I’ve never personally suffered from depression, but my sister suffered from it for years and still today struggles with anger, frustration and lack of self-belief in anything she does. I chose to write this article to get a better understanding of this mental health issue, I guess you could call it, and to help those who have never experienced it first- or secondhand to begin to understand what it’s like and hopefully help someone some day in the future. I have also focused on the words of those who have suffered or are suffering from depression, rather than present my interpretations of their experiences.
I genuinely hope that after reading this and the other articles mentioned you will understand what it’s like to have depression, and also understand not only how difficult it is to live with, but to overcome as well.
What is it actually like to live with depression?
Here’s a list of descriptions or symptoms from those I know who have suffered from depression, from those currently suffering from it and some from my own research. A number of these quotes were taken from a Huffington Post article by Danny Baker, see the full article and more quotes here:
1. Concentration is difficult. It’s hard to focus, remember or make decisions.
2. Change in sleep – either too much or not enough.
3. Don’t want to nor enjoy eating. A complete loss of appetite.
4. A feeling like you can’t do anything right.
5. Can’t see a future ahead and there are no solutions to any problems you have.
6. You just don’t enjoy life – it’s an effort to smile.
7. Don’t feel like you exist properly in the world. Have a feeling of separation.
8. Constantly feeling like you’re drowning.
9. Can sometimes feel like your mind is replaced by another that makes you feel numb and worthless.
10. A loss of who you are.
11. It drains all the energy from you … you feel like you can’t do anything.
12. Nothing feels, tastes or smells right.
13. Feeling and believing that you just don’t matter.
14. Loss of desire to live your life.
15. Combination of negative emotions: fear, despair, shame, numbness, worthlessness and sometimes guilt.
16. It’s like having tunnel vision. You can only see the bad, overwhelmed with negativity with no reason why.
17. “Cancer of the soul.”
18. Living in a constant fog-like state.
19. The feeling of being completely alone while surrounded by people.
20. Sleep feels like your only escape.
21. Feeling like your mind is paralyzed – numb.
22. It’s like silence – isolation in a room full of people you know.
23. Like being trapped in darkness.
24. Depression can sometimes be a voice in your head that can talk, shout, taunt and chant negative words and phrases at you, trying to convince you that you’re not good enough.
25. Like having everything that was ever good in your life stripped from you.
26. “Depression is a thief – it takes everything and leaves you to die.”
27. Feeling separated from yourself, like watching yourself from the outside.
28. Depression is genuine self-hate with no reason why.
29. Feeling like every morning you’d wished you’d died in your sleep.
30. Like treading water with no energy – a constant battle to keep afloat.
How can depression be treated or overcome?
It goes without saying that living with depression is extremely hard, but overcoming it is even more difficult. There are countless forms of drugs that can be prescribed to someone suffering from depression; even those with anxiety disorders are given forms of antidepressants. Medication is sometimes a way forward for some individuals, but many prefer to first try natural remedies. These have proven to work wonders for people and are without a doubt worth trying. Check out this article written by someone who has overcome depression using natural remedies.
Here are just a few natural remedies to give you an idea of what is available, but obviously, make any treatment decisions in consultation with a medical professional:
Depression can make it hard to do anything. Days, weeks and months can roll into one another. Establishing a routine, no matter how small, can help get you back on track and build up your days again.
2. Goal setting
Being able to accomplish or even imagine accomplishing something is extremely difficult, but in order to have self-belief again you need to be able to see your progress. Start off small – and I mean small! Something like sitting down for a few minutes in your garden with a cup of tea, reading a page or two of a book, or even just setting a goal to wash the dishes twice a week.
3. Eat right
There’s a saying, “When you eat good, you feel good,” and trust me it’s 100% true. While eating a specific diet won’t fix depression completely, it can have a huge impact and is a good place to start. Treat your body right, give it the right foods and it will reward you. Again, focus on making small changes; don’t try too much too soon. Take it one step at a time.
It’s often been said that exercise is one of the best free antidepressants out there! Exercise releases endorphins (those feel-good chemicals). A 20-minute walk can have an incredible effect on brain activity and can help change the perspective you have on yourself and what’s around you. It may not be something you want to do, but it is definitely something you need to do. Force yourself to give it a try – make sure it’s something you like doing though!
Getting into a routine, exercising and eating right should naturally help your quality of sleep. Try waking up and going to sleep at the same time so your body gets used to the time it’s meant to sleep. Avoid using electronics at night, like your phone, tablet, computer or TV. Try to only associate your bed with sleeping and make it a relaxing place for you to go each night.
6. Get enough vitamin D
By that I don’t mean take supplements, I mean the sun. Due to our lifestyles we don’t spend half as much time outside as we should. Simply being outdoors can help boost your overall mood. So try it! Go outside, relax, take a deep breath and just appreciate the outdoors.
7. Try to find something you enjoy
I understand that this would require a lot of energy that you may feel you don’t have and you may feel as if there isn’t anything that you’d enjoy, but you just have to keep trying.
8. Try meditation
This practice can work wonders. It will help reduce your stress levels and help stop negative thinking. It’ll change your mind and in turn change your life.
9. Avoid alcohol
Unfortunately, this is a road many take to cope with depression. The problem is that alcohol is a depressant and it will, in time, cause more long-term harm than good. Try to avoid this as much as you can, if not completely!
10. Ask for help
There is no shame in asking for help in any situation. There are many people who have experienced and are currently experiencing depression that are out there to help. There are plenty of outlets you can turn to: family, friends, doctors, help lines, support groups, the list goes on.
The step that you need to take before any of these is making that decision to help yourself. It may look and feel like an impossibility, but trust me when I say you’re strong enough to beat it and you don’t have to do it alone.