As someone who has had depression for as long as I can remember, here are six things that I have learnt about depression:
To be depressed doesn’t automatically mean you’re suicidal. It took me an awfully long time to accept and realise this. I thought, even though my behaviour may have been destructive and erratic because I wasn’t suicidal that I wasn’t depressed.
It never really goes away. This was a shock to me. The first few serious relapses were hard to cope with, now I know the signs and it’s easier. But, depression for a lot of people never fully goes away, only the severity tends to change. But, that doesn’t make things hopeless! It’s easier to compare to something physical like asthma or diabetes, its there and you have to monitor it but it doesn’t stop you living life most of the time.
People have their own problems too. With depression, it’s very easy to get consumed in your own thoughts and feelings that it’s so easy to forget that other people have their own things going on. Hard to accept, hard to remember but vital. It’s not a reflection of you, peoples actions aren’t always the direct influence of you.
It simultaneously takes away all feelings while making you really emotional. This is something that I’ve only noticed recently, I can’t control any of my emotions while at the same time feeling completely numb. Weird.
Not everyone will understand. As someone who’s been in and out of hospital for the past 6 years, the people I surround myself with tend to know my ins and outs pretty well and they’re all pretty good at dealing with my mental illness – so it’s always a surprise when someone new comes into your life and they have absolutely no clue what to do. Don’t write them off, education and patience on your part are key too.
It’s OK to give yourself some time off once in a while. Be aware that your expectations of yourself need to account for periods of not wellness. It doesn’t stop you from achieving anything – just allow yourself some time off if you need to and don’t chastise yourself for it.