Depression is something so many people do not comprehend. Truth be known, many who suffer from it don’t understand it either.
Every Invisible illnesses such as depression is hard to appreciate for anyone who has not suffered. It is too easy to dismiss them as trivial or laziness because, people identify with what they see, not what they don’t
Possibly we are programmed to automatically reject such things as weakness in a society still comparatively young in an evolutionary sense. Many suffering with mental health conditions will certainly tell you that they feel very weak whilst suffering as though they are letting the side down.
Rarely does someone fully embrace a family member, colleague or friend and treat them how they need to be treated. Sadly, ‘pull yourself together’ is still a thing. Trust me, if pulling themselves together was a thing they would do it instantly. Why would anyone want to feel they are worthless, that their life is devoid of meaning?
Everyone who has suffered from depression can tell you, it’s the beast which never goes away. It can, to an extent, be controlled but it is always there lurking somewhere waiting for a time to attack again. If the attack only comes when it makes sense then it would be so much easier to avoid. Sure, there may be a trigger, something very difficult to deal with might be happening in life but, this is not always the case which adds even further to that feeling of utter uselessness. How can someone feel so utterly awful when everyone who knows them can clearly see their life is fine?
Society needs to change and understand that this is not a world of make believe and fantasy to avoid work, to avoid being sociable. To the sufferer this is as real as a broken bone or life threatening disease. To go to bed at night and pray that they don’t wake up isn’t a joke they play on their family or friends, it’s a very real feeling of needing release.
Stereotypes are another major hurdle when understanding depression. We see pictures of depressed people with their heads in their hands looking glum but this is rarely the reality. There are seldom better actors than those with depression. Happy, smiling faces, the life of a party, the rock everyone else turns to when they are in need. They are the more likely descriptions of someone who has depression. Look for your friends, family or colleagues who are showing some over the top behaviour patterns, who always seem to be bright and breezy when the weather is gray, especially think of that friend you have who you know is stronger than anyone else you know, they always bounce back no matter what hits them. They may be coping but, they might also be on the brink. Ask them how they really feel, at least twice and listen, really listen.
I am one who has suffered from depression on and off most of my life. I can remember as a child feeling terribly depressed. Crying my eyes out because my parents wouldn’t go visit relatives when I needed to get out of the house. Very reclusive not wanting to make friends, socially totally inadequate because, I was certain that I wasn’t normal, I wasn’t good enough for normal people, no one really liked me. I coped and hid it and it did not rule my life again until my mid to late 20’s. Married, 4 kids, two special needs, mum not long died. I lost my ability to cope. I went two years on medication in my very early 30’s before I learnt how to regain control of it. At this point, still so few understood, many would ever even know. I would say, perhaps two people offered me anything like understanding and support whilst so many others were telling me to sort myself out, to man up.
Only those suffering really know how they feel, trust them. Don’t question them and tell them it’s all in their head, of course it is! They know that, it is, to them, painfully obvious! They know all the amazing things they have to live for, they know that some day it will be better, that this feeling will pass but, not now, not today. What they need is for you to listen and believe them, this is very real, they need you. You need to be strong. If you don’t want to deal with it, tell them so, walk away, don’t pretend to care. They will at least respect your honesty. Sufferers know when someone is faking it.
Now you have read just a little about depression, ask yourself, if you suddenly developed a condition that was invisible, how would you want others to react?