Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I know there are people who are depressed who are depressed around everyone; people who are melancholic, or outwardly irritable. I am generally not one of those people. When around others I usually can either fake it and be sociable and pleasant, or my mood actually does lift for the time
I am interacting.

I suppose many would see this as a gift...the ability to pretend, or actually become "normal", i.e. my pleasant self, when I need to. It may seem something like a superhero's ability to become an ordinary human when walking amongst the general public.

There are costs to this way of being. When I am severely depressed the energy it takes to be what I think others need me to be is exhausting. I often leave a social function feeling so much fatigue I want to throw up. The second I walk out the door intense depression sets back in, and I feel exhausted; even more so than my general day to day exhaustion.

The other difficulty I encounter, and this one I find so frustrating I want to scream, is that people don't believe I am sick, or depressed. If I reach out, or open up and bring up how depressed I am, I often (more often than not, hear so many stories about how friends, relatives, family members of the person I am talking with suffer from a depression much worse than mine.

Sometimes I just let the comments go, because it is not a contest...if they think that is the case who am I to argue. So often though I feel like my pain is being dismissed as mild, or not worth worrying about, or even worse, that I am being told I am not depressed at all.

This happened last night. I managed to open up to someone about my mood disorder and they immediately told me their sister had a depression "...much worse than {mine}". The sister had had a breakdown, ended up in care and during one episode became catatonic and had to be hospitalized.

That sounds like a very severe depression to me. It is very sad. How though is it worse than mine...years and years of cycling, no medications that consistently help, or if medications help side effects that impact my life, isolation from most of the people I know, loss of my job, paranoia, fear suicidal ideation loss of pleasure, fatigue, inability to motivate myself...and an increasing sense that I want to die all the time?

Last night every time I would express what my struggle was like this person would interrupt half way through to explain how I wasn't that depressed. Eventually I just became quiet and listened. I felt really dismissed and vulnerable for opening up myself only to be told others are far more depressed, and that I really had not experienced a "real" depression, not like other people have.

I am sure some others are far more depressed, though I do not understand how a person would manage to stay on this earth much more depressed than I feel sometimes. It is a brutally difficult battle at this severity.

I am sitting here right now, just trying to hang on. I feel so isolated and scared. I cancelled a volunteer luncheon I was supposed to go to because I am so depressed I feel physically ill. I know I will be in trouble for cancelling, because I have missed so many meetings recently, but I just don't have it in me to be fake, or for my mood to increase to please others, only to make me more intensely depressed and tired later.

I know it is weird that I care that others see how depressed I am. It is not that I want others to see how depressed I am, or to say yes you are severely depressed, or even to empathize or sympathize. I just want others to know I am not slacking, or lazy, or using the system, or getting disability for something that isn't that difficult to manage. I want others to know I am struggling against an illness just as severe and real as any physical illness. I want others to know I am trying as hard as I can, but my enemy is vengeful and strong. Maybe too, I am reaching out for help.


xthedestroyer said...

Wow....Just read this and your last entry and I am at a loss. I almost want to cry I feel so bad for you. Now I know you probably don't want empathy right now, but sorry, need to just comment. I really wish I could reach out, give ya a big ole hug and sit down and just listen to you pour out your problems. Not analyze or judge or offer advice, just listen. And I know its no consolation, but seems like we share much of the same traits in our depression. I too put on that silly mask when go out as well and always feel worse when am back in the privacy of home. Like I am being a fake. So, I say just be who you are. Maybe not necessarily to the degree where people avoid you, but don't repress it totally either. Not healthy for you. A cycle that long sucks, yeah. But you will bounce back again. Noticed you usually do. Damn, so wish I could hug and help ya. I feel intensely bad for you cause I know EXACTLY how you feel at the continue to write out your feelings and take care of yourself sweetie. Please....

The Girl said...

Suffering is not a competition! What was shy trying to prove?
Some people are just clueless, and I'm sorry that you received this reaction after opening up to somebody. Many people just don't know how to react when they encounter something that is not standard social chit-chat, even people who should know better. You deserved a better response, one that was about you and not about her.
Take care.

BC said...

For me it is the work Facade, "how are you?" "Oh Just fine". fake for 8 hours a day; I find myself feeling weak because I can't seem to fake it 24/7. For the people around me that need it most.

Eliza Jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer Riley said...

While objectively telling someone that they are better off than others may seem like a motivating technique to some, it does not change the fact that you are still suffering and that your illness deserves to be recognised and respected. Depression is not something that you just snap out of; it takes a lot of work and treatment. I hope you at least give credit to yourself for continuing and I hope you find much support from others in your life.

Also, depression is difficult to put into words, especially when you are not feeling well and the words come less easily. It only makes sense that you would try to find other ways of communicating your feelings to those around you.

Harriet said...

No one should ever compare their level of suffering to anyone else's. It's easy for me to say, but I do it myself. I also fake my way through every single day. The way I see it, no one wants to be around a depressed person. Logically I know that is not true, because if any of my friends were depressed I would stick by them and be supportive. But somehow I don't see the same thing happening for me.

BC said...

I mean generally people just want to hear "good or "Fine". Do people around you every day really want to hear that you are grappling at the edge of the abyss? My whole life I have crammed every feeling down deep holding it in at all cost not wanting to seem "weak". It is intriguing to hear others struggle to. I am not completely alone? I say to hell with respecting depression. I want to kick its ass! but right now it has the upper hand. We can do this can't we ?

WillSpirit said...

One of the worst things feelings my depression burdens me with is guilt. And shame. I 'should' be happier. I 'ought' to be more productive.

I don't have the gift or curse of looking happy when I'm not. Instead, I often look sad even when I'm contented. My whole life I've heard "why don't you look at the bright side?" "Don't take yourself so seriously." "Quit feeling sorry for yourself."

It has made me want to scream.

People don't know what to say. Mostly, if they know I'm depressed they just want to get away from me. In your case, it sounds to me like your friend finds it important to think of you as strong and happy. Like her/his world would be unbalanced if you were suffering. Just a guess.

Don't let the guilt, or other people's comments and issues, strike at your heart. Even if your acquaintances believed you were the most miserable person in the world, they would still not give you what you need. Only you can do that.

Depression simply makes it hard to relate to others, and for them to relate to us. So no matter how we're perceived, or what people say, it never works. And it doesn't help that other people are often clumsy and insensitive.

I hope my comment hasn't put me in that category too. I do believe I understand your frustration. Even if my reasons for feeling it differ from yours.

Handsome B. Wonderful said...

I could feel every word of this in my mind, heart and body. Your depression is very real and you deserve to be acknowledged. It belittles people to down-play their suffering. No one wants to be brushed off especially in our time of need.

Sadly, I think a lot of people don't see depression as a "real illness" and it makes me want to get on t.v. and scream. It's wrong what people are doing to the mentally ill. They aren't helping much at all and are in fact often making things worse. I hear what you're saying friend and agree. I send you hugs from afar.