Depression, just the sound of the word itself is miserable isn’t it? But what is real depression like? I don’t mean that feeling when things aren’t going too well and you feel low generally, I mean real, full on depression, the kind that saps the very soul from you.
I’ve heard it likened to a black dog, not a good analogy for me, I have a beautiful large black dog who gives me so much joy and love that I could never associate her with something as hideous as depression, although it might work for some? To me it’s not a black dog, it’s an infinite black abyss that gradually sucks you down until the final vortex pulls you into an endless feeling of hopelessness.
And once it’s caught you in it’s web, what then? It traps you, it eats away at you, it drains you of any feelings of hope or future and leaves you unable to perform the simplest of tasks. It deprives you of any ability to think of the future or find anything that may sustain your ability to survive temporarily whilst you battle with the demons and struggle to understand why you feel so desperate.
And did I mention the anxiety? The heart wrenching, gut churning anxiety? The sensation of a million ants eating away at your brain, burrowing ever deeper until all you’re aware of is the nauseating reality that you no longer have a functioning brain that can manage even the simplest of decisions. Coffee or tea?…….I have no idea…….
All emotion is snatched away apart from the intense feelings of guilt for feeling so inadequate and lost and having no power to ‘snap out of it’. Research has shown that the only illness that can negate the overwhelming instinct of motherhood is depression, women suffering from long term debilitating depression can neglect their children or even end up leaving them altogether.
Recent research has also shown that many more men than women are likely to take their own lives, possibly because they are less likely to seek help or find talking therapies helpful. An article I spotted today highlights the case of a man who ‘slipped through the cracks’ in the mental health system and has taken his own life. He had a long history of depression and was on the waiting list to see a psychiatrist, he’d been waiting 2 months and had 2 more to wait but obviously reached the point where he couldn’t see a future and took the devastating decision to end it all. The story is here:-
And the answer? Medication can help enormously and IS NOT a sign of weakness as many seem to believe. Therapies can be extremely helpful but supplied so sparsely that accessing help can mean a wait of many months, sadly too long for some, and ‘being there’ for a friend suffering from depression can mean the world. Like the advert says…..that text, that phone call, the non-judgemental support that just lets them know you are there for them whenever they are well enough to return.
Depression is an illness, it’s not a state of mind. Please try to remember that the next time someone shows the above signs and just be there for them.