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!

Image via Thinkstock.

Follow this journey on Yet Another Hot Mess.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Depression

What Kid Cudi Showed Us About Being a Black Man With Depression

I’m going to be honest: I live with chronic depression and generalized anxiety disorder, and I’ve tried ending my life quite a few times. And yes, I’m a man, and a person of color. But you see even admitting that reality can mentally take a toll on me.   To live within this blackness, to [...]
woman with a semi colon tattoo

How the Semicolon Reminds Us It's OK Not to Be OK

A semicolon is a pause in a sentence, not the end of one. And even through those pauses we are still growing. Sometimes it’s OK to not be OK, and to remember we are all broken. We should never feel like we can’t take care of the pain that’s felt in our hearts and in [...]
Girl watching the stars.

What I Wish You Understood About My Mental Illnesses

I am not a well person. While I’ve had endometriosis since I was 16, and I’ve had asthma since forever, my long-term more “serious” chronic health issues are far more recent. They were created by a bout of unfortunate illnesses: glandular fever, meningitis, and then, finally, encephalitis. Due to chronic fatigue, I am often always tired, no matter how much [...]
young woman is looking forward

5 Ways to Help a Loved One With Depression (Besides Saying 'I'm Sorry')

“Oh, I’m sorry, hun.” “I’m sorry to hear you’re going through that.” I’m tired. I’m tired of the words, “I’m sorry.” At this point, if you could just come up with another way of phrasing that, I’d appreciate it. I’m not looking for you to feel sorry for me. When I tell you about my [...]