of it”, which I believe comes from the stigma associated with mental illness.
Finally, loss of enjoyment and pleasure or ability to carry out daily activities. I am a person with several hobbies, but when I’m depressed, I don’t engage in any of them. I also have my own home and have responsibilities to maintain it. Below I’ll show some photos of what my house can look like when I’m in the middle of a depression. Piles of unfolded or unwashed laundry. Dirty dishes for days without being washed. Floors that need sweeping and washing. Bed not being made. These are just a few examples.
It’s really embarrassing to see these photos but I feel that they need to be shared so that people know that they are not alone. If it is so hard to have the energy to take a shower, imagine how difficult housework must be!
But this does not need to be your life!! I’m working on another post that is going to explain further, but give yourself lots of self-love when you are feeling this way. Ask for help if you have people in your life who can help you. There is nothing to be ashamed of, despite the stigma. You can beat the depression. It’s not an easy task by any means, but you can do this!! It has taken me years of work to try and improve my depression. I’m not perfect, and I still have my days, but I’m learning how to show myself love when I need it and get through a depressive episode much more easily than I could before. More to come!!