When Depression Is Like Feeling Homesick at Home
Depression is not simply a matter of feeling unhappy. With depression, one cannot just simply think happy thoughts and have a more positive attitude. In fact, there is nothing simple about depression.
The best way to describe how depression feels (at least for me) is to compare it to feeling homesick… while you are already at home. It starts off with feeling unhappy or irritated or just downright tired. So you try to find the problem. Why do you feel this way? You can’t think of anything that has happened to make you feel so horrible. This creates even more frustration. There must be a reason why you feel so unhappy! And you need to figure it out soon, because it’s starting to have an effect on your life.
You haven’t felt happy in a long time. People think you don’t care about them and wonder why. But you don’t even have the energy to respond to them. You can’t enjoy your own successes, let alone theirs. Then, something wonderful happens to you, and you know you should be thrilled. But all you can feel is this plain feeling of “Eh.” You try to watch your favorite TV shows, eat your favorite foods and listen to your favorite music. But you don’t enjoy any of it. In desperation and frustration, the tears begin to flow.
This is what I struggle with: A mood disorder. Not just a bad mood that can be fixed with a fake smile, but an actual disorder that makes it so I can’t feel better no matter how wonderful life is. Without the right medication and healthy lifestyle, I don’t feel happy. I might feel fine. I will usually feel hopeless, sad, frustrated and/or tired.
So what can others do to help me? Remind me to check in with my doctor if my symptoms don’t improve soon, or if they get worse. Remind me that, no matter what, you are there for me. Also, remind me that you understand if I can’t be enjoying your company, and that this period of depression will pass. I don’t mind when you try to cheer me up, but don’t always expect it to work. I think one of the worst parts of depression is knowing that it affects others around me, too. I always worry that people will think I don’t care about them, when really I just can’t care about anything, even though I want to care about things.
Depression is complicated. But I think the biggest thing people can do to help me is to remind me I’m not alone. With the right professional help, my depression will pass.
This article is dedicated to all of my friends and family who have provided that support when I needed it, and continue to do so.
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