Anyone with internet access can look up what depression is on WebMD, but it is impossible to understand it and understand why people with depression do the things they do… until you are diagnosed with it and experience it yourself.
Flashback to less than a year ago, when I decided to reach out for help due to constant stress and just unhappiness with everything in my life, only to find out I actually had depression. I had, of course, known depression was a mental illness and it seemed really awful to have. I knew people who dealt with it and any time they needed me, I would, of course, be there and offer any kind of support I could. However, I never understood what they were actually going through until I had to fight this awful illness myself.
Here are just a few things that are impossible to understand about depression until you are diagnosed with it.
1. The simplest of tasks are draining.
Just getting out of bed in the morning takes all of the will you have. Talking to your co-workers about their weekend and just being around people makes you want to go home, curl into a ball and sit there just contemplating your existence. Getting up to take a shower and brush your teeth can seem so overwhelming, and taking care of yourself should never be hard to do, but it is when depression takes away any desire you have to live.
2. What being tired actually means.
Sure, everyone gets tired once in a while, but being tired from depression is something different. Being tired from depression is waking up after a four-hour nap, then going to bed for 12 hours of sleep. Being tired from depression is feeling like your body can barely hold you up anymore because it is just so physically exhausted from doing next to nothing. Being tired from depression is having no energy to do anything. Being tired from depression is sometimes staying in bed all day because you are just so emotionally, physically and mentally exhausted — all of that weight holds you down in bed and makes you feel unable to move.
3. Why going out and being social seems like a much worse idea than staying home and doing nothing.
There are some people who just prefer to be alone and don’t necessarily get joy out of being social. But sometimes, when you have depression, nothing you used to enjoy is enjoyable anymore. It could be something as simple as not singing along to every song on the radio when that used to be something you’d always do and enjoy.
4. Why you neglect to take basic care of yourself because you don’t have it in you.
Taking care of yourself can be as simple as showering and brushing your teeth every day, but depression is just your brain constantly telling you that you don’t matter and nobody likes you anyway, so what’s the point in taking care of yourself?
5. What it feels like to have no motivation.
There are times when we don’t feel like doing anything — that is a normal part of being human — but when depression comes into your life, you literally feel as though there is no point in anything anymore, when nobody is going to live forever. Motivation is something you just never can seem to find anymore.
6. What it’s like to not be able to concentrate on anything.
It’s sitting on the couch and watching Netflix and being distracted by the 20 million thoughts running through your head at one time. It’s trying to have a conversation with someone for more than 2 minutes without having to ask what they said. It’s trying to read a book but then end up putting it away after reading one page because you cannot stop thinking about all of the stuff you have to do tomorrow.
Sure, people experience these things when they are not diagnosed with depression, but depression makes them so much worse than they actually are. Depression is an illness so many people live with, but nobody will understand what that’s like until they have to live with it themselves.