I am depressed. I guess? At least that’s what the medical professionals have been saying and that is the reason I did psychotherapy for three years as well as multiple other methods of therapy. And the previous six months I’ve been in therapy for ‘challenging personality’, or OCPD, although that hasn’t been officially diagnosed.
“Depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or more.”
During all these extremely hard years, I’ve changed a lot. I view the world differently than I used to. Sometimes, occasionally, I might even be able to think that everything isn’t my fault. But then the moment passes. And nothing is gained. Nothing, but more failure.
And still, I don’t understand.
What is wrong with me?
I am a useless failure
Initial idea was to structure this post as ‘honest despair thoughts’ followed by ‘thoughts on how to understand them’. But I ended up writing so deeply about what I think it means to be depressed as well as on how to understand depression, that I decided to skip this part. Which was good.
Doesn’t change the fact though, that I live in a midst of failures. Or that’s what it feels like. I feel like I’ve failed at being a dad. I’ve failed at being a husband. I’ve failed at… well you get the point. It takes a lot of effort to see anything good. And that doesn’t last. Only the despair lasts. Only the depression lasts.
For sure there are good moments. There are moments when I feel like I can do something. I can accomplish something. But even if that moment leads to completing something, it won’t feel like a success. Even moments of success will eventually be useless failures. Or, that’s what it feels like.
What it means to be depressed
If you break a leg and can’t perform your basic duties as an employee, as a father, as a husband, as a child, as a brother and as a human being, no one judges you. If you feel depressed, or are diagnosed as depressed, everyone judges you. Now how much of that statement is actually true and quantifiable is irrelevant, because that’s what it feels like.
With the case of the broken leg, everyone can pretty much imagine how it feels. What the pain is like. How the injury affects daily life. But no one can imagine what depression is like. No one can imagine the pain. They can only guess, and most of the time, they can’t see the difference of actual depression, and someone just being lazy, useless and emotionless.
But what’s often overlooked, is that neither can I nor others with depression. We can’t imagine what being depressed is like either! Because it’s not like a broken leg. It’s a feeling. Or lack of feelings. Feeling of despair and hopelessness. Or feeling of total loneliness or maybe something entirely different. It changes from day to day, from hour to hour, from minute to minute.
What it means to be depressed, is that you are not in control of yourself. You can not trust your emotions. All you want, all you need, is someone to help. Someone to take away the pain. Someone to understand. And someone to say ‘It’ll be alright’. But no one will. Because no one can. Or, again, that’s what it feels like.
Depression is a cunning condition in a way that it does not only ail the victim but also everyone close to them. It could be a word said or it could be an action done. Just a small gesture that can ignite the feeling “Doesn’t they like me any more?”, “Do they resent us?”, “Oh how insensitive of them!”. When in truth none of that was intended. It might’ve been just one minute of despair that got reflected to those close by.
‘It’ll be alright’
So the one thing, the only thing, that everyone needs to understand with depression, is that things might happen and words might be said, that do not reflect the true nature of the depressed person. One needs to learn to say “It’s only depression talking”. One needs to learn to look deeper.
If I’d were to decline your invitation to something, don’t make any conclusions from it. Wipe it from your mind. And ask again tomorrow. That is the thin red line that must be walked. If not sure, ask. Never ever assume.
Luckily nowadays there are plenty of resources to help cope with depression and also help those collaterally affected by it. Look for your local support groups, ask from a medical professional or just search others in a similar situation. And even, ask from the depressed themselves if there’s anything you could do to help.
It will be hard. But more often than not, if you truly care, you’ll find a way. A way, to understand.