March 15, 2021
Hi Friends! Welcome back. This week I will be talking about Depression. As per usual, I’ve chosen a broad topic and feel like once we get the basics down we can dive in further. I have personally struggled with Depression for as long as I can remember, so this feels a bit like cheating. To start, Depression can be many things but the important thing to remember is it’s not often just “sadness.” Its also more common than you might think. According to Verywellmind: “8.7% of women have depression and 5.3% of men have depression. As of 2017, 300 million people around the world have depression, according to the World Health Organization.” That’s a lot of people! If you have never experienced depression, here are the basic terms. From Psychiatry.org: “Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at work and at home.” Cases can range from mild to severe, often with ebbs and flows in between. There is Major Depressive Disorder, and there is also “Bipolar disorder (formerly called manic-depressive illness or manic depression [bipolar depression]) is a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.” -NIMH.gov. I won’t be touching on Bipolar Disorder in this article, I just didn’t want those of you suffering with it to feel left out!
It is almost impossible to discuss depression without anxiety. According to the Mayo Clinic: “Anxiety may occur as a symptom of clinical (major) depression. It’s also common to have depression that’s triggered by an anxiety disorder, such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder or separation anxiety disorder. Many people have a diagnosis of both an anxiety disorder and clinical depression.” Often times when we hear a diagnosis it can be scary. I am one of the fortunate ones that found a medication/self help/therapy program that works to keep me healthy. Other people aren’t so lucky. It can take years to get diagnosed and several more to find the proper medication to balance out our brains. There are a lot of misconceptions about Depression & Anxiety. You can have one without the other or you could have both. You could have mild depression but severe anxiety or vice versa. It just depends on your brain’s chemical balance (or imbalance). A neurotypical person’s (somebody without mental illness) brain looks different than a neurodivergent person’s (having a brain that functions in ways that diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of “normal.”) brain scan. Here is your friendly reminder that “normal” doesn’t exist and typical vs. divergent looks different for everyone.
Some folks with depression are high functioning. (Like me!) They have a job, go to school, have hobbies, attend social events (pre-covid) and are often times referred to as the happiest people in the room. However, for people with depression acting “normal” can be exhausting. Lower functioning people with depression can often times been misconstrued as aloof, loners, rude, lazy, etc. The next time you find yourself making assumptions about a loved one, remember that everybody is fighting a battle that you know nothing about.
Whether you are high or low functioning, day-to-day tasks can become difficult. Especially because, as stated previously, there are both better and worse days. Some days you can’t get out of bed and others are business as usual. Often times the hardest part for a person with depression can be self care. We have talked about self care and self love before on Weekly Wellness, but it is so important to remember. Not everybody has the energy or time to complete self care tasks. With depression fogging your brain, this becomes even more difficult to manage.
How do we cope?
There are several ways that I have found to help me, personally. I am not a doctor and these may not work for everyone. If you suspect you have depression or anxiety call your doctor. If you ever have thoughts of harming yourself or others call 911 immediately. My email (firstname.lastname@example.org) is always open for discussion but I am not a crisis center. Keep resources on hand. That’s what they’re there for. My favorite personal coping mechanism is the 5 minute rule we discussed in my Cleaning article. Essentially, if a task feels too big to handle start it and work on it for 5 minutes. If the task is still overwhelming and you can’t complete it, don’t. You don’t have to. Anything worth doing is worth doing half-assed. I know that is a hard pill to swallow for some, and I’m still working on it myself some days. Brushing your teeth for a minute is better than none when two minutes feels dreadful. When a shower is too draining (pun intended) it is acceptable to rest in the tub, or wash up with a wash cloth and soap. Do not feel like a failure for this. Doing something half-assed is better than not taking care of yourself at all.
Take your meds though. Those can’t be half-assed.
TW: I will be touching on self harm.
There are different kinds of self harm. It isn’t always cuts & bruises. I am not going to get too far into this but I did want to touch on some lesser-known activities that we often don’t realize are contributing to harming ourselves. One of these is not taking medication. Whether it be prescribed or OTC, if you are in pain or sick and choose not to take medicine because you “are fine” or “can suffer through” this could be a form of self harm. I’m not saying this is true for every case, but I’m just recommending really taking the time to think why you don’t want to partake in something that can make you less miserable. If you feel you don’t “deserve” your medicine, this is most definitely harmful. Always use your best judgement when it comes to your body. I don’t even know how my own works let alone yours! This applies to food as well. If you feel you’ve eaten too much already, and don’t “deserve” to have more, even though your body is giving you hunger cues, please take some time to reflect and ask yourself why you feel this way.
Take care of yourself, you deserve it. Every single day, you are worthy and important.
Thanks for reading Friends!
Check out my other articles HERE
This week’s resources:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Veronica – Weekly Wellness