Feeling Depressed is Different Than Having Depression
When I was a freshman in college, during a bout of severe depression I wrote in my journal, “In all reality, it's no big deal, what is a big deal is my crazy reaction and emotional response. I mean, GROW UP KRISTANCE!! Cry a river, build a bridge, and get over it. Right? On the other hand, it bothers me — but it's STUPID to bother me. I think I'm choosing for it to bother me…”
I blamed myself for feeling sad. I spent hours upon hours in the library doing nothing but convinced that I could will myself to study or to finish that paper.
No matter how much I denied it, it was obvious that I was depressed.
I hated it. I hated me. My loneliness didn’t seem fair. I was sitting in a beautiful library, at an incredible college, surrounded by life, academia, and success.
Mental health is complicated. While stressful situations can exaggerate or even bring on mental illness, life circumstances do not determine whether or not someone will have a mental health issue like depression. Depression is one of the leading causes of disability in the world, at any given time an estimated 300 million people are living with depression.
When depression is at the helm, inspiration seems to evaporate. It can feel like being in a dark cave from which there is no escape. I can hear people outside the cave yelling at me to emerge from my den. A desire to leave the cave does arise from time to time, but finding the exit is too arduous a task.
I know it can be confusing when someone you care about is improving and then suddenly appear to be in the depths of depression again.
They can be going to therapy, taking the right medication, and doing all the "right" things and then wake up one day and struggle to get out of bed. It is not easy to watch a loved one go through it. I don't blame them for not knowing what to say. I don’t blame them for always asking the same question, “Why are you depressed?”
No matter how good I start to feel, the melancholy of my depression always comes back. Without rhyme or reason, it returns to me. The self-loathing and the feeling of not wanting to be in my body. It always comes back. Guilt for feeling happy, that comes back. I begin to again feel embarrassed and ashamed of myself and my words and my actions. My motivation is drained from my body and. The tools I've learned in therapy and twelve-step programs become inaccessible. The only thing I can do is stare, and if I'm lucky or not too far gone, I can write about it. I also ask, “Why am I depressed?”
Published here 24 May 2018
Originally published on Ravishly 3 May 2018
By Kristance Harlow