“Life isn’t fun anymore.”
Hidden depression is one of the most dangerous things you’ll ever face in this life. My heart still breaks when I remember the depths of Mom’s depression. As a teen, I had no concept of what bipolar illness meant when they first diagnosed her.
What I remember are the days upon end where she could barely raise her head, much less get out of bed.
If you experience that level of depression, you need to get help. This isn’t a game and the outcomes can be deadly if you consistently ignore the symptoms until it is so overpowering you can’t function.
Recognizing depression is the beginning of a resolution.
I am no stranger to depression. As a child, I hid my feelings by escaping into books. It was the only thing I could think to do that occupied my mind enough to keep me from thinking.
As a young mother, I ached for the things I could no longer do for my sons after I was disabled both physically and mentally in a car accident. I wanted to hold them in my arms like I did before the accident. My heart ached when I couldn’t get down on the floor and play with them.
Today patients have to fill out a form when they go to the doctor. It asks questions about depression and harmful thoughts. Nothing like that existed back in the seventies. I lived alone with my pain and suffering. Depression wasn’t on anyone’s radar and yet I had thoughts of suicide more than once.
The National Mental Health Association tells us one in eight women will experience depression during their lifetimes. I’d be willing to bet it’s more like one in four. Women are masters at covering up the symptoms of depression, even though they’ve lost all hope of life ever returning to normal.
Watch for these symptoms:
- Loss of Interest in things that used to bring joy
- Suicidal thoughts or fixation with death
- Exhibiting signs of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Unhappy expression the majority of the time
- Sleep Disorders – sleeping more or less than usual
- Loss of Appetite or just the opposite, eating constantly with a high carb intake
- Fatigue – nearly constant
- Loss of Weight
- Comments that food is tasteless
- Seasonal affective disorder – Especially in women
The thing about depression is that everything in your life changes. When you begin seeing these symptoms in someone you love more than life, it can break your heart.
Life isn’t simply ‘not fun.’ All the color goes out of life when you suffer from depression. You can’t get excited about anything. It’s impossible to care whether you wake up in the morning because it’s simply going to create another unbearable day.
Faith and Depression
Mother raised me in the church. It’s funny how when the depression becomes overpowering that you forget all about your faith and religion. It suddenly seems like it was all simply a con job to get you to be compliant with the rules in life.
The truth of the matter is much more simplistic. God needs to bring you to your knees sometimes before you’re ready to listen to him. That’s how it was with me after the car wreck. I screamed at my God in anguish when no one else was around. I challenged him for allowing this to happen to me, preventing me from caring for my children. That’s exactly how I felt when denied a mother to care for me when I needed it most.
When I lost all hope, I finally saw the light. God waited for me to acknowledge his presence all along. He never intended for me to have to fight the disability alone. The truth of my failure was my inability to let him in my heart with an intention that his “will be done,” not mine.
Don’t hide your depression. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Even hormones can cause depression after childbirth or during menopause. Drop the stigma attached to depression and demand the help you deserve. This isn’t a long-term curse.
Men may exhibit additional symptoms
Most of the time we discuss depression in terms of women. “Oh, she’s just having her monthly funk.” “Shh, I think Molly is going through Menopause.”
The truth of the matter is that men struggle with hormones and depression the same as women do. They may exhibit symptoms that typically aren’t associated with women:
- Feeling agitated
- Symptoms of an inflated ego
- Throwing blame at others for their shortcomings
- Fear of admitting they feel depressed to anyone
- Constant conflict with others
- Use alcohol, sex, sports to try to feel better about themselves
- Blaming or shaming others
How Do You Respond to Depression?
There are many things you can do to reduce the vice grip of depression.
- Exercise – Begin a new exercise program and stick with it
- Don’t allow yourself to become isolated from others
- Relax. Try using some relaxation tapes
- Ask your doctor to start you on low doses of antidepressants if they’re necessary
- Talk to someone you trust about your feelings
- Avoid the foods you crave and try eating wholesome fruits and vegetables
- Engage in social activities with friends or family at least once each week
- Grab a handful of cashews
- Volunteer for a favorite local charity at least once each week
- Begin a new hobby like watercolor painting
- Take a class at the local college
- Renew your attendance at your house of worship
- Start an outdoor activity: Gardening, hiking, etc.
- Keep a Gratitude Journal – Write down at least one thing you’re grateful for each and every day
There is no golden bullet to resolve depression. It can be totally disabling if you allow it to get that bad. Instead, do yourself and those who love you a favor. Get yourself diagnosed and seek out whatever help is necessary to help you get back to the life you’ve left behind.
The Abyss of Depression – Learn more about my personal struggle with depression
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and have lost all hope in life, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.