You truly are lovely, and I got so much support from so many of you here and on Instagram in the past weeks. As I mentioned in my last post, my depression and anxiety hit me hard these past weeks, and I felt very low and unmotivated. I am now feeling much better, I readily smile and I feel hopeful. However, I thought it could be a good idea to talk some more about depression, so this post will be a little bit about what depression is, and how I personally think you should deal with it as someone who suffers or who is close to those who suffer.
Now we all have ups and downs in life that will make us feel sad at times, and I'm not saying it isn't hard to be sad but depression is different in that it persists for two weeks or more, or is recurrent. For me personally I feel like depression isn't so much sadness as it is an "emptiness". Emptiness and despair takes hold of you and it doesn't seem to want to let go. This in turn makes you unmotivated, and makes it hard to enjoy life and function through daily tasks. Just getting through the day can be totally overwhelming. But - Good news, it can get better! No matter how hopeless you feel it can always get better!
Some symptoms of depression are:
- Persistent sadness, emptiness or low mood
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Feelings of worthlessness and/or guilt
- Irritability and/or anger
- Lost interest or pleasure in daily activities or hobbies
- Decreased energy, fatigue, tiredness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Aches and pains that cannot be explained by other illnesses
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death and/or suicide
These are not all the symptoms, but the most common ones. And one person may not experience all of these symptoms, a person with depression can have some or many of these symptoms.
If you do have any of these symptoms please contact your doctor or another health care provider. Most importantly if you have the last symptom - please seek help immediately. There is help out there and you can feel better, the pain can go away with therapy and medicine. Please trust me on this one.
Now on to things that is very important to know about depression.
First of all, depression is a real illness. It is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw. It is in fact partly due to chemical imbalances in the brain, and biological under-activation/over-activation of areas of the brain. You most certainly cannot "snap out of" clinical depression. And most people who suffer from depression will need treatment to get better.
Depression affects people in different ways. And the treatments will also work differently for different people. The people suffering will need different kinds of support and help. So it is very important to ask the people experiencing depression what kind of help they want/need. Number one tip I have for you who want to help a person suffering from depression is to let them know that you are there for them. And it can be as easy as flat out saying "I am here for you if/when you need me". Let the depressed person know that you are willing to talk and listen. Remember to listen. It is sometimes more important than talking!
For me personally I very much like it when someone tells me they're thinking of me. I don't like people to tell me it will pass. I know it will, but when I am in that low place it doesn't feel like it will pass, and everything is dreary and dark. Someone telling me it will pass or to cheer up, makes me feel worse, because it makes me feel as if this illness is my fault, and then I feel more guilty than I already do. Instead let the people know that you understand that they are going through a hard time, but that you are there for them.
Another thing that I appreciate very much is people being with me. Spending time with me, even if we're not interacting directly. It could be that we're watching a film together. Or just sitting in the same room. Write to me, or talk to me about anything between heaven and earth. This sort of confirms to me that you really are there for me.
And for the people suffering themselves - try to fill up as much time as you can with the people you love. Do the things you normally would like to do (even if it at this time does not seem interesting or fun). Try to fill your life with people and things you love. Try to sleep and eat well (as best you can, it's a tricky one, I know). Sleep when you're tired (which can be all the day... so be it). And let it take its course. Be kind to yourself.
Accept that this is an illness just like any other and that you are sick. For me that fact did a lot in allowing myself to feel bad without the guilt. Reach out to someone! Whether it is a friend or family, or a health care provider. Talk to people. Let people know you are not feeling your best. And allow yourself to feel sad, empty, frustrated and more. Cry if you need to, usually it releases something tense within, so it can feel like a relief. Don't be ashamed of your feelings. Feel what you feel, and try to never lose hope (which in itself is close to impossible with depression, I know...).
I was much better equipped at dealing with my bout of depression this time than the last time I felt it. I was open about it, on Instagram and with my family, which made things easier for me. And because I had dealt with it before I knew that I could get better. I am now actually feeling loads better. I have days when I feel low, empty and tired, but all in all it is getting better. It is with a smile that I write this, and I want to show you how happy I look. And yes, I've cut a fringe :)
Today and everyday, take care of yourself and one another.