16 Aug 4 Things People Get Wrong About Depression
Ten years ago, I sat down on a couch and a therapist told me I had this thing called depression. I had heard about it before, but I was only twelve at the time. So like many people, I didn’t believe him. How could he possibly know enough about me to tell me that I’m sad all the time?
Four years later, I fell to the ground and experienced my first panic attack. It was then that I realized how right he was. I didn’t know what to do at first, so I started researching and found out that I didn’t know the first thing about depression. This is common. Because depression is understandably an uncomfortable topic to address.
Even as it continues to enter our national discussion, there is still so much misinformation surrounding the subject. So, from a person who copes with these issues, here are a few things that I have found people often get wrong about depression.
“How are you depressed? You never seem that sad.”
While being sad can be a major symptom of depression, it does not mean that you don’t have depression just because you don’t feel chronically sad. In fact, other symptoms include things like difficulty concentrating, sitting still or experiencing feelings of guilt and worthlessness.
When I’m at my worst, it’s like a fog comes over me and I have trouble remembering even the most basic information. Though if you asked my loved ones if I looked sad, they likely would have told you no. This is a confusing thing for a lot of people because we’ve grown accustomed to the idea that a depressed person is sad as though they are always heartbroken, but it really comes when a person feels like they are struggling to get through the day.
“No way I’m going on meds. They mess you up bad.”
I’ve spoken to many people who have recognized their disorders and fear the supposedly disastrous results that they think may come with taking medication for it. Sadly, they don’t realize that – when medication works – doesn’t turn you into a “Zoloft-Zombie” or cause you to view the world in an entirely different light than when you were unmedicated.
I’ve been on two medications in my life: one that worked and one that didn’t. When it worked, I hardly felt a difference, but noticed I had more of a drive to do things. When it didn’t, I hardly felt a difference, but noticed I had less of a drive to do things. Finding the right medication that works for you is simply part of the process – and when you finally find the one that fits, you’ll be surprised by how much your symptoms improve.
“I can’t go to the hospital. I’m not crazy”
Here’s the hard part to talk about: I was hospitalized when I was a teen. I knew I needed more help than I had, so I voluntarily committed myself. I consider getting to the hospital the moment I saved my own life. I’ve found that other people often think that going to the hospital means losing everything. But my life has only seen positive changes since.
The hospital was much different than I had expected. I was surrounded by kids like me who talked sports and laughed and cried. And the therapists were nothing but wonderful people and incredibly knowledgeable about the issues that we were all dealing with.
“You’ll be happier once the depression Is gone.”
When people hear you have depression, they may say something along the lines of “get over it.” Personally, I wish it were that simple. It’s entirely possible to get through the worst of it and still be depressed. And when you feel low again, you haven’t slipped up or backtracked or lost any of the progress you made getting better, but you now have the knowledge to make it easier.
The key is to make your goal to be happy. If you strive to make yourself happy, it becomes easier to recognize and get out of a funk, and if not there will always be someone you can reach out to who is ready to talk, no matter how much you’ve convinced yourself otherwise.
“You’ll never beat this.”
This one isn’t something that only other people get wrong about depression. This is something that we – as depressed people – get wrong about depression. When you’re low, it’s so easy to think that you’ll never get back up. That this is your life and you’d better get used to it. That’s how I thought for years. But now my life is worth living. Because of my struggles, I’m more prepared for the lows when they strike. I know that while those feelings are a part of life, I can still be my best self despite my depression.
You can too.
If you ever feel like you’ve gotten to the point where you can’t go on, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. They helped save my life. They’ll help you too.