By: Lyle Whatchamacallit
Depression and Anxiety is more than just feeling unhappy or fed up. Depression and Anxiety affects people in different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms. For people living with depression and anxiety it can be difficult for the people that are close to them to understand.
Through my experience of living with depression, this is what I think is important for people to know and try to understand:
1. We can't just snap out of it
This can be frustrating to hear, and it shows that the person you're speaking to really doesn't understand how you're feeling. You can't just snap out of depression and anxiety - it’s impossible. I'd describe depression and anxiety as feeling like drowning - no matter how hard you try to fight back it overpowers you and there's nothing you can do about it. Depression and anxiety feels like a constant battle and it's exhausting.
2. We don't always have a reason as to why we’re feeling depressed and anxious
This is something I've noticed others find hard to understand. To someone who hasn't ever experienced depression or anxiety it can be easy to assume that it's caused by an event in someone's life. Depression and anxiety can be triggered by life events such as bereavement or losing your job for example or as simple as finding something out that you don’t like, but there doesn't always have to be a reason as to why someone is depressed or anxious. Depression and anxiety can affect anyone and it's an illness. I used to find that before people were understanding about my depression they used to expect there to be a reason as to why I was feeling low and having a bad day when there wasn't a reason and I couldn't explain why I felt the way I was feeling.
3. I don't want to hurt you
For friends and family it can be hard to watch someone you love suffer from depression, and it can be difficult to understand how to help and what to do. Depression and anxiety is a very selfish illness and I find that often we can push people away in order to protect them. With depression and anxiety there is also feelings of guilt and fear of letting people down. We may take things personally or say something that is horrible but we don't mean it. It can be hard to love and care for someone with depression but standing by someone and showing them unconditional love and care is one of the best things you can ever do for us.
4. Depression and being sad are not the same thing
Depression and sadness mean two different things. Sadness is a normal emotion and if something bad was to happen then you may feel sad, but that sadness will lift after a few days. However, depression is a persistent sadness - it can last for weeks, months or even years. It can affect you in various ways such as changing your personality, interests and the way you see the future.
5. Depression isn't a choice, Anxiety on the other hand is a feeling we can’t control
We don't choose to be depressed, alternately we don’t feeI anxious by choice. It can affect various things in your life such as relationships, work and our life in general. We don't choose to have a low mood all the time and find everything an effort. Depression and anxiety is out of our control we can't do anything to stop it from happening to us. We aren't weak because we have depression or anxiety.
6. We can feel like a burden and that we’re too much to deal with
Depression can cause us to feel like an inconvenience to others, leading us to become feeling anxious and isolated and finding it difficult to talk to others. We can sometimes feel that we're too much to deal with and that we’re bringing others down. When feeling low we can avoid other people in order to hide how we feel from our family and friends. This is when friends and family need to be compassionate and reassure their loved ones that they're not a burden to them. By letting us know that we can talk to you about how we are feeling, we can gain a sense of safety and support around us.
7. Achievements that you see as small are big to me
Achieving goals that we set for ourselves makes us feel proud. Other people's goals may be to get high grades or get a job but sometimes just getting out of bed or talking to someone about how you're feeling is an achievement for us. Be proud of us when we achieve these goals. These achievements bring us a step closer to recovery and some day we will be able to achieve bigger things, but for now it's about putting one foot in front of the other and achieving little things to give us that sense of accomplishment.
8. We can still have some good days
We aren't always having bad days we can still have a good days. We can still have days that are hard but we can also have days when we feel okay and are able to do things. People think that depression and anxiety is all about having bad days. Truth is, moods fluctuate quite a lot and on good days we can feel like we are in control and that we can achieve something.
Depression is a mixture of good and bad days.
9. We appreciate your kind words and how you're trying to help
It can be hard to know what to say and what to do to help. Sometimes offering some kind words can be helpful and we may not seem like we appreciate it but we really do. It can be hard for us to show feelings of gratefulness but the kindness shown really does mean a lot to us. Just don’t say the wrong ones you might just end up making us more anxious and depress.
10. We’re trying our best to get through it
Depression and anxiety is something that we have to go through. I've learned that recovery or feeling better isn't something you choose once - you have to choose it over and over again. We can't just let go and ignore depression and anxiety. If we have to use therapy and/or medication as a way of working through our depression please do stand by us. There's no shame in asking for help. Depression can make us feel isolated and lonely and having someone by our side can make us feel less alone…