What makes depression so scary is not the sadness

We have all been sad. Everyone gets sad sometimes. Things happen that can cause massive sadness. The death of a loved one. Losing a job. Heartbreak. A fight with someone you care about. Your career not going as well as you want it to. There are many reasons people experience sadness and they do it all the time. It’s part of being alive.

But here’s the thing that is so different about depression: Not only can it come out of nowhere, without a reason or forewarning, it also comes with another unique quality that is not present in normal, “justified” sadness and makes it so much worse, most likely the worst emotional state you can find yourself in.

The ugliest symptom of depression is hopelessness. Knowing that there is no future for you. That there is absolutely nothing to live for. No hope that it will ever get better and nothing to look forward to.

I’d deal with all the sadness if I could just have a tiny bit of hope for a future. But being in this dark place whilst also knowing that there is nothing to look forward to is what makes this disease so deadly.

And I know it must be hard to understand for anyone who hasn’t personally experienced it, because if I try to imagine it at times when I am not depressed, I myself have a hard time with to do so. How can there be no hope? There’s always hope! There’s always some future. Something will happen for sure. Of course! Life goes on. It always does. But you see, those are exactly the thoughts I cannot form when I am in that dark place.

“What would you rather have, a broken leg or your occassional sadness?”

That’s what my last ex said to me. Well, first of all, let me say that I think illnesses or problems can never be compared to one another, it is absolutely pointless and doesn’t help anyone, but it did get me thinking.

What do problems, as bad as they might seem at any given moment, usually have in common? Well, in most cases, there’s still hope! Sometimes more, sometimes less, sure, but hope nonetheless. Hope that it will get better someday. Hope for a future where this issue doesn’t exist anymore. Hope that the healing hands of time will do their magic. Hope!

But that’s exactly what is missing at the times when I am feeling so low. So what is there to hold onto that could drag one through this?

And then there is something else. Usually, when you’re sad about something there are always other things you’re still happy about that keep your spirits up. You may be sad about losing your job but you’re still excited about the person you just met at the gym or seeing your friends on the weekend. You may be heartbroken but you can still laugh at a funny movie or get excited about a job opportunity.

But when you’re almost bedridden because you got smacked so hard in the head with depression, there really is no other thing in life you could be happy or excited about. You don’t have one problem or problems you are sad about, there is only sadness. And for some strange reason, you are absolutely convinced that this will never ever change and you will be forever stuck in this hopeless place.

And that is, in my opinion, what makes depression so horrifying. Hope is what gets us through hard times, it is what keeps us going. It is the reason why people endure tremendous hardships. And it is the one thing you are missing at the time when you would need it the most.