A man with fog over his head. Text reads: 22 'red flags' that might mean you're slipping back into depression

22 'Red Flags' That Might Mean You're Slipping Back Into Depression

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While depression can sometimes surprise us, like a sudden fog rolling in seemingly out of nowhere, for those who are familiar with their personal early warning signs, it’s possible to see the first signs of mist creeping it. And it’s important to know these signs. If you see it coming, it’s easier to stop it, before the fog gets too thick and blocks your eyes.

Although everyone’s personal “red flags” are different, we wanted to how other people recognized their depression was coming back. So we asked our mental health community to share one “red flag” that let them know they were slipping back into depression. Maybe you’ll see yourself in some of these answers.

Here’s what they shared with us:

1. “For me, I start getting mad and irritated at literally everything. I don’t allow myself to accept the feeling of sadness or depression and so it comes off as anger. So if I’m angry for no reason and at everything for more than a day or two, I know I need to step back and refocus and take charge.” — Abbey A.

2. “I start to feel lonely. I’m lost for words even around those closest to me.” — Marty C.

3. “Wow, there are a lot of signs. I sleep a lot. I feel constantly drained of energy. I don’t eat as much as I used to. I go through mood swings and I become more withdrawn and won’t let people near me.” — Mizheekay H.

4. “When the bad thoughts come back. I start thinking more about how much easier it would be if I was no longer around, and it’s like my head automatically starts to create plans of suicide, even if I don’t go through with them.” — Megan E.

5. “Constantly feeling anxious and on the verge of crying for no discernible reason, fatigue, heavy limbs and a weird pressure in my chest. My depression goes hand in hand with my anxiety, so it;s always a hot mess when something goes awry.” — Vanessa A.

6. “Dirty dishes that sit until they smell. Usually I am a do-the-dishes-every-day type. The worse my depression, the longer I go between doing the dishes. When my depression is bad I just don’t even see the dishes.” — Martha W.

7. “I get irritated a lot easier, snap at the silliest of things. I’ll sleep as much as I can and I won’t ever leave my bedroom… Responsibilities go out the window and things just don’t get done, which in turn triggers my anxiety and then I feel guilt ridden and cycle repeats.” — Jasmine S.

8. “For me, I start taking less and less care of myself. I start talking less to people I talk all the time with. I eat less and less food. Getting up in the morning also gets a lot harder. Those are some red flags that indicate another depressive episode.” — Mike V.

9. “When I start to question my purpose in life and I am not sure I know the answer anymore. When it would be easier to stay in bed and avoid socializing because ‘they don’t need you anyway.’ And most of all, when I don’t feel good enough, worthy or feel a sense of happiness anymore.” — Lauren S.

10. “I sleep. All the time. If I’m not sleeping I’m lying awake in bed nearly catatonic for hours at a time. I shower and wash my hair less often, which is a big deal for me since I hate the feeling of not being clean. I just feel numb. I can’t cry, can’t feel anything but bleakness and confusion, anxiety and agitation. I forget things a lot and slur my speech… move more slowly… can’t concentrate on anything…” — Heather W.

11. “My bed is a lot harder to get out of in the morning, and it becomes easier to ignore doing everyday tasks. I like to keep a clean house, but my depression makes me procrastinate, to the point that I get overwhelmed. My hygiene routine often starts to take a hit, as well.” — Courtney W.

12.For me, it manifests as pain. My body just aches, as if I have the flu. All the muscles start to tense and I can’t loosen them. Like a Charlie horse (cramp) but in my whole body. Depression will make me want to sleep, pain will keep me awake.” — Tanya C.

13. “My number one sign is the lack of focus and productivity at work. If I spend half the day trying to get to work, I know I’m in for a good bout. The related symptom is that I feel so low on energy that it seems like I haven’t eaten at all, which is never the case. Usually that’s the point when my entire body begins shutting down and it takes every bit of energy I have just take a single step.” — Allen M.

14. “For me, there were a lot. I stared sleeping less. I stopped singing and I stopped exercising. I stopped taking care of myself and it was hard getting up in the morning. I quickly lost interest in things like schooling, reading, writing and drawing. All of my thoughts came back and I always felt tired and saddened. I started thinking of how I’m useless and worthless.” — Chris M.

15. “Usually when it comes back the first thing I notice is that I am not feeling ‘it.’ I’m just not feeling the whole staying alive part if you know what I mean. You just feel off. As days pass you start to be sad for no reason, you cry for no reason, then a little task becomes too much to handle. That’s when you know it’s coming back.” — Devon B.

 

16. “I have no energy or motivation to do anything; don’t want to get up to make food, even if I’m hungry, so I eat junk, or I don’t even have energy to go shower even if I feel gross, etc. I just want to lay in bed all day long.”– Isabelle O.

17. “I feel tired all the time, and struggle to focus/concentrate to the point where I can not even watch an episode of my favorite show without doing something else (scrolling through Facebook, playing a game on my phone).” — Karlee F.

18. “Sleeping excessively is often the first sign that I am having a relapse. Very quickly excessive sleep breeds thoughts of worthlessness and self-criticism. That in turn makes me prone to isolate and self-harm, all the while my constant thoughts that disappearing from the world is the best choice become harder and harder to dismiss.” — Ericka M.

19. “When I start feeling disconnected in groups. Smiles, laughter and conversations are forced. A feeling of numbness takes over and I start finding distractions to avoid it. When I can’t seem to bother with cleaning the mess I’m making, the state of my room and otherwise. A little bit of self-harm. Yup, that’s depression for me.” — Sukriti T.

20. “A red flag for me is when I tell myself that I don’t deserve to go out today, because I already went out earlier that week. Or when I tell myself that I should just lay in bed because it’s not like anybody’s going to care if I’m there or not.” — Sofia S.

21. “I stop putting on makeup, start making excuses not to do things and start to wear my hair in only messy buns. I am not saying it is wrong not to wear makeup, however this is a sign that I am losing my energy and motivation.” — Hannah M.

22. “When I get hyper-cynical and start seeing things in a very negative way, I know my black curtain is not far away. I try to combat it, but sometimes the curtain weighs too heavily and I have to work through it.” — Mike P.

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.



22 'Red Flags' That Might Mean You're Slipping Back Into Depression
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9 Ways to Understand Someone With Depression

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This piece was written by Kirsten Corley, author of “But Before You Leave

It’s being asked, “What’s wrong?” and I don’t even have an answer. Because in retrospect, nothing is “wrong.” My life is good. But at the same time, that “nothing” is everything consuming me. Because it’s just feeling. An “off” feeling I can’t shake for long periods of time.

And when someone asks, “What can I do?” There’s nothing really they can say or do to change how I feel inside.

It’s two forces being pulled against each other because I want them to stay, but I also push them away because, in my mind, I am a burden or a bother. I think I am dragging them down, also. And no one deserves that. No one deserves to worry about me, and I don’t want to put that on them.

So, the easiest thing for me to do is pretend everything is fine. I say, “I’m fine,” and they walk away. Under my breath, I will say the words that go unheard, “Please stay.”

How do you understand someone who lives with depression? How can you detect if I’m lying because I think it’s better for you, when something is actually really wrong? How do you stay close to me when I push you away? And how do you understand something you simply can’t, unless you experience it?

1. Understand I’m not choosing to be sad.

I don’t wake up one day and think, “I really want this day to emotionally drain the shit out of me, to the point of tears I can’t explain.” There are just some days that will hit so hard, and when it does, please understand there isn’t a “solution” to it.

Depression is like a storm you can’t run away from. Because in my experience, the further you run, the faster it’ll chase you. I believe the best thing I can do is just stand there and face it head on. Let it come through, destroying everything in its path until the storm ends. Then, I’m left to pick up the pieces. And a new day begins,  a little brighter than the last. And I carry on. That’s depression.

2. Understand how afraid I am for you.

I don’t want to burden you with my own problems. I feel guilty. I don’t want you to worry. I don’t want you to look at me any differently, or perceive me as “weak.” I consider this my greatest weakness. And if it doesn’t destroy me, I fear it will destroy everyone and every relationship around me.

Please reassure me that who I am at my worst and lowest, isn’t an accurate depiction of me.

3. Understand how sorry I am.

If I trust you, let you in and completely break down, please understand how horrible I feel about it. I am going to apologize too often, and think I don’t deserve someone like you in my life. I try so hard to be strong.

4. Understand when I push you away, is when I need you most.

I push others away because I think they are better off alone. I convince myself no one will understand this thing I struggle with, so it’s best to face it alone.

But I believe the greatest company comes when I don’t want any. That moment I push someone away and instead of turning, they pull me in and remind me I’m not alone — it’s everything.

5. Understand when my mind is in a depressed state, nothing I’m telling myself is true.

There is a stream of phrases that goes through my mind, and in moments of depression, I believe it.

No one loves you. They feel bad for you. You are a burden to those around you. This is your fault. Everyone will leave. You are alone. It will only get worse.

In these moments, just tell me I matter, tell me you love me and tell me you aren’t leaving. Tell me it isn’t my fault. And that it will get better.

I believe demons within ourselves are the most difficult to overcome, but that’s what makes me so beautiful — my ability to overcome it and see the light in everyone and everything around me. Because I believe it’s only when you’ve learned to live in darkness that you can appreciate the light.

6. Understand I’m not depressed all the time.

Depression comes in waves. The best day of my life can be followed by the worst, and vice verse. Depression is something that coexists within me, never fully going away, but hiding in the shadows.

Sometimes, I can come across as the happiest, kindest person in the world. And it’s not that I’m faking it, it’s that on my good day, I really am that happy. It’s just those bad days that teach me to appreciate the good ones more.

7. Understand what I mean when I say, “I’m tired.”

I’m not tired because I haven’t slept — even though that’s probably true, too. It’s an emotional exhaustion of feeling everything in life so deeply. It’s the want and need to shut it off. But not even knowing how, because that’s who I am.

For many people with depression, “tired” isn’t something sleep can “solve.” It’s something I live with every day. But every once in awhile, I have good days that give me hope and strength on my worst days.

8. Understand the power you have in my life.

This piece was written by Kirsten Corley, author of “But Before You Leave

A kind text message. A snap chat. A “like.” A tag. A message. A conversation. An hour set aside. A visit. A compliment. These little interactions can shift my entire day. Because it’s the people I love that give me strength to get through the bad days.

9. Understand how much I love you.

Even in those moments when I might not be the person you recognize, I am still me. And I’ll say “thank you” too much, and apologize too often, and show you appreciation not just because you choose to be in my life, but you choose to accept this part of me when I struggle to accept myself.

It is through your love and acceptance that I am reminded to love myself.

This story is brought to you by Thought Catalog and Quote Catalog.

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Thinkstock photo via bignoze.

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How This 'Sexy Man' Learned How to Face His Sadness

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Look at the sexy devil in this pic!

Steven Oliver

He’s proper sexy! Smiling up all deadly way, thinking he’s real solid without a care in the world and working that camera like he’s the male version of Samantha Harris (probably because he is). He’s totally, utterly and undeniably happy, you’d think. Well he’s mostly happy. Just like everybody else he has his days where he feels like crap. When he wants to disappear from the world and go bush, which he may very well have if it wasn’t for his sexiness demanding he struts his sexy, sexy self in front of the nearest camera at every opportunity he gets.

In all honesty though, there was a time last year when his days were becoming weeks and then months until it seemed it might be a lifetime. He was disconnecting himself from people who cared about him. He wasn’t returning calls, text messages, emails or Facebook messages. He knew that speaking about it might open a floodgate of emotion and he didn’t want others to worry about him. How could he tell anybody who loves him dearly that he was having these thoughts where he’s falling from great heights and listening to the wind before the silence all in an attempt to block out the noise of the world. He couldn’t, so he either immersed himself in his career or hid away from the world so he could distract himself from what he was feeling.

If he ignored the worry, and numbed himself to every concern, then it would go away, even though deep down he knew better. He also knew it wasn’t his decision, concerning what people felt for him. If they wanted to worry then he should’ve let them instead of denying them the ability to be a support for him, instead of putting up this façade that all he needed was time when what he really needed was help. Inevitably it all came to a head one night when friendships were questioned. In his sadness he believed his silence spoke of his pain. He ignored the fact that it spoke to others that he no longer cared for them.

When faced with the question of friendship, he at first felt anger, but then his heart broke. See over the course of the last year, he had let what he was going through turn everything into a weakness that he needed to be ashamed about. But in an effort to keep his sadness at bay, he inevitably kept at bay people he loved. People reached out to him, but it was always too hard to deal with it. He was worried that if he faced it, he would collapse into a crumpled heap on the floor, letting his worry blind him to the fact that he needn’t face things alone.

He hid away in his room that night and cried for so many things. He cried for his friends, his family, every shitty thing that happened in the year and finally he cried for himself. He cried so hard and long it seemed he’d fall asleep in a puddle of tears but finally, he faced that which he had been scared of for so long — his sadness.

Despite the heartbreak that only a cry of that magnitude could bring, though, it also brought with it a relief, as though his tears were rain that had washed away this profound sadness he had clung to. This isn’t to say he woke up to a ray of sunshine, skipped down the street and found himself Prince Charming (though truthfully, he’d prefer Prince Sexy), but he did find that once he’d let go of this heaviness he had carried, his days got better.

There’s still work to be done, things to be mended and stuff to be talked about, but he’s not sad about it anymore. And when you consider there was a time last year when he wondered if his sadness would ever go away, well that’s a pretty good outcome. Actually, now that he thinks about it, it’s a bloody awesome outcome. He just remembered his session with a psychiatrist that cost $200 for an appointment and $400 for a diagnosis, $600 for 45 minutes of his sadness! Thank the universe for bulk billing! Not that he’s saying you shouldn’t see a psychiatrist and just have a good cry to fix yourself, just that it’s even more depressing knowing people are being charged that much for their misery.

It’s strange when he thinks about it, but he supposes that’s the balance of life. We couldn’t truly enjoy the heights of happiness without knowing the depths of sadness.

Maybe we need to look at the way we view sadness and the way we’re so easily ready to deny ourselves this very valid emotion, how we push it to the back of our “things to do” because nobody likes being sad. How we have to get on with it and through the day because time is money and bills need to be paid and there’s a thousand and one things to be done so we avoid it at every cost. Fooling ourselves to believe that our defiance and refusal of it is what makes us strong, while forgetting that our vulnerability to it and our acceptance of it, is what makes us human.

To be sad has somehow come to mistakenly mean that we’re no good, that we’re broken, that we’re weak. Truthfully though, if somebody should ask us if we’re OK and we have the ability to be honest, to look them in the eye and be fearless in our response and say, “No, I’m not. I need your help.” Then that’s undeniably strength right there. Don’t do what the sexy man in the pic did. He ended up wasting time that he’s still trying to make up for. Lucky for him he’s friends are still around, lucky for them he’s so sexy.

Steven Oliver starred in and co-wrote the Australian sketch comedy ‘Black Comedy,’ on ABC TV. Steven seen below in a popular sketch, ‘The Tiddas.’

As a poet, Steven explains the struggles of reconciliation and acceptance in his poem entitled; ‘Hate He Said.’ Filmed by Kindred SurPrize.

For more information on how to help family and friends who might be struggling go to R U OK.

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The Reasons I Wouldn't Be Here Without You

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

To my friends and loved ones who have been there to support me through my depression, I wouldn’t be here without you.

I feel like I can’t move; I haven’t been to work in three days, and everything feels hopeless — you listen on the phone and talk me out of bed for the first time in days.

I wouldn’t be here without you.

I’m crying on the closet floor — you listen to me cry and tell me it’s OK and bring me a book that made you think of me.

I wouldn’t be here without you.

I withdraw from school and hospitalize myself — you drive up the entire coast to bring me home.

I wouldn’t be here without you.

I am afraid to be alone because I worry I might hurt myself — you fly into town to be with me, no matter how overwhelming and scary that is.

I wouldn’t be here without you.

I quit my job and am cut off by my father — you welcome me into your home and make it mine.

I wouldn’t be here without you.

I can’t breathe or stop crying and I don’t want to be alone — you come straight home from work to hold me and tell me you’re not going anywhere.

I wouldn’t be here without you.

I’m lost, afraid and try to push you away — you don’t let me.

I wouldn’t be here without you.

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

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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Thinkstock photo via Bokeshi

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Why Beating Yourself Up Is Exhausting

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The title above seems rather obvious, but for those of us struggling with mental illness, it is a cruel reality. This week, the stressors of my life, good and bad, are taking their toll. I could give you an itemized list, but then I’d stress about which really needed to be written down and shared and which seem ridiculous. I will summarize it by saying my kids and I are leaving our school in two and a half weeks, and I have to change therapists because of crappy insurance. And I don’t want to (insert full-blown temper tantrum here).

When things get overwhelming, rather than dealing with the reality, my depression and anxiety try to convince me that these issues are insurmountable, scary and probably my fault. I must not deserve to have a good therapist. I am scarring my children by switching their schools. I shouldn’t be leaving my job. I am pathetic and broken. And so I eat. And then I get mad at myself for eating (usually ice cream). And now I hate the way every piece of clothing looks on me. And I am a bad role model for my children… (I’ll stop here, but suffice to say it keeps going and going).

As you can imagine this is not healthy (understatement) and it is exhausting. I have learned skills to combat my thinking. Sometimes they work. Sometimes I am too tired to wholeheartedly try them. I know I need to, and my mind fights me during these times — and often wins. That is where I am today. Then I question my desire to even get better if it is so much work.

At this point, as much as I love my family and friends, they can’t win. Let me explain – I want them to reach out, but I have no idea what they can do. And what makes it worse is I think they are taking pity on me and only interacting with me because they are scared I am not well. I want to talk, and I really don’t want to talk. At these times, the words people have stupidly said to me (or I’ve imagined them saying) that can all be reduced to, “Are you possibly doing this for attention?” or “Mental health is not a chronic illness” come rushing to the forefront of my mind. I have to constantly remind myself this is not the attention I crave – that comes from so many other areas of my life – and this attention is miserable and not fun.

So at least for today – I’ll write. And when my kids get home I will smile, make a snack and talk with them (mask coming on). And then I’ll drag my ass to my group tonight and probably spend a good deal of time crying. Tomorrow morning I am hoping I will wake up with a different outlook, but for today, which has depleted most of my energy, I am going to give myself permission to rest.

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The Vicious Cycle of Chronic Pain and Depression

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There once was a chicken. And also an egg. And nobody seemed to know which arrived first.

Today, the mystery has yet to be solved.

For many folks with chronic pain, including myself, it seems we are trapped inside our own chicken and egg enigma with real-life consequences. Those consequences are the devastating, debilitating and derailing forces of depression.

Roughly 50 percent of people with chronic pain also have depression, according to Robert D. Kerns, National Program Director for Pain Management for the Veterans Health Administration. Many symptoms include the feeling of loss, isolation from friends and family and fatigue.

To further complicate things, these same experiences can also be results of the chronic pain itself that have caused the depression.

Unrelenting pain can take away so many of the things and activities you used to enjoy or even rely on, making you feel you are no longer yourself. For example, my life used to revolve around yoga. I was in the studio at least four times a week getting in touch with myself as well as getting in shape. I could not remember feeling any better than I did at that period in my life.

Then I got the ground pulled right from under my feet when I was hit with chronic migraines, neck and shoulder pain seemingly out of nowhere over two and a half years ago. I haven’t done yoga since.

The practice of yoga staved off my depression that I had experienced off and on since high school, so losing it was, and still is, something I had to grieve. That grief can become long-term and turn into depression as time goes on, and  you no longer recognize the person you’ve become. So not only are you missing the things that once gave you life, you’re also missing yourself.

You also now have two conditions to treat  —  pain and depression  — that are separate in one way but completely intertwined in another.

This creates a snowball effect. Actually, no, it creates a blizzard.

Pretty soon, you don’t know where you are, who you are or what’s ahead. This feeling can make your physical pain feel so much worse. This pain then makes you even more depressed than you were before, and the cycle continues.

And when I look back, I can’t see a damn thing.

The person I used to be and the life I used to live is something completely foreign to me now. This experience and this pain is all I know. At 28 years old, I’ve involuntarily taken on the role of a shut-in aside from going to work, which in itself is a challenge. I no longer socialize with my friends because it’s exhausting and painful. I no longer exercise because it’s exhausting and painful. I no longer clean my apartment or go to the store or travel because it’s exhausting and painful. If I have to do those things, I pay the physical and mental price for days. And the cycle continues once more.

Then, of course, you wonder: Would I still have this depression if my chronic pain was treated?

At this point, it is hard to say. It has become so ingrained into my being that I can’t imagine anything else. I can’t imagine not crawling into bed right after work and staring at the ceiling for hours until I eventually fall into a horrible and restless sleep. I can’t imagine picking up my niece and not cringing in agony. I can’t imagine going for a jog and not feeling my collarbone begging to burst out of my chest.

I long to do these things more than I can even describe. And that longing is painful and heartbreaking.

And, once again, the snowball flies down the hillside.

I don’t know what lies ahead or if there is calm after this storm. I’ve been continuously let down by false hopes from doctors and I’ve spent countless minutes in the car crying after a diagnostic test turned up negative.

I obviously still need to believe there will be relief one day. But until then, I tumble in the cold.

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