Sadness and depression are not the same thing. I repeat, sadness and depression are not the same thing. Sadness typically has an identifiable cause such as a loss of a loved one or events not happening as planned. Because the cause of sadness is typically apparent, those around the person experiencing the pain can more easily identify with the sufferer and express empathy. However, depression is more insidious. The root cause is rarely well-defined and the symptoms can last much longer than is “socially acceptable”. Sufferers of depression are no stranger to well-meaning statements such as “look on the bright side” or “focus on the good things”. Even with the fundamental understanding of all the good things around you, if you suffer with depression you may still have a hard time simply snapping out of it.
A friend of mine shared with me what she called, “a little bit of postpartum depression”. She explained that it only lasted a few days, but it felt like an eternity. She stated, “There was little room for sadness really, just an overwhelming sensation of hopelessness.” As horrible as those days sounded, she said the experience was the best gift she could have ever received. She developed new insights into her husband’s depression. “I had no idea how horrible it could be. Mine was only for days but there was no way to simply shake it off. I can’t even imagine weeks, months, or even years of that feeling.”
Most people believe because they have been sad at times that they can imagine the effects of depression. However, unless you have felt the struggle created by a street fight with hopelessness, depression is nearly impossible to understand. Everyone experiences sadness throughout their life, but from the masses who have felt sad, very few in comparison have been pulled under by the weight of depression.
Simply looking at the bright side and thinking about all the great things in your life may work when you are feeling blue, but depression is usually much more difficult to beat. “I had a beautiful, healthy baby boy, was surrounded by supportive family and friends, it was May and I remember literally waking up to sunshine and birds chirping, and somehow I never felt so alone or hopeless in my life.” Recognizing the good in your environment and still struggling to feel okay is a trademark of the frustrations suffered by those with depression.
The stigma around depression and the feeling that hiding depression symptoms is the best option will only make the loneliness more intense. One of the most effective things you can say to someone in pain is, “You are not alone.”
The therapeutic process may help you find some insight into your depression symptoms and allow you to explore and personalize coping skills for your needs. A gift of therapy is the opportunity to gain a connection as your authentic self. There is no need to save the feelings of a helping professional. Your mother may be disappointed you did not take her advice, friends may not appreciate your decisions because it would leave them out of your plans, and sibling relationships may carry a certain amount of competitiveness that makes pure communication difficult. However, a healthy therapeutic relationship can remove those constraints and allow you to explore feelings of depression without worrying about upsetting those you love.
Depression symptoms can be overwhelming and it is important to know that you do not have to be alone. If you are interested in beginning the therapeutic process, please contact me with any questions or schedule an appointment. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, please call First Call For Help at 419-592-3577.