Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Depression Hurts

Depression hurts. You've probably heard that phrase, it's the “jingle” for one of the major anti-depressants out there. My depression started with my chronic pain. It now continues with chronic medical issues.

Do you know what depression feels like, besides pain? Let me try to explain to you. Try. It's my theory that if you've never had it, you can never fully understand it.

Depression is like being dressed in chain mail, that's so heavy it's hard to move. It's trying to see through dirty windows. It's small tasks taking on insurmountable numbers of steps. It's the inertia of “I'll just stay right here, it's too hard to do anything else.”

Yesterday I had two more procedures, and my body feels like it's a dish rag that has been wrung dry, run over repeatedly by a truck, threaded through with the drying line, and is flapping in the wind, with no control over what happens next. Is some kid going to throw a rock at it? Will the squirrels come chew on it? Is someone going to yank it down, throw it in the washing machine to drown?

I have a lot of tasks with actual deadlines (we're not talking working on my book which went on the back burner a week ago and is now off the stove and put away). I need to get things ready for an important party. I need to do laundry, because almost everyone is out of clothes (and don't say have my boys do it, there was a third Saturday night trip to the ER and OYT is now one handed with a bad hand sprain.)

We need groceries, which I will have delivered, but let's break that down into all the steps that paralyze a depressed person.
  • find website
  • find weekly newspaper ad from store
  • navigate website
  • use weekly ad to choose items that are on sale and family might eat for dinner
  • add/remove items to stay within budget
  • pay
  • arrange deliver time
  • be dressed enough with hair combed enough not to frighten driver
  • put away groceries

Non-depressed people say helpful things like:

Cheer up! It's all going to be fine.”

Pray. God is bigger than this. He'll help you out of this.”

You shouldn't be depressed, look at all your blessings!”

Being depressed is not the Christian way to behave. We have Jesus, we're going to heaven, all this earth stuff is nothing.”

You're being selfish. You don't get to lay in bed all day feeling sorry for yourself. Get up and do something.”

And my favorite, “I know just how you feel. I get sad sometimes too, but it passes. You'll feel better soon.”

Well, there are these these brain chemicals that let the nerve cells (neurons) communicate with one another, sending correct messages all over your brain. They are called serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. When they get depleted from stress, pain, disease or other factors (use wiki “depression” for good info), they can't communicate effectively, and sometimes send the wrong signal, or no signal at all. This disorder has been compared to diabetes where there isn't enough insulin produced, another chemical inbalance.

Would you walk up to a diabetic and tell them to get over it? That if they just prayed more they'd get better? That they shouldn't be diabetic because they are so blessed? I don't think you would.

Please have patience with us depressed people. We are trying. We'd love nothing more than to be normal. We want to enjoy what we used to enjoy. We want not to hurt. Meanwhile, we're wearing chain mail, can't see through the dirty windows, and hurt all over. Give us a break, a gentle hug. And some slack...

P.S You're probably wondering what they did to me yesterday to bring on this dump of personal info. Colonoscopy and endoscopy. Waiting for results of multiple biopsies. Thanks for listening.


D.G. Hudson said...

I think you did a excellent job of explaining depression, Tina. One of my kids has a chronic illness as well (she's had it for over ten years.) As she has gotten older it has increased. They told it was a rare disease that would go at 25, but it didn't. It gets worse at times, and she just tries to control the associated depression.

I've tried my best to talk her through it, but it's taking a toll on me too. She started a counselling session this week which we hope will help. I've read quite a bit on the subject trying to help her. Her friends are trying to also help her by making her do things when she can.

Take care and just do what you have to do. Those are pretty invasive procedures you had. My heart goes out to you and your family.

Brian Miller said...

best wishes on your results and i am sorry...ugh..the religeousity answers just frustrate the crap out of me because they lack the understanding they preach...

Graciewilde said...

Depression is complicated. I know that to be true. No easy fixes there either. Bottom line is that it robs one of energy and enthusiasm for life.
Depression can also be well hidden, I am learning to withhold judgement on other people. Until we have walked in their shoes, we have no business making judgments about how they should do their life. Those people who urge others to "count their blessings" or "just change the way you think about things" may be wanting to be helpful but I don't think they have a clue about the nature of depression.
The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon is both readable and informative around the topic of depression.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I have a friend who is both bipolar and suffers from depression. He tries so hard, but he can't just snap out of it either.
I'll do the only thing I can do - I'll pray for you.
And send some clones over to help with the laundry.

Natasha Duncan-Drake said...

I have never suffered from depression, but I have several friends who do and have seen their struggles. I wish you every luck and hope with the results of the tests and that your depression at least eases a little soon. *virtual hugs*

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tina .. I wish I was nearer so I could do some of the chores for you - sadly just too far away.

I have a friend who became depressed from baby blues, which led to depression ... thankfully it's 'controlled' with pills - but her daughter (my god-daughter) aged 20 and adult oriented is aware that she is also having the same challenges - her grandmother had it too ..

It's not something I understand .. but briefly I felt overwhelmed when my mother was ill and my uncle was in hospital and I was looking after two houses ... but at least I was in control and on my own ...

My thoughts go out to you and are with you ... I just hope those dreadful biopsies help resolve your pain - with the knowledge at least of what is going on ..

I hope the family are helping ... and I hope there are some good friends or near family to help ... I can only send you hugs and many many thoughts .. Hilary

shelly said...

I have mild depression, and sometimes it is hard to keep going and doing.

Hugs and chocolate,

Jeremy [Retro] said...

i think i told you that i love you like a sister... sister, i am sure i am one of those a-holes who has said any of those phrases, except the last that is just wrong... i give you wuzzle words to encourage... and remember that is half the word "rage"... want only the best for you and you will find your feet, it's just up to you to find out when... i think that sound encou"raging"...

JoJo said...

I've been depressed before but never to the point where I literally cannot function, except the summer my dad died, I slept a lot. Allie from the Hyperbole & a Half blog wrote about it too.

It sucks that you are going through all this at the same's really piling on. I'm never sure what to say if a friend says or blogs that she's been in a deep depression. I don't want to say any of the things you listed b/c I know they aren't constructive or really well received, but I want to convey that I hope they feel better soon...

Andrew Leon said...

Well, you know, some people do treat diabetics that way. It's kind of a "you got yourself into this problem, so just fix it" kind of attitude. And, while there are things the diabetic can do, it's not -that- simple.

I used to order groceries back when I hated taking my kids to the grocery store. I used Safeway. They have a pretty good system, and you don't need to have a paper to find the sales or anything, because they have them all listed online, often with special online only special offers. The only real drawback to using them is allowing other people to pick out your produce for you, but that's going to be the case with any online ordering.

Lucy said...

I am so sorry to hear you are struggling and you should write about it.
All I can offer is a big (((virtual hug)))

Lucy from Lucy's Reality

Sidonie Helena said...

I have depression, and sometimes life just feels like a never ending storm.

Hope you get on top of it soon, but I know from experience that's easier said than done.

Andrea said...

Gads! I don't know who says those kinds of things to a depressed person's face...out loud. I hope instead, someone offers to get your groceries or do your laundry. Your explanation sounds pretty spot on. When I looked at your list of things to consider regarding the groceries, I was reminded of a stint a few years ago when I was equally upset about running out of bread for lunches as I was about my cousin being in Iraq. I lost the ability to prioritize, let alone actually get things done. Sending healing thoughts your way.

LD Masterson said...

My mom suffered from schizophrenia and manic-depression. I will always remember well-meaning friends telling her to get over it, it's all in her mind. Well, of course it is. The brain is an organ and just as susceptible to illness as any other organ. Why don't people understand that?

Rachel said...

I'm going to share this link on Twitter, to my massive 30 something followers, and I would like your permission to link to it on my blog when I post next.

I won't say that I know what you feel like because I don't. I know what depression feels like and I've been fighting my hardest for years because of it, but I don't know what YOU feel like because depression attacks people differently.

I can't imagine what you've had to go through with so many health issues, but I do believe your physical state will get better. The doctors will find out whats wrong and they'll be able to take care of you so that you won't hurt anymore. And even though it seems like things will never get better, that nobody understand anything, that its impossible just to keep breathing every day... things will eventually get better. Bad things can't last forever, even though it seems like it will.

If you need anything, please let me know.

Jo said...

Depression is such a modern illness and so few people recognise that it is an illness and not something you can push aside or snap out of. Can you not get someone in to help with all those chores? It would take some of the strain off you.

Wishing you all the best Tina. Hang in there girl.

lookingonthebrightside said...

Depression lies. But it will not win. (((((Hug))))))

lookingonthebrightside said...

Depression lies. But it will not win. (((((Hug))))))

Alison Sommer said...

*hug* "It's trying to see through dirty windows" is a very, very good analogy. People who tell you to just get over it are jerks. Find help where you can, and try to give yourself a break. Depression sucks.

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

For a few years after finishing college I felt quite depressed. It felt like my career would be just working part-time in convenience stores and listening to people badger me for not proposing to my girlfriend.

I don't know if what I went through counts as depression, but it was a rough time in my life. I'm happy to say I've turned it all around, but if what I felt was even the smallest fraction of what a depression-sufferer feels, I have only the utmost sympathy and support for them.

Several of my closest friends struggle with depression and receive help for it. I could never bring myself to blame them for it or expect them to put on a false front.

Donna Smith said...

I would suspect that being depressed would make it difficult even to pray effectively or at all, so MY prayers are lifted for you.

klahanie said...

Dear Tina,

Those who do not understand, or refuse to understand, will indeed say such things like, "get a grip!" That everybody gets depressed every once in awhile and they just get on with it.

However, they should know of the debilitating nature that is ongoing depression. Be it caused by genetics (nature), the environment (nurture), or a combination of both.

Depression is a thief. Robs the colours from the rainbow. What those who have never experienced ongoing depression must realise is that it can happen to anyone. Their is no shame in having mental health issues.

Through your eloquent transparency, dear Tina, you have brought further awareness. Like you, I have worked in a cause to eliminate the labels, the unfair stigma that still surrounds mental health issues.

I am heartened that the public perception has improved and less people now pass judgement via convenient stereotypes.

Tina, I do my best to live with, rather than suffer from my mental health concerns. We both know that it's only a small part of who we are.

Thank you for your candid posting. Wishing you good results with your biopsies.

And Tina, I know that your verbalisation here was positive therapy. In conclusion, I send you the powerful gift that is empathy.

Your friend,


Anonymous said...

I use the analogy of diabetes when people don't understand. Your post is an excellent description of the realities of living with depression, particularly the dirty windows. I feel like I'm at the bottom of a murky pond, where everything is dark and muffled. My husband says he's dangling a line, trying to help fish me out.

Wishing you a line to help you resurface. Or at least some laundry fairies...

Samantha Jones said...

The laundry can wait, other people's needs can wait...take a moment for yourself to do something that you enjoy, everyday, even if it's just for an hour. Don't put your book away - that's important to you! You have an obvious gift for storytelling, don't set that aside. It will help you get through the debilitating fog and give you hope...I leave you with my compassion and heartfelt hope that your health will improve. In the interim, I can send you wine and chocolate via a half-naked Henry Cavill:)

Maggie Winter said...

Oh sweetie, so sorry for you having those tests, had them and they are nasty. You really don't need that on top of depression. I suffer a chronic illness too and it makes life so hard at times.(most of the time)
Klahanie had it spot on, it 'robs the colors from the rainbow' it does that alright. If a few weeks in the sun could help I have a two bed guest house, you'd be welcome anytime in Brazil. :)
Keep talking to us it'll help.

Mina Lobo said...

Depression can also feel like you're sleepwalking through life. Or nightmaring through it, depending. Or maybe you think, even though you wouldn't take active steps to end your life, you almost don't care whether you continue to live or not.


I've actually mentioned in a blog post that folks who try to cheer or guilt someone out of depression are useless (well, I said worse than that, I think). If you want to help someone who's suffering from depression but have no idea how, I suggest 1) Offering to support your friend however s/he needs you and 2) Keeping in touch w/him or her, to share your life and listen in return.

Tina, I'm wishing you a smooth and swift recovery, and the very best of luck in fighting the good fight. (((((Tina)))))

Jenny said...

Sending you prayers of healing and peace.

I'm sorry Tina.

These sound like tough times.

Diana said...

Thanks for sharing - sometimes I wonder if depression is going on with me, I often don't feel like myself -- pulling for you my virtual friend!

Romance Reader said...

Yes, depression hurts. The sufferer and the sufferer's partner if there is one. People often fail to realize that. said...

Hi, Tina.

I like your response to OYT, and you quickly curbed that conversation.

It's great to meet you here. We're teaming together for a top secret mission later this summer.

Happy weekend.