An Explanation of Depression
The phrase ‘Depression’ get’s thrown around so much these days. 20 years ago, if somebody was depressed it was the result of a proper diagnosis, from a medical professional.
But for the last 5 years, it seems everybody and their auntie is ‘depressed’.
The word is thrown around like it is nothing. You lost your job, I guess you are depressed. You couldn't attend your 1D concert or some other bullshit, I guess you are depressed. You fell over and grazed your knee, I guess you must be depressed.
I don’t think people truly understand what depression is, and if they do, then too many damn people are using it in the wrong context. This article aims to enlighten and educate those interested or ignorant parties, that wish to understand this illness.
To begin with, Depression is a mental illness. The fact people say it so carelessly, is practically an insult to people who actually suffer bitterly from the condition. To break it down into layman’s terms, Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. You don’t have enough ‘happy juice’ in your brain, so you feel sad. This ‘Happy juice’ I mentioned, are the chemicals present in a healthy brains blood, known as Dopamine, Norepinephrene and Serotonin.
These are not the only chemicals that are needed to make people happy, but they are the key elements. Depressed people, have a severe lack of these chemicals, and Anti-depressants are just little pills containing these lacking chemical compounds.
Major depression is a disease that impacts approximately 5% of people globally. That is roughly 350,000,000 people in the world today. In the grand scheme of things, that makes Depression one of the most common and fast growing mental illnesses today.
I am one of those afflicted.
I have suffered from major depression for 4 years. I went into a medical clinic, was properly diagnosed through multiple tests and screenings, and now with medical declaration, I have discovered I am far from normal. I am mentally ill.
Am I angry that some people say they are depressed, without medical proof? No. Some people are depressed, they show all the signs of depression, but are terrified to talk to a medical professional, or physically can’t bring themselves to do it. No, I am angry at the countless individuals that preach they are depressed, with no obvious understanding, who use it in everyday conversation like it’s a perfectly normal thing to be, who just clearly have no idea what it is and how it affects people, but act like they are a goddamn connoisseur of the matter.
Depression just eats away at you relentlessly. Everything you love: hobbies, friends, foods, TV shows, movies, video games, they all drift away and become meaningless. You progressively become a husk, and you just seem to hate yourself more and more. Your view of yourself becomes so warped, you believe it, and begin to destroy yourself.
Anyone who reaches out to help you, you push away. You push everything away because you feel nobody can help you. And you don’t want anyone to be hurt by your condition, as it makes you feel worse and worse, feeding fuel into the fire that is your self-hatred. But you know that your family, the people who were once your friends, your wife, husband, boyfriend or girlfriend, they are all devastated at what has happened to you. And they become distraught, or angry or just so utterly confused as they just can’t fix you. And if they can’t help, they give-up and just leave. Never out of cruelty. But purely because they can’t cope. And in the end, you don’t have to be their problem.
You push everyone away but deep down you so desperately need someone to stay. Someone to just hear your cries and who just understands. But nobody can see it like you do, or understand. And you just end up drifting alone.
You go to a doctors, and they suddenly explain you are not right. You have a problem, you are a problem, you have issues, you are told to your face you are ill, you have already known this for so long, yet the hurt from this news is still present. You are told what you already know, and have someone try and explain how you already feel. You are fed information you can gather just by looking in the mirror. And it feels so pointless.
You are prescribed medicine to help you. To make you ‘healthy’. In actuality, you feel worse, as everyday you wake up, pop a pill or a huge combination of them, just to function like a ‘normal’ human being. You spend the day knowing you are not actually happy, that your behaviour and feelings are merely the result of a concoction. This is a temporary fix.
The ‘happy’ feelings you have are a façade, merely a mask to wear when you are out in public so society can feel better about having you there. Like decorating a dead tree with blossom and rose petals. Because as long as you have a painted smile through broken teeth, at least the world can be happy. But not you.
So when you soon realise the pills are not a permanent fix, you are assigned to (UK only) well-being sessions. Where you are sat in a room, drugged up to your eyes in Anti-D’s, and you explain how you feel. To a normal healthy human being. Who gained their understanding of your condition through a course, with no real understanding. And as soon as the ‘expert’ on the opposite side of the room gains understanding that you are a ‘tad under the weather’, you are (if you are very lucky) given a recommendation to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
This offer is made after a few weeks or months of this well-being session. “You are not alone” and “You can get better”. It doesn't matter if you are in a crowd or floating in deep space, nothing can take away the loneliness.
Eventually you are told exactly what you needed to hear, you are given the chance to see someone who could truly help you. This is represented by being put on a list, waiting for this Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Waiting MONTHS for your turn with a psychiatrist. In this time, many give up waiting and cancel their appointment. Many kill themselves. Many cut themselves. Many crush themselves to dust, fuse the dust to glass, and then smash themselves to pieces again.
But imagine if you did stay on that list and waited months and months for that therapy.
You wake up. When normal people awaken, they sometimes wake from a nightmare glad to see the light of day and a fresh start. Depressed people awaken from their only haven, although normally restless, to see they have woke up to their nightmare. You struggle to even drag yourself out of bed. Tiredness, misery, hopelessness, an aching body and an aching mind drag you back into bed as you try to move. You eventually get out of bed, and pop the pills that make you societies little sunbeam. You throw on clothes and look in the mirror. You could in reality, look good or bad. But in your eyes, you’re just a worthless congealed pile of flesh and a waste of space. In truth, a lot of the time you can’t even recognise yourself. Minutes can pass with you just staring at yourself in the mirror, wondering where everything went. Where you went.
You drag yourself to your Kitchen, and you might eat. Many depressed people lose great amounts of weight purely because, as with every aspect of your life, hunger and the desire to eat dissipates entirely. You pack your bag and head out to, in my case, 6th form studies.
You lumber to the bus, with a face that reads “I've given up”. You spend your waking moments, thinking about killing yourself. Dark thoughts cloud your mind. And you just want to curl up and die. Not because you want to die. But because there is no other escape. It feels like the only way out.
Nobody can help you. Months of waiting and searching and thinking and longing lead to you being back at square one. You don’t even know what to think anymore. What are your thoughts? Is everything you think and feel coming from you, or the pills? You can’t tell so you just refuse to feel anything at all. Building more stress and more pain and bottling up more self-destruction that will soon explode. And it makes you emotioanlly numb. So in the far future, if you ever do recover, it doesn’t make a difference. Because over the time you were depressed, your emotions became completely nullified. You can’t feel anything anymore anyway. Even if you wanted too. Not even sadness. Just utter nothingness.
And while all this self-hatred occurs, you also feel guilty. That you are upsetting everyone else. That by hating yourself, you are making other people mad at you. You have no reason to be so selfish and cruel, thinking about yourself all the time. You need to stop being so self-centred. Depressed people having this train of thoughts may sound far-fetched. But those thoughts have lead to countless suicides. You fell that you are a burden, a cruel mistake on this Earth. That ruins everyone else’s lives. So you just take your own. Ease everyone else’s pain. When in reality, it tears them apart.
So you arrive at your school, college, e.t.c. And so begins the façade. The pills help with the lie. Because you just mill through the crowds of people in corridors and on staircases. And you look blank as a sheet. But as soon as someone acknowledges your melancholy nature, you flash a quick painted smile and a wave, ending their concerns. Obviously, a close friend could tell that all was not well. But they all disappeared years ago when this illness started. You just live a lie now. Of course it tears you apart, but it is better than reaching out and catching thin air. Because nobody can understand you.
So then you work through lessons, time just no longer having any meaning or context. Anything that brings the day closer to the end is a comfort. Including studies. You eat lunch alone, work alone, travel home alone, and when you reach your home you just continue hating and loathing yourself, attempt to possibly reach out to someone on Facebook or Skype, but most depressed people deleted those long ago. Because nobody cares. It’s not their problem, so they just don’t care.
And you get into bed, and think about everything you ever did wrong. A meaningless argument you had with a parent 3 years ago just tortures you. You don’t even know why such memories enter your head. You realise you are a pointless mistake. And that in the end, you have no friends or carers. And you could never love or be loved by any other human. And that you will die alone.
Now, everything I have explained so far is truly accurate. It has been an experience. My experience. For the last 4 years. And this is just an abbreviated summary of one day. Imagine going through this every day, and they are expected to go through this for the rest of their lives? Or wait on some blasted list that never seems to treat you in time?
One of the worst parts, is knowing you have a fantastic life. You may have a loving family, a supportive partner, great friends and a roof over your head. But in your eyes, you can’t appreciate any of it. And the Depression causes you to feel even more guilt, as you can’t appreciate how good you've got it.
In the end, depression is a serious and horrible condition. And it destroy’s people. It destroys hope. And it leeches from the source into other people’s lives, purely because they can’t help, and they know you are suffering.
So next time you are about to say the word ‘depressed’ in regards to an everyday occurrence. Think twice. Because so many people, are truly suffering from this horiffic illness.