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Sadness Is an Emotion, but Depression Is So Much More

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Depression is a serious and debilitating mental illness.

Sadness is an emotion.

Depression shows up in people in so many different ways. For some people, depression rears its ugly head in much worse ways than in others. It is really difficult to even begin to understand what depression is like without having experienced it yourself. For me, depression is like this dark cloud that is always around. It’s not something you always notice but it is there, waiting to come and make things worse or makes things seem worse.

Sometimes, depression is just this dense fog that you cannot seem to find your way out of. It can be like when you’re driving before the sun comes up, when it’s still dark outside, in the springtime when there’s just this fog everywhere and even the car fog lights don’t help you to see more than a foot ahead of you. Depression can feel like the fog is just never gonna clear, and you can’t even think of seeing yourself getting through it. Depression can feel like you are drowning in this lake called “life” and like no matter what you do, you cannot keep your head above the water. Depression can feel like you’re suffocating, as though someone is holding a plastic bag over your face and like there is nothing you can do or have the energy to do to stop them.

Sure, people with depression are sad, but it is so much more than that.

Depression can feel like you aren’t good enough.

Depression can feel like you’re always a failure, even when you do something better than other people.

Depression can involve a lot of black and white thinking — thinking that, if you don’t get a 100 percent on that test, then you failed.

Depression is sometimes just paying attention the negative things in life and not even being able to see the positive in any situation.

Depression can be feeling guilty and blaming ourselves for something out of our control.

Depression can be feeling tired all the time even after getting 14 hours of sleep after doing nothing all day.

Depression can be feeling unable to get any sleep because there’s a million thoughts going through your head, even after pulling an all-nighter to write your three midterm papers.

Depression can be feeling unable to focus or concentrate on simple tasks such as watching TV or reading a menu at a restaurant.

Depression can be feeling worthless and feeling like there’s no point in you being here.

Depression can be not enjoying things you used to enjoy, like sunsets, or driving with the windows down and the music too loud or spending time with your best friends you’ve known for almost half of your life.

Depression can be isolating yourself from everyone who cares about you.

Depression can make the simplest tasks that take little to no energy seem like so much work, like they take all the energy out of you.

Depression can be neglecting to take care of yourself, whether that is showering or eating or getting any kind of exercise.

Depression can be this voice in your head that often makes you think and believe all these things that aren’t true — things like “I don’t deserve to be here,” or “I don’t deserve to be happy because of X, Y and Z,” or “I got three questions wrong on this test, why am I such a failure?”

Depression can be looking happy and completely OK on the outside but be breaking on the inside.

Depression can be getting upset over things you never got upset over in the past.

Depression can be getting annoyed and irritated at the littlest things you normally would have been able to handle.

Depression can be feeling numb or emotionless.

Depression can be feeling oh so alone when you know you have so many people here for you and who want nothing more than for you to be happy and yourself again.

Depression can be feeling happy for moments or days, just to fall back into that depressed state.

Depression can be wanting so badly to open up to someone but not doing so because you feel like your problems aren’t as important as theirs are.

Depression can impact a person in everyday tasks, whether they are social, cognitive or emotional.

Depression can make you not want to get out of bed in the morning because you dread everything about life since it seems as though nothing and no one can bring you any kind of happiness anymore.

Depression is a constant battle with yourself. Depression cannot and does not just go away when people tell them to just be happy. Depression is not just sitting in your room all day crying, although sometimes it could be. But, depression is so much more. Everyone experiences sadness at some point in their life. Being sad once in a while makes us human. Some would even say without sadness, could we really ever be happy? Sadness makes you so much more able to appreciate the happy things. Being sad sucks, and it can be so painful. When people are sad, it is usually over something, so if that something were to change and not be that way anymore, then it can lead to the feeling of sadness going away. Depression is being sad or upset over everything and feeling like your world is falling apart.

My mom once said to me, “You may be depressed but you are not depression. You are not this disease.” It really made me realize how right she is. For me, ever since I found out I did have depression, I have walked around just letting this illness control my life and change who I am. I’ve let it take over my life and I have done nothing but give into it. All that giving into depression has done is let it become so much worse. It made me realize that my life is falling apart because I am not doing anything to change it. Depression is this hole I have been digging myself into and now I have so much more to do to get out of it.

But depression isn’t the end of the road; it’s just an obstacle or challenge life throws at you. It is sometimes this long and really difficult journey. Depression takes a lot out of you but it doesn’t mean you have to give up or that there are no other choices, even though it may feel like that. Life can be really beautiful, and you can be happy again, you are just going to have to work harder to get there.

Photo by Davide Pietralunga on Unsplash

Originally published: February 14, 2019
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