Believe it or not, but last week I was in a state of depression.
I spent the entire week in my pajama’s. Dirty, stinky dishes piled the sink and began to take over the counters. I had 4 bags of trash sitting at the door and the house looked like a “hoarder” in training (okay, probably not as bad as a hoarder). Regardless, I was totally in a funk.
Saturday, I bounced out of my so-called funk. I took a shower, dressed up (even put on shoes), took a small stroll outside for a cup of coffee, enjoyed my cup of coffee overlooking the scenic hills from our patio, and without effort, cleaned my house. The old, happy, overly positive, smart ass me had returned.
I must have been in a funk, because my husband surprised me by taking the trash out and I didn’t have to ask or tell him to do it. That is a huge act of kindness, because my husband hasn’t taken out the trash in about 2 1/2 years!
Pesky Seasonal Affective Disorder
Every Winter, I encounter short periods of depression. It is supposedly referred to as “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” It is something my father and I both experience every year, like clockwork. We call it our “hibernation” period, because that is what it feels like to us. The first short day of Winter, we become hermits and spend most of the winter snuggled up in warm winter blankets, relaxing on the couch, watching movies and eating junk food. Then, as soon as Spring hits the air, we are rarely found indoors and we tend to shed our junk food weight without effort. Unfortunately, we might experience a couple days of depression during our so-called hibernation period, in which, is most often triggered by dark, cold, rainy days and last week, was certainly dark, cold, and rainy.
Lack of Positive Support
Saturday, I gave Depression a lot of thought; especially, about people who have chronic depression. Not everyone who experiences depression is fortunate enough to have the ability to easily get out of their state of depression. Furthermore, I realized just how significant negative surroundings can impact your ability to get out of any state of depression.
Last week, in my small state of depression, I noticed that when I tried to reach out for help, nobody cared. My closest friends and family either didn’t have time to talk, thought my depression was “ridiculous,” viewed depression as a gateway to drama, or just didn’t know how to handle it and simply ignored it. Personally, those kind of responses seemed hurtful, but honestly, I think are quite common.
In most cases, I think people just don’t want to be swindled into a possible “pity party.” Depression can be used as an effective way to gain attention for those seeking attention. It can also be used to manipulate people and take advantage of their kindness. Furthermore, depression can also be used as a convincing excuse for laziness. I think this is maybe why some cases of true depression are overlooked or ignored by others.
Then, there is also the inconceivable notion that happy people cannot simply experience depression. Welcome to my world! When I ask my friends and family why they don’t take me seriously when I express my depressed feelings, this is their response, “But you are always so optimistic, happy, and always smiling; how could you be depressed?” Well, shall I start with the mechanics of the human brain, because after all, I am human.
Not everyone is going to be forthcoming about their depression and reach out for help. I think a lot of people keep it to themselves in fear of these types of negative responses. If you think about it, if one with true depression does reach out for help and is bombarded with negative responses, how does that give one hope that they will overcome their depression? It doesn’t, it makes them believe that nobody cares and encourages the feeling that they don’t seem to matter very much at all. And, I think that is how depression worsens over time for some people.
The Power Of A Good Hug
I am not an expert on depression and I know everyone experiences depression differently, but if I were to offer some advice on how to make a depressed person feel like they matter, when all the words in the world become meaningless, I would say give them a hug. It’s a good start at least. Even if they don’t want a hug, cross those boundaries and give them a hug, well, just be sure to do it in a non-creepy, supportive way. I know there are times when I don’t want a hug, but I could probably use one and despite saying “no,” I probably wouldn’t stop a friend from giving me a good hug. It is amazing how a simple hug can make a person feel like they matter when all the words in the world just don’t seem convincing enough.
Dealing With Those Faking Depression
Personally, I treat everyone expressing depression with kindness, compassion, and understanding, including those who are just seeking attention. The truth is, I don’t know what everyone expressing depression is going through and those who fake depression for attention, are doing it because they are obviously going through something too and need just as much help.
Everyone needs positive support, but it only becomes useful, if you offer the right positive support. In situations, in which I am bamboozled into feeling sorry for a person faking depression, I don’t start to ignore them; instead, I begin to provide the type of support they need rather than what they want, in effort to help push them in a different positive direction and protect me from unnecessary drama. However, this is totally not ideal for toxic people. When toxic people hit the radar, the best thing to do is to ignore them.
My point is, treat everyone with kindness, compassion, and understanding, so that you don’t miss anyone who is actually in need of help for severe depression; keeping in mind that even those faking depression, might need your help too.
Thoughts? How often do you think depression goes unnoticed and what would you do to comfort a person with depression?