Which isn’t so funny, now is it?
Then why do we act as if it’s a “feeling.” Something that, over time, will pass. Like a silly joke, a summer rain, or a 4 minute Ed Sheeran song.
Why is it awkward to talk about a bout of depression but not about a broken bone? Why do we herald stories of those overcoming addiction, but quickly walk past who are depressed? Nothing to see here… because:
“It’s all in your head.”
“You’re just going through a rough patch.”
“You’re just feeling sorry for yourself.”
Here’s my theory. Depression isn’t tangible. You can’t remove it in the same way you can remove an infected kidney. You can’t put a brace around the affected area in hopes it’ll heal. You can’t throw it away like an empty vodka bottle. (Not to discount or undermine any of these things. They’re huge deals and major issues that need addressing and awareness, as well.)
Depression is there. It lives. Deep, deep within your soul.
And because you can’t see it. Because it lives in your mind and permeates itself throughout your entire body, but doesn’t show up on a cat scan, it’s a figment of your imagination, right?
Not so much. If you’ve ever battled depression, you know what I’m talking about. That feeling of, “What’s the point?” “Why does any of this matter?” The days you can’t get out of bed. The nights you spend sobbing into your pillow, unable to control the tears that flow. The lists you create of all the things you’re grateful for, while there’s a gaping hole within your heart.
These are the moments I’m talking about. The moments that get chalked up to “low moments”
and “this too shall pass.”
But for some people, they’re not just moments, it’s every day life. Waking up, getting dressed, finding purpose, and meaning, and keeping your head up. It’s hard when you feel trapped within yourself. When you feel defeated by being you. You don’t want to die, but you surely don’t want to face the days ahead.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 25 million Americans suffer from depression each year.
That’s a heck of a lot of people. And it means it’s time to get serious.
I can say “Go for a run!” until I’m blue in the face. But that’s not going to get you or me or your roommate or your brother or your aunt or anyone else who faces depression out of bed.
So what are we going to do to raise awareness? What are we going to do to end this epidemic?
We’re going to talk about it. Depression is a sticky, icky subject that’s clouded by the stigma that makes it uncomfortable to address. So we don’t.
Let’s start talking about it.
Now, let’s be clear. I’m not talking about a bout of sadness. We all get down and have low moments. We all experience periods in our lives where we’re not as bright-eyed and bushy -tailed as we’d like to be. That’s normal. That’s emotion.
What Is Depression, anyway?
I’m talking about sadness on a whole other level. A level of deep low that interferes with daily life. A dark rut that typically has these symptoms (from the National Institute of Mental Health):
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
- Restlessness, irritability
- Persistent physical symptoms
We need to talk about this and we need to talk about it often. If you or someone you know may be suffering from depression, here’s a place to start: Help for Mental Illnesses.
How can we begin the conversation?
Start on a personal level. Are you depressed? Do you know someone who is depressed? Begin with you and them and then extend the conversation out. Be patient with yourself and others. Raise awareness on social media. Get active in your community. Be open and accepting if depression comes up in conversation. If we all take little steps it will go a long, long way.
We can’t shuffle it under the rug anymore.
In order to raise awareness, spread goodness, and keep the conversation going, you have to begin with yourself. You may not be facing depression, which is great, but are you feeling low?
Taking the Reins of Your Life
Here’s something crazy that happened to me recently. I was feeling low (that’s not the crazy part. Keep reading). Bogged down by a lot of work, days that started too early and ended too late, and a plethora of time-consuming and energy draining events to go to, I was feeling wiped out.
I wasn’t going to have another low week, I told myself as I headed into last Monday.
So I took the reins. I started my day with an intention: I will be positive no matter what.
It wasn’t easy at first, but I noticed as the time ticked on throughout the week, I was feeling more and more uplifted. And when not so great things happened, I changed my outlook, shifting from negative to positive, and the not so great things weren’t as big of issues as I’d thought. I also noticed that others were far more receptive and willing to be in my life, to engage in conversation, and to shine their goodness into my every day.
It was amazing.
And now’s the perfect time for you to try it. Because it doesn’t have to be a Sunday night, a beginning of a month, or a brand new year to take control of your life.
So for you, this week, start your day with an intention. Something positive and good and make that your goal. It will work. I promise.