First off, lets define what we’re talking about. Everyone on the planet experiences days when they feel kinda down, or blah, or apathetic. That is called “being human” and it’s not what I’m referring to as depression, unless of course, this feeling lasts day after day for weeks.
If it does, it may start to come under the heading of being depressed and needs to be explored. Here’s a different example….if you’ve just experienced a bit of sad news, or broken up with your partner, or are experiencing a loss (job, house, family member) then that sadness is an “appropriate” feeling of depression. If I encountered someone who just lost a beloved family member and they did not feel sad, I’d be concerned about them.
Okay, we got those two out of the way. The kind of depression I want to address here is what we in the field of psychology refer to as “clinical depression” . It’s when you find yourself feeling, sad, down, feelings of hopelessness. You feel empty inside. You tend to isolate and not want to do things with other people. You just want to stay home and sleep or watch endless t.v. to try to numb the pain. It lasts for days and weeks and doesn’t go away. It keeps you up at night or makes you want to stay in bed for days. It is difficult to concentrate and hard to go to work. You don’t find any sense of enjoyment in things anymore. THAT’s what I’m calling “Depression” and that’s the kind of depression that needs to be paid attention to.
If you happen to come from difficult beginnings… as in an emotionally sad childhood, feeling dismissed, unimportant, unloved for the majority of your childhood, those feelings of brokenness inside, if not addressed, stay with you into adulthood and most times will show up as major depression and or anxiety. They needed to be addressed years ago but because most times that doesn’t happen, they will show up in a louder form in adulthood.
Some people choose to self-medicate the pain of depression through over eating, alcohol, drugs, sex, spending money, gambling etc. All dead-ends. Each one of those listed might calm the pain for the first 5 minutes, but then the opposite happens. I don’t think I need to describe the downside of being hooked to anyone of the things I just mentioned. Just bottom line…it doesn’t CURE the depression, and actually makes it worse.
If you find yourself experiencing a bleak period in your life that doesn’t seem to resolve on its own, I urge you to pay attention to it. Make sure you’ve had a recent physical and that it is not stemming from something that needs medical attention. If the med exam is clear, we’ll know it is psychological. I describe it as broken pieces of you inside yourself wanting to be heard, needing to be acknowledged. You might have tried to “stuff them” or shut them in some kind of container for a long time. But that does not solve the hurt and when the depression/sadness starts to spill out because it gets bigger than the container…they (these broken pieces) need your full attention and understanding.
It can be tough, even scary to look within and listen to what the sadness is trying to tell you. That’s when the guidance and support of a trained therapist becomes invaluable. I’ve had more than my share of depression in my life starting way back as a child. And I know how horrible the pain can be. I’ve lived with depression and I know depression from the inside out. I didn’t just study it in Psychology classes or read about it in a book. I also know the effectiveness of a good therapist for turning it all around. It is why I chose to become a therapist.
I know firsthand that depression causes your vision of the world to shrink. You loose sight of all the magic and wonder all around you, and all you feel is either sad or numb. All you see is darkness and loss of any brightness you once had for living. Please don’t stay there. Know that the place of emptiness you feel is the depression speaking. It is the unexpressed sadness inside raising its hand and yelling at you to please pay attention! It needs nurturing and recognition.
Please get the guidance from a skilled therapist to help you listen to what your inner voice needs to tell you so that you can heed the important insights from what it reveals to you. It will be at a pace no faster than you are wanting to go. The therapist guides you safely and gently on the path with you. It is your ticket to freedom. You will be all the stronger and wiser because of taking the journey. Then you can joyously move on to a freer, more peaceful, you. Living in the light and beauty of the world, where you belong!