It’s not being in a ‘funk’. It’s not just being ‘moody’. It’s depression and it is real! According to the Centers for Disease Control - One out 10 Americans report suffering from some degree of depression. I am one of them. I have dealt with depression, in some degree or another, on and off for the last 30 years.
For those who have never had to personally deal with major depression or have never known someone who suffered from it, let me tell you what it is like from the inside.
Each episode can begin from the most innocuous event, something someone says, something as simple as a bill in the mail or nothing at all. It begins this downward spiral that from the inside becomes uncontrollable. You can’t help but want to cry and when the tears just won’t come anymore, you feel numb. You can feel fear, angry, rejected, worthless, confused.
You will sometimes loose the filter that controls your attitude towards others. You snap at your boss, coworkers, and even your family. You say things that cut like a knife into the people you love and that love you. No one seems immune.
You count and measure your failures rather than being able to see the successes, which hold no value to you.
You want to disappear.
The more joy there is around you, the more the sadness closes in. The more celebration there is, the more the pain pulls you away. The more there is light, the more you want to retreat into the darkness. This is a darkness that can be so intense that no light can penetrate. A darkness so massive, no horizon can be seen. It envelops you and weighs you down.
Time seems distorted, moving at the speed of sound and standing still all at once.
The descent into depression can be a tide that washes slowly over you. It can come on you as though ten tons of granite has been dropped on your head. You do your best not to let those around you know, not wanting to expose yourself, not wanting people to see you in your weakness. Overtime, hiding in plain sight becomes too much work and you begin to retreat even faster into your shell.
Some get very good at hiding the pain. Some wear it on them as though wearing a heavy overcoat that is ten times too big.
When you descend so deep into depression, the rational, intelligent portion of you brain is locked out. The irrational seems normal and the only way to control your pain. I will add here that it is a true physical pain that can do all sorts of damage to the body. People use drugs, alcohol, cutting, anorexia/bulimia, just to name a few, to try to have some semblance of control in a life that seems totally out of control. When those don’t work in a life that seems not to work, ending the pain seems like the only way to stop it all.
I’ve had people tell me to “Cheer up. Things will get better.” These are the kind of people that have never had to deal with or experienced deep clinical depression. I just want to slap them for being so naïve.
I’ve had others tell me to “Focus on the positive, no matter how small.” REALLY?! For us in depression, we rationalize that the positives don’t matter; only the negatives are factored in. Focusing on the small stuff just does not out weigh the monumental negatives that over shadow everything.
I, unfortunately, have not been immune to reaching the point of doing something stupid. There have been times in my life that I just wanted God to crack the sky and take me home. I am not proud of that fact and I do not flaunt it out there for the pity. It's just a fact of my life and something I battle with and only win with God's help.
What has brought me back from the edge you may ask? Two simple things ~ my daughter and my son. Two gifts from God!
There have been times when I approach the edge of that irrational place of no return and it is the thought of my kids that has pulled me back. I just can’t leave them. They need me and more importantly – I need them. They are and will always be my life.
Though there are certain groups more prone to depression, no ethnicity, religion, age, or gender is immune.
If you need help, there is no shame in asking for it. There is no shame in saying I am too weak to go through this alone. I've done it and it is a lesson I am still learning.
If you do need someone to talk to, call one of the National hotlines available 24hrs a day/ 7 days a week:
Kristen Brooks Hope Center @ 1-800-784-2433 or
the National Suicide Prevention Hotline @ 1-800-274-TALK