Depression isn’t just of one kind. It has multiple dark and ugly facets to it, and it strikes sneakily, sometimes even without the victim knowing. While some can recognise it and seek help, some suffer depression even without knowing they are depressed. A normally sunny person, cheerful with co-workers, well-liked by friends, with a hobby or two might have depression. They are dependable, talented and get things done. They don’t look depressed, their life seems sorted. Even so, they don’t understand why they experience so much mental fatigue, that feeling of discontentment. They brush it off because they can’t accept that they can have an illness which might need help. In an effort to get over it, they function well. This depression might be rooted in abuse or trauma suffered, they know what happened was bad but the impact isn’t realised, those feelings are stowed away deep.
So they put in more effort, to make everything look perfect. As Kevin Breel puts it in Ted Talks, depression isn’t sadness. Depression is being sad when everything is going right. People don’t come out with it because they’re afraid of the embarrassment, the stigma attached to it, they’re afraid of being labelled as ‘weak’ and that prevents them from getting help. These illustrations are an attempt at trying to show how depression affects a person. Please note, that these are in no way all encompassing.
You hide the struggle behind a cheerful, normal demeanour in front of people.
Some put in effort everyday to hide the darkness behind smiles, to keep up appearances and be at places, to function well, to avoid admitting to themselves and others that anything is amiss.
Depression leaves you physically and mentally drained.
The constant struggle with depression leaves people feeling tired all the time. Depressed people often have a hard time getting out of bed to deal with life. Emotional fatigue accompanies physical fatigue. A depressed person might still feel tired after an entire night’s sleep.
Everyday is a constant struggle with inner demons trying to drag you down.
Depression leaves people doubting their self-worth and their entire existence. The constant struggle with negative thoughts and feelings sometimes makes people take extreme steps.
There’s often loss of interest or passion in things which once made you happy.
Depression often leads to a loss of interest or passion in things which might have earlier been enjoyable or exciting for the person. They gradually withdraw from rewarding hobbies and feel numb. Evidence suggests that depressed minds are unable to sustain feelings of pleasure for a long time.
It’s important for loved ones to be understanding about depression, which would otherwise push those who need help into their shell.
There is still not enough talk about depression. Ignorance about depression is the biggest handicap to overcoming the illness. When a depressed person tries to admit that they’re suffering to someone close and it is trivialised, they withdraw further into the darkness, convinced that they will never be understood and continue to suffer.
You often feel hopeless and abandoned.
Suffering through depression alone is taxing and makes the person feel like it will never go away. Often lack of help and understanding may make the person feel abandoned.
You might experience anxiety and mental conflict.
Though depression and anxiety disorders are different, depressed people may experience some symptoms similar to anxiety disorders. Constant dwelling on ‘what if’ scenarios, delusional beliefs, irrational worries and fears plague the mind incessantly, leading to frustration.
Unless help is given to depressed people, depression is a vicious cycle.
The illness is exhausting, the darkness keeps your mind disturbed and affects coherent judgement which leaves the person unable to relax. Without help, people sink deeper into the mire of depression and take drastic steps for relief.
Even simple things begin to feel like huge tasks.
Some types of depression leave people exhausted and unable to perform even simple tasks like getting out of bed, getting ready or going out. Motivation is gone and depression severely affects the brain’s dopamine levels which is partly responsible for motivation in life.
You might want to isolate yourself from other people.
Often, depression leads to disinterest in socialising and in today’s world, if you’re not interesting enough, people aren’t going to stick around. Lack of company and isolation leads people free to dwell on negative thoughts.
Depression is not a weakness, it’s a sickness. Please remember there is always light after darkness. Reach out, seek help, talk about your problem to your loved ones, your therapist, whoever can support you through this. Get help because it’s the only way to defeat this.
Design Credit: Puneet Gaur