28 Parts of Depression That Often Get Missed

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Like any invisible illness, there’s more to depression than meets the eye. This week — Depression Awareness Week — people are speaking up about the unseeable using the hashtag #WhatYouDontSee, a campaign launched by the Blurt Foundation.

Join the conversation by taking to Twitter, and check out a few powerful responses below. It’s about time we started talking about the “invisible.”

Here’s what people have said so far:

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To learn more about the #WhatYouDontSee campaign, head here.

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The Best (and Worst) Parts of Going on Work Leave for Depression

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Editor’s note: This post has a mention of self-harm. If you struggle with self-harm, you can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

“You’re unfit for work. I’m signing you off for four weeks. I’m doubling your medication. I’ll see you in four weeks.”

I looked at the doctor as though he’d literally shat in his hands and told me he was making a pie. I told him four weeks was way too long, I have so many responsibilities and you know, I’ve coped this far, I’ll be alright.

No dice. His word was final.

Now, I know many people would revel in knowing they’ve just been given a get-out-of-work free card for four weeks, but I actually fell into a state of panic.

Two weeks in, and lying in bed, I’m ready to share what it’s like being a workaholic blocked out of her work emails, mixed with a double dosage of anti-depressants. Because my concentration is limited, I’m going to share with you in bullet point format the best and worst things about my last two weeks:

1. Being brutally honest with people is hilarious.

Now, I work for a mental health charity (ironic, I know) so of course my work understands where I am and what I’m going through, but other humans I need to come into contact with have no idea. I’ve stopped telling people I have a flu akin to ebola when explaining why I can’t play or human today. I’ve been brutally honest. And it’s hilarious.

To my drama teacher for example, who told me if I didn’t go to a make-up class for the class I missed I wouldn’t be able to continue the course. I responded, in a text message: “Hi David, I lied, I didn’t have the shits. I actually have chronic depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and an increase in my medication meant I couldn’t walk in a straight line last week. I also couldn’t bring myself to shower, and I didn’t want to upset you all with my drunk, dirty and disorderly behavior. I also tried to learn the script for the lesson, but every time I got to the third line I forgot what I was doing and fell asleep for three hours. So, it wouldn’t have been productive for me turning up. But I’m getting better, I’ve been awake for at least 10 hours today, so I hope you will let me continue with the course, because I like acting a lot. It helps me be other people who don’t have chronic depression and I like that. Thanks.”

His reply was simple, “Bless you. Please stay with us. I will wait to hear when you’re better. David.”

I’m  unsure if his “please stay with us” meant in the class or in life, but I’ll do my best to do both, David, thanks.

2. I forgot how many days were in a year and had to Google it.

I then went on with my business (learning the same three lines of script and sleeping) and forgot again, so had to bookmark the tab for the rest of the day. Writing this now, I still think it’s 352. I don’t know why the Prozac is preventing this knowledge sticking in my brain, but it is. Sorry, world.

3. I’ve lost all coordination when crossing roads.

Like, they don’t write this on the “side effects” bit of the patient information booklet, but it’s a serious side effect for me. I stand at the side of the road, looked left and right, and instruct my legs it is safe to walk. But nothing computes. And I don’t walk. I panic, I stumble, I try to walk but there’s cars so I jump around a bit, turn back and go home. It means I don’t go out much at the moment without another human to push me along.

4. When I do manage to cross roads, I can’t human in supermarkets.

I went to Tesco yesterday for milk. I’ve also just come on my period which was a lovely surprise to add to the ailments of life right now. So I needed lady supplies. I managed to not get hit by a car, but I also couldn’t take my eyes off the ground as walking was hard to fathom and I was worried I was going to trip. I went into Tesco, and went to self-service with the following items:

  • A reduced pack of chicken
  • One avocado
  • One large pack of mango
  • Fabric softener
  • Yogurt
  • One pack of Crumpets (despite being “buy one get one free)
  • One pack of pads
  • One apple

I had no need for any of the above.

I had my own bag. I didn’t tell the self-service, so I had to pile everything up in a mountain on the bagging area and support the avalanching items with one arm whilst I paid with the other before packing into my own bag.

Now, I have a pack of pads when I needed tampons.

I have a pack of crumpets, which my boyfriend has been eating just to justify my purchase but secretly I know he doesn’t really like them.

And I have fabric softener with no washing powder.

I’m a life failure.

5. The more you try and convince your boss you are fit for work, the less you appear fit for work.

6. I have horrible urges I can’t shake.

I’m not going to act on them, but I have an overwhelming urge to stab myself in the stomach. Something is telling me I need to do it. I know it’s just the imbalance of serotonin right now, but I lay in bed until 3 a.m. this morning reading stories of people who have done it and what happens to try and tell that voice in my mind that it’s the worst idea ever.

7. Buying self-help books in public is a huge mistake.

I went to a store to pick up some books to try and improve my attention span and ensure I was still able to read. So I thought I’d look in the self-help section too, to see if any books can help me through this period of ill health. I ended up buying a book called “Reasons To Stay Alive” (which I would recommend to anyone, it’s great) and a few others, like “Everything You Need You Have” and “At Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept.” Now, looking back, it probably wasn’t the most optimistic combination of books to set upon the cashier’s desk, but I expected people won’t judge you on your purchases. I was mistaken. The gentleman behind the shelf launched into what I can only describe as a make-shift therapy session, and led me around the shop for another half an hour recommending more books that will make me “not want to die.”

8. Losing a sock you just had on can instigate breakdowns.

My feet go from being really hot and uncomfortable to being super freezing. So I put socks on and take socks off at least nine times a day. So, casualties will occur. However last night I just took my socks off, to realize I was too cold and went to put them back on again. And I could only find one. That was it. That was the end. I broke down. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t remember how many days were in a year. I hadn’t eaten a real meal in two weeks. I had the worst panic attack I’ve had in ages. Over a sock. My boyfriend had to take me to bed to calm down. Then he pretended to be a turtle for a while and things got better.

So, it’s Friday. Two weeks since I’ve increased my medication, and it’s been really hard. But I’ve learnt some valuable lessons.

Socks should have those strings on them like children’s mittens have to stop you from losing them.

I shouldn’t make snap decisions while I’m on Prozac.

Always say you’ve brought your own bag with you.

You know you’ve got a keeper when your boyfriend eats crumpets to make you feel like a worthwhile human, and turtles around to calm your panic attack.

Tomorrow, I’m hosting a party. Something I don’t even like to really do when normal. However, lots of people have RSVP’d, food has been paid for and maybe being around humans will help. But I’m concerned at how this will go. If I at least make it there with all the roads I think I will have done OK.

Follow this journey on Life on Laura Lane

The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story of your choice in regards to disability, disease or illness. It can be lighthearted and funny or more serious — whatever inspires you. Be sure to include at least one intro paragraph for your list. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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When Depression Returns to Your Thoughts Uninvited

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Dear Depression,

Here you are again. Uninvited. Unwelcome. And, it seems, unavoidable.

I knew you were coming back to see me. I felt it in my eyes, as I watched the brightness twinkle away. I felt it in my shoulders, as I started to droop and slouch. I felt it in my steps, as my feet became weighted. Depression, I knew.

I found you in my thoughts, telling me what I can’t do and asking me what if. Whispering not good enough and focusing my attention on what could have been better, smarter, cleaner, prettier. I found you in my words. I heard myself saying always, never, nobody, everybody, should, enough, can’t. And worst of all, I found you in my feelings. I found your pit of sadness in my stomach. I felt your fingers of anxiety creep over me like frost on a window. You threw your heavy wet blanket over my heart and tried to suffocate my joy. Depression, you tried.

I’ll be honest. You scare me. When I think you, speak you, feel you, I am scared. A prickly cold sense of panic washes over me and I think oh my God, no. Not again. I can’t do this again. The thought of getting sick almost takes my legs out from under me. Almost makes me feel helpless. Almost.

But helpless is a lie you tell me. Hopeless is a road you lead me down. And this time I won’t go.

I know you’re here but I won’t go there. Depression, can we make a shift? Choose a different path? This time I’ll talk back. I’ll answer your nobody ever with somebody does, your not good enough with doing my best. I will fight to stay in the present moment when I start to ruminate on the what ifs. It’s so hard to change but I’ll try to tell myself I did, I can, I will. I will speak your name out loud, depression. Because that takes away your power and makes me less alone.

Because the truth is, depression, I’ve done this before and I can do it again. I will take a deep breath and accept my fear for what it is. I’ve seen you at your worst and it was dark and black and terrifying. I am scared of getting sick and I am stronger now than I was then. I’ll hold on tight to both of those truths – you can’t snatch my hope away. It’s mine. I earned it.

Depression, you may come and go, but I won’t ever stop. I won’t ever stop trying and fighting and hoping. My will is strong and my spirit is alive. So let’s go. Let’s walk together if we must. But this time you won’t drag me behind you, choking me in your dust. This time we will walk side by side. Uncommon friends on an uncharted path. It’s just you and me, depression.

Will you take my hand?

Follow this journey on Blue Light Blue.

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The Moment I Finally Broke Down After Silently Drowning in Depression

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The first time I truly realized I was depressed was shortly after my first son was born.  He came into our world, my partner had gone out for the night and I was left home alone with him, still sore from the delivery but able to move around on my own. I was in my pajamas, it was about 8 p.m., and I had just gotten my son to sleep after trying for over an hour. I was sitting in the lazy boy chair bawling my eyes out when I heard a knock on the door. I froze, afraid that if I moved someone would know I was in there, and that would mean interacting with someone. I held in my sobs, held my breath and prayed they would leave. I had been sitting there crying, an ache of loneliness in my heart, a feeling like I couldn’t breathe and yet when help arrived with that knock on the door, I couldn’t bring myself to answer it. I chalked it up to the baby blues, the lack of sleep and the change in hormones. I had already had about 10 years covering up my feelings to the outside world, so no one once asked me if I was really doing OK.

I spent the next eight years pasting a smile on my face when people asked how I was, raised my kids to the best of my abilities and absolutely falling apart once they had gone to bed each night. I constantly felt like I was drowning. I would sit in my car and have to talk myself into not driving into a tree. I carried my passport in my purse at all times and there were many times when the kids were at their dad’s that I stopped myself halfway to the airport. I constantly thought of what my kid’s lives would look like if I wasn’t in them, and more than once had convinced myself they would be better off without me. When I reflect on those times, on those last eight years, many have blurred into the other, and there are birthdays and Christmases that I don’t remember the slightest detail. There are missed baseball games, early bedtimes, temper tantrums and crying fits because of how I felt. There were days I couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed and let the kids watch TV all day. There were nights when I would sit at home and drink two bottles of wine, just to forget how I felt. There were missed interactions with other parents because I constantly felt like a failure. Years of feeling like a failure as a parent took a toll on my relationships and I managed to burn through friends and family. I was 30 years old and all I could remember thinking about myself was that I was a disappointment to everyone around me. I hated myself. I couldn’t even be happy for the people around me, I hated watching people get married, hated how happy new moms looked and constantly looked for something negative that I could relate to.

About six months before I turned 30, my hate for myself increased and so did the sadness inside of me. I spent 20 minutes in the shower each morning, sobbing uncontrollably, not knowing why or how to fix things. I dreamt up scenarios in which I ran away, leaving notes for my children that they would get when they were older, hoping they would understand they were better off without me.

My one shining star came in terms of a doctor’s appointment I had, for a full physical, one that I couldn’t miss as I hadn’t been in so long. My doctor walked into the room, sat down and asked me how I was. What I had rehearsed in my head was something along the lines of “Everything is good. I feel great, I should exercise more, and kids are good.” Instead what came out of my mouth was a sob, and then another and another with only two words — “not good.” Reflecting back on this moment, I’m not sure why the breakdown happened with my doctor. Perhaps I just couldn’t hold it anymore; perhaps I just needed someone to ask me how I really was. After a long talk I was prescribed a counseling session and a very low dose of anti-depressants.

It was a long road to recovery, one that hasn’t ended and is truly only beginning, even as I write this, years later. It took about eight weeks for the medication to kick in and it was a gradual change, it wasn’t as if I woke up one day and started feeling happy. I started crying in the shower less, I started being more patient with the kids and one day I realized I hadn’t thought about abandoning my kids in weeks. What that medication didn’t do though was deal with all the rest of the issues I had facing me. Even though I no longer felt as sad or angry, I still didn’t love myself, I still didn’t like where I was in my life. I also knew I didn’t want to be on medication for the rest of my life, I wanted to change my life naturally. The anti-depressants saved my life, I will give them that.

I am not sure where I would have been had I not had that doctor’s appointment that day. I am not sure I would have been here to tell this story. But I also was aware I had been unhappy for over 15 years and that one pill wasn’t the cure. I started making changes in my life, which became easier as I felt more confident than I had in years. One of the changes I made was letting go of people’s judgment of me. I spent years wondering what people thought, living my life according to societal norms, letting others decide my path for me. When I wake up in the mornings now I want to get out of bed. I smile as I look at the gorgeous sunrises, I laugh as I chase my kids around the house and it fills me with joy to know that this life is truly an incredible gift, and I can only be thankful that I am finally present to live it.

Editor’s note: This piece is based on one person’s experience and shouldn’t be taken as medical advice.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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When Guilt and Depression Go Hand-in-Hand

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I live a pretty “typical” young adult lifestyle. I go to a four-year university where I have always done well and made dean’s list. I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back and I have two internships and a job. I will go out to bars and parties and I have many friends. I come across as being responsible and having it all together — and that is exactly how I like to appear. Service is my passion and I’m always finding ways to make my schedule busier than it already is.

What many people don’t realize is I have firsthand experience with the demons of depression and the awful things it tells you to do in your head. I know what it feels like to not want to get out of bed in the morning and to wish you hadn’t woken up in the first place. I know what it feels like to resort to self-harm. Depression is hard because for some it is so easy to look normal. It is so easy to memorize the same rap to tell everyone when they ask how you are doing. You become a master of excuses and lies and deceit becomes your middle name.

The sadness and hopelessness one feels with depression is often paralyzing. It makes you second guess who you are and what potential you have in this world. It makes you feel as though you are simply taking up space, and breathing the air others deserve to breathe more than yourself. You feel like you’re dragging around your body from place to place, constantly having an outer body experience. All of these feelings are generally associated with depression. Most of them you learn in psych classes or maybe from an article you read online about someone willing to share their experience. But what isn’t talked about is the feeling that tags along with all of the other ones. The feeling that I think is the most devastating of them all: guilt.

I do not go a single day without feeling guilty about my depression. While I’m currently doing well in recovery, I still reflect on the terrible things I did when my depression was at it’s worst and make myself feel terrible for ever thinking or doing what I did. I have a beautiful and privileged life, where I am able to go to school and live in a beautiful apartment with my friends who love me. I am able to go home to my family who also loves me and feel safe there. I live in the nation’s capital which is full of endless possibilities and I can pursue any career that I desire. I am so lucky. But when I spent my nights sleepless and didn’t have the energy to make it to class I looked like just another lazy college student. When I had no appetite and would waste the food in my refrigerator I seemed ungrateful for the sustenance I had the privilege to have. And when I felt sad and cried for no reason when other people had more obvious triggers to sadness like a death or immense stress I looked weak and unappreciative of the good hand that I had been dealt.

What many people don’t understand is that depression has nothing to do with how grateful a person is. I realized all of the beautiful things I had when I was depressed. But honestly, this made me feel worse. Why did I feel the way I did when I had everything that I had? How could I not feel like living anymore when someone out there would do anything to be where I am? I felt guilty for feeling sad, and for everything that I did as a result of being depressed. I damaged my academic career by not going to class and I couldn’t hold my job that someone had helped me get in the first place. Worst of all, I saw how much I hurt and confused my friends and family. While they tried to help me and I refused it, I felt guilty and this only pushed me further into my depression.

There is a stigma that people who are depressed are egocentric and thankless, and people who hurt themselves or attempt to take their own life are even more selfish and ungrateful. But I am here, as someone who has experienced all of these things to tell you that many people who are depressed are not thankless, they see the good in their life and the blessings that they have. Guilt can stop people from accepting help from others so it is not personal if someone declines your offer to help them. People who hurt themselves and try to take their own life are not selfish. They know how much their actions hurt other people. They are simply too paralyzed by the sadness to do anything about the guilt that they are overflowing with.

It was not the sadness that ate me alive when I was depressed. It was the guilt. The guilt that I was wasting a perfectly beautiful life being trapped in my own head. It took me a very long time to move forward from my sadness. I now wake up in the morning and can put my feet on the floor, even if I am feeling sad. I learned how to keep moving forward and not get caught up in the small stressors and details of my life. I learned how to let go of things that were out of my control and find the small imperfections in life beautiful as they are what make us human. I will deal with depression for my whole life, but my hope is that by tackling the stigma of depression and suicide, others out there can feel less guilty about what they are going through. If someone you know is fighting depression, remind them that you love them and that they are not a burden to you. If you reading this are battling depression, keep fighting, be gentle with yourself and remember that where you may feel broken is where the light can shine through.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

This post originally appeared on The Odyssey.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: What’s one secret about you or your loved one’s disability and/or disease that no one talks about? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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Man Reveals His 'Double Life' With Depression in Moving Facebook Video

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If you’ve ever had to “come out” to family or friends about having depression, you know the experience can be nerve-wracking. You might feel uneasy about their potential reaction — Will they get it? Will they think it’s just an excuse? Will I regret telling them?

Well, Doug Leddin from Ireland opened up about his depression in one of the most public ways you can —  in a intimate Facebook video that has already been shared more than 11,000 times.

“It’s not often I post something too serious on social media and I’m not sure this is the right thing to do and to be honest I’m nervous as hell writing this status,” he wrote. “But I hope it helps others and I hope you can share this if you think it will help someone.”

He said he’s wanted to get this off his chest for 10 years.

In the video, he talks about how depression has forced him to live a “double life.”

“The life that my family, my friends, my colleagues, my teammates see. But then there’s the life that I see and that I live and that I feel…I’m living a different life inside. I’m living the life of someone who suffers immensely with depression,” he says in the video.

He said what’s scarier than the darkness is the fear that others won’t understand. He hopes his video will encourage others to open up without fear.

Watch the whole moving video below:

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