What is depression?
I love this quote by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, about how to explain depression: “Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”
That’s so true isn’t it? We all carry weights on our shoulders, like those water bucket carriers from days of old. What sort of sadness is sloshing around in those buckets? Do you keep your buckets covered and their contents secret, or do you let people see what’s inside?
Depression is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as:
Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
Symptoms of depression vary from person to person. For me, it is fatigue, lack of motivation, and fluctuations in appetite. For others, it can be anger, or issues with sleep.
How would you define it? I asked Twitter to define depression in 140 characters or less. This is what they came up with.
Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.
How to explain depression
“Darkness embraced me and is now the closest lifelong friend I’ll ever know, who robs me of any ability to enjoy or care or function or try.” @arcanedrag0n (dragonscodex.net)
“Depression is like drowning. I always feel the weight of the worthlessness and hopelessness choking me.” @thestrugglejugg (www.thestrugglejuggle.com)
“Depression is putting on make up, getting dressed, and going to work while no one knows that you had to lay in bed for 2 hours to do it.” @ashley_runals (www.ashleyrunals.com)
“Depression is dark, it stops you from doing the simplest of things, answering the phone, isolation, personal hygiene…” @ladyfibro (www.ladyfibro.co.uk)
“Depression is a black hole with no escape. Each wall taller than the other, there’s no light shining through. Everything is gray and bleak…” @CCaffeinatedmom (www.chronicallycaffeinatedmom.org)
“Depression feels like you’ve been carrying the weight of the world for too long and you’ve forgotten your worth and value.” @KellyMartin_UK (www.kellymartinspeaks.co.uk)
“Depression on me looks like someone who stays in bed all day, doesn’t shower, and cries in the walk-in closet. It’s also not calling anyone…” @sheedahsunshine (http:/www.sheedahsunshine.wordpress.com)
“Depression is like having a thick, black tar that seeps through your mind. It turns the good stuff bad & makes your thoughts jumbled, dark…” @MeditativeO (www.meditativeowl.wordpress.com)
“I think it’s like being surrounded by fear: fear of making mistakes, fear of people judging your every move, fear of saying No, fear of loss…” @snumanali
It’s a sense of apathy.
“A sense of apathy and disconnect that leaves me not caring about anything. Whilst conversely feeling so sensitive and full of shame…” @TheMINDBERG (www.themindberg.com)
“Depression is like drowning in darkness. You’re continuing to fall down this void and can’t imagine a way out…” @lifebeautymom (www.lifebeautyandmomming.com)
“Living in a fog. Like living through life sleepwalking while carrying around burdens that you can’t seem to unload…” @Tiffanys_Blog
“Like you fell into a deep well and can’t find the strength or will to climb up the sides or find a way out. There is no point to anything…” @lindengroveblog
“It feels like my emotions have been taken away from me and all I’m left is with unending apathy. Like there’s a void within me…” @Caedere4 (www.howtorelationship101.blogspot.com)
It’s like a boulder.
“Depression is like that famous boulder… it rolls over you but you can’t out run it! And it weighs you down!” @DisabledDisney (www.disableddisney.com)
“Depression is my thief in the night, silently stealing my hope, joy, faith. Who would even want to steal from such an empty hole?…”
“It’s like that scene in Never Ending Story. Where Atreyu and his horse are in the swamp of sadness.”
“It feels like a permanent state of exhaustion and hopelessness. And always wanting someone to have a magic wand to make it better.” @Tenderfootmum (www.tenderfootnurse.com)
“Waking up every morning under six feet of sand you have to claw through before getting dressed. Then if you even make it out, you feel unproductive…”
“For me, depression manifests as sadness, lack of interest in everything, & lack of desire to do anything…” @MomminReal (www.momminintherealworld.com)
“For me, depression was voices. It was someone screaming in my head. It was the voice in my brain telling me I would never be good enough…”(katemartin.co)
It can’t always be seen.
“Depression can’t always be seen. Often those who are seemingly the happiest, are the most depressed. It’s not something we can just get over.” (www.daringwomaninc.com)
“Depression wears many faces and mine is rooted in pain. I live in emotional and physical pain every day.” @DragonsCodex
“Depression feels like a fog. You’re living in the gray, you can’t see the sun. The fog is thick and moving through it takes all your strength.”
“Depression can make you feel like your alone despite being surrounded by hundreds of people. It can talk you out of pretty much anything…” @TalesofJenn (http://www.talesofaprofessionalprocrastinator.wordpress.com)
“Depression by itself is a negative emotional state. It’s a fight with your thoughts, feelings and acts. It’s an emptiness and darkness…” @small_guide (www.mysmalltravelguide.com)
“On most days, my depression is subtle. It’s like coming up for air except, each breath is shallow and rushed rather than paced and natural…”
“Depression to me has been making myself do everyday things like go to work & take care of my son but all I want to do is be left alone…” @blu_temptation (www.blackgirlandanime.com)
How common is depression?
I gave my Twitter followers a poll. I asked them who considered themselves depressed or had in the past, and who did not. Out of 15 people, 100% said that they had suffered from some form of depression at some point in their life.
An overwhelming number. It just goes to show how far we have to go when it comes to resources and support.
Let me know in the comments what your best way of describing it would be. And don’t forget to share this article if you found it helpful!