Understanding Depression by @pjtlynch

One of the most difficult things about being depressed is being able to even understand what it is. Depression means you’re sad, right? So the first thing you do, or the first thing you do if a loved one is depressed, is to search for the cause. What is causing this depression? Let’s find that, fix it, and all will be well.

But what if there isn’t a reason? What if your life, at least on paper, seems great? What do you have to be sad about?

The problem is that, in many cases, depression isn’t caused by being really sad about stuff. Being sad is a symptom of the depression.

This, I find, is the crux of what it means to be depressed, and the difficulty of it. It’s very difficult to describe to people who haven’t experienced it. It doesn’t seem to make sense.

But maybe there’s a way.

Imagine you’re a normal person, one who wakes up after the sun is up, maybe 8am, or 10 am, or even later depending on your situation. So then a day comes you have to get up unnaturally early for a flight, like 5 am. It’s weird, you’re exhausted, the world is dark, but you get up because, hey, you have to.

Now imagine that happening every day. It doesn’t matter if you’ve slept 6, 8, 12, 14 hours, you wake up feeling like it’s 5 am and you’re trying to catch an unnaturally early flight. Ok, that sucks, but in a few hours you should adjust, right?

Except you don’t. No matter how bright the sun gets, how much much fun things are, how many happy people surround you, it’s 5am and you should be in bed getting more hours of sleep. This is depression. 

Sometimes it makes you sad. Sometimes mad. But mostly numb. Because you just need to get through that weird feeling until things get back normal, right? Normal feels just a short bit away.

And that’s the rub. For the most part, being depressed doesn’t feel far off from normal. It feels like you can still get there, get out of the fog, on your own. But you can’t. If you ever want to get past 5am, you need help.

But the hardest part, at least a first, is knowing you even need that.

So if you’re the friend, or the loved one, know that the one you care about isn’t too far off to reach. They’re just a hand’s reach away.

And if you’re the depressed person, know that the fog is real, but it’s just a fog. If you take a couple steps forward, you might find a hand, or two or three, right there waiting to guide you home. 

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