When There's No Easy Way to Describe Your Depression

This blog post has been floating around in my head for the past couple of weeks. The topic is something so many of my friends have heard me lament about: the stages of depression — or lack thereof.

Think of the word “rain.” It can be described as a drizzle, a mist, a hard rain, a deluge, a flood; it can be teeming or a downpour or a storm. Each of those terms allows the speaker to more precisely convey the precipitation rather than using the generic “rain.” And even though one man’s “downpour” may be another’s “deluge,” both would probably agree they are in the same ballpark.

Now, think about how many people use the word “depression” or “depressed” to describe so many varying degrees of mental state or illness. I know before 2014, I and many of my friends and loved ones had never heard or thought much about the differences in depression and how using such a generic term can sometimes confuse people. Polite conversation rarely mentions major depressive disorder, dysthymia, seasonal affective disorder, psychotic depression, or bipolar depression (to name a few). Each of these illnesses can present in different ways, and there are varying symptoms and severities of each.

I have had so many well-intentioned people trying to be helpful by telling me how they, or friends or loved ones, were able to “fix” their depression and insisting their methods could cure me. Others have been visibly irritated or disbelieving when my recent depressive episode continued (I would like to consider it past tense) longer than they expected — based on prior experience. I wish there was a way to explain and get the word out there that depression is often not just depression. There are sometimes small nuances or often major differences between each person’s experience. And medically, there are different types of depression. No one should assume they know what someone else is going through. Depression is not fun — I think I have stated several times it sucks, and I believe there are very few people, if any, who would choose to fight this battle for any amount of time. If someone you encounter is dealing with any type of depression, please remember this. Thanks!

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