Have you ever heard of something or seen something and before you actually saw it you had in your mind what you thought it would look like? Then when you finally see it or learn more it looks nothing like what you visualized? I’ve had this experience a few times in life as I’m sure many of you have.
Whether it be a cake you ordered looking nothing like what you ordered but tasting great or looking just like what you ordered but not tasting so good. Maybe it’s a person you met and their voice doesn’t match what they look like. I know I’m not the only one who’s met someone and they’re all of 15 but has a voice like Barry White Lol! Maybe you’ve met someone and learn that they are 56 but look like they’re 35! You ordered something online and on the computer screen that color looked really great but when you get the package and open it, it’s not quite the color it appeared to be. Oh this one really gets me- the commercials on tv with the food that looks amazing! You go to the restaurant and order the exact same thing you saw and when they bring it out you’re like what is this?!
Either way at some point we’ve all experienced seeing something or receiving something and it not quite looking like what we thought. That’s what depression looks like. You might see someone looking great, working out, making good life choices, being a great parent or spouse, volunteering in the community, helping at church, going to work and being productive. Doing everyday life things and you’ll have no idea that they cried all the way to work. They were late picking up their kids because they couldn’t get out of bed. They canceled plans because something came up but that something was they couldn’t take another moment of having to smile around people and pretend to be ok when they physically just can’t move.
Depression doesn’t look like someone crying all the time or being sad everyday. It doesn’t look like someone who is always angry or confused. It does not look like someone who’s life is falling apart. As a matter of fact it can look like someone who has all their ducks in a row. I know because I’ve suffered from depression on more than one occasion. And there are still some days I have to fight against it. People around us often don’t know it because we work really hard to hide it. We go to great extremes to be the best version of ourselves so that no one will pick up on it. But it’s there. And when we get home behind closed doors it comes out in full force. Because being alone is our safe place.
Those who suffer from depression don’t want to burden others which is why we try to hide it. We don’t want someone feeling like they always have to cheer us up or watch us like a hawk. A part of us feel shame because we don’t even know exactly why we are depressed. We look at our lives and say “Man, I’ve got it good. What’s the problem?” I can’t tell you how many times I said this to myself during my husband’s deployment. I had been through a few deployments before in my previous marriage but this one was different. There were a lot of surrounding circumstances that I’d experienced in previous deployments that were similar to this one like just getting married, having a baby. But this time I just couldn’t seem to shake this downward spiral I was on. I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to go anywhere. I didn’t want to talk to people but I needed people. My kids kept me moving forward but even that was exhausting. Parenting is already a lot of work but parenting three kids including an infant, working full time, newly married, husband deployed and a list of other things it was just more than I could mentally and emotionally handle.
We don’t want people feeling sorry for us so we aim to put up a strong front. And truthfully we are strong. It takes a lot to get up everyday and take care of your family, work, be there for friends, be productive etc. But it doesn’t take away from the fact that we feel like we’re dying or drowning. It doesn’t change the reality that we want to lock ourselves away, sit in the dark and silence and not have to face another moment of feeling like this. There are moments when the things we are feeling can be all consuming. It’s almost like not being able to breathe. Our thoughts can feel like mush. We can’t remember simple things including how we got home from work. It’s like being on auto pilot. We’re just going through the motions, trying to make it through another day. And while we really do want to be left alone at the same time we don’t. We want people to show us that they care about us and that they want to help.
If you know someone who is suffering from depression some things you can do to help are:
- Listen. We want to be heard and understood. Not fixed. We are trying every day to do our best. Solutions like “Just shake it off” do not help and under devalue what we are feeling or going through.
- Keep us busy. Invite us to do things or offer to come over and sit with us to watch movies or something fun. We may say no but strongly encourage us to do something fun.
- Highlight the postive. Say positive things to us to encourage us. At times we can struggle with seeing the good in things and having someone give us a gentle reminder can go a long way.
Also here’s a link that can help you understand a little more what someone who is dealing with depression feels like https://themindsjournal.com/11-habits-of-people-with-concealed-depression/?amp
If you know or feel like you are depressed some key things to remember are:
- You are not alone. There is someone who has been where you are and made it to a better place. Check out this article that discusses a survey on how people with depression really feel but won’t say out loud sometimes https://themighty.com/2017/06/smiling-depression-facts-relatable/. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone about how you are feeling.
- Try to do things you really like. Find or remember your hobbies and aim to do those things. They will take the focus off of how you feel, even if for a short time frame.
- You will not feel like this forever. It feels like it will last forever and that you will never feel normal again. It’s not true. You will. Keep putting in the work. Keep trying. Better days are ahead and YOU CAN LIVE FREE OF DEPRESSION. I know because I do.
Remember that looks can be deceiving but depression is very real. I know at times we feel like certain issues can be talked about repeatedly but they are being talked about repeatedly for a reason. People are suffering in silence and sometimes all they need is for someone to give them a hug, check on them, tell them that they are loved and show that they truly care. It goes a long way in helping someone recover and move forward.