I posted to my friends a little earlier today on Facebook something like this: ‘Feeling very sad today, for no particular reason. Breathing is such an effort.” When I’m like that, it is the hardest for me to write anything. That’s usually when I most need to.
I don’t usually write about depression when I’m depressed, but I’ve learned that I need to take some kind of action, and for me that action often involves writing. About anything. Maybe for the very reason that it is hard for me to write when I’m depressed.
Chances are, many of you deal with depression on some level. We’re not talking about the times of sadness we all go through. We’re especially not talking about the entirely appropriate reactions we all have to sad circumstances–grief, losses, stress, etc. Rather, we’re talking about the kind of depression seems to come for no reason, and when it relents, relents for no reason either.
And I’m trying to do a little something about it. Read on.
I seem to deal with a lot of different challenges that are annoying, but don’t rise to the level of “major.” I have arthritis, for instance, that occasionally flares up enough to keep me from being able to take care of things on a given day, but doesn’t last. I have sleep apnea, severe enough to need a CPAP, but not nearly as severe as that of some of my friends, for whom it can truly be life-threatening. (Mine is probably merely life-shortening without treatment.)
My depression is the same: not as severe as most people with truly clinical depression, and it doesn’t last as long. I am thankful for that. On the other hand, when it comes to visit, it sidelines me. It’s severe enough that a therapist recommended medication, but I’ve yet to find medication that makes any difference (or, if it does make a difference, that doesn’t cause side effects I find even more depressing). Neither has counseling ever helped.
For whatever it’s worth, here’s what the Mayo Clinic says about major depression:
For clinical depression, you must have five or more of the following symptoms over a two-week period, most of the day, nearly every day. At least one of the symptoms must be either a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Depressed mood, such as feeling sad, empty or tearful (in children and teens, depressed mood can appear as constant irritability)
- Significantly reduced interest or feeling no pleasure in all or most activities
- Significant weight loss when not dieting, weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite (in children, failure to gain weight as expected)
- Insomnia or increased desire to sleep
- Either restlessness or slowed behavior that can be observed by others
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt
- Trouble making decisions, or trouble thinking or concentrating
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or a suicide attempt
Your symptoms must be severe enough to cause noticeable problems in relationships with others or in day-to-day activities, such as work, school or social activities. Symptoms may be based on your own feelings or on the observations of someone else.
I have many of those from time to time, but almost never for two weeks or more, although I have a couple of them all the time (but unless you have five or more, it’s not clinical depression).
I’m betting there are a lot of people who fall into that same range–not meeting the definition for clinically depressed, but experiencing the symptoms more commonly than we “should” (whatever that means). Are you one of us?
One of the counters for depression is to take action. Almost any kind will do. I have taken an action that should not lead to even more responsibility (I have a tendency to take on too many obligations–does that sound familiar too?), but I hope will make a difference to many people.
I started a Facebook group.
If you fit the description of this post, consider joining the group. It’s just a place to post your own story, and get support from like-minded people. I am fortunate that my friends and family understand. Many people don’t get that–instead, others tell them, “Just buck up! Everybody feels sad sometimes.” Or, “You’re just having a bad day. You’ll get over it.” Or, “I feel sad sometimes too, but I don’t let it stop me.”
It’s a closed group to protect members against such responses, so you’ll need to ask to join. But you can request that from the link to the group.
Let me know what you think.