25 Oct Symptoms I Recognized That Signaled I Was Suffering From Depression
In this series of blogs, we explore the realities of anxiety and depression through the lens of real-world first-person narratives from anonymous teens. What else can we learn about these issues? How can we work to overcome them together? Let’s talk about it.
Unlike physical health, mental health doesn’t always have easily recognizable symptoms like casts, splints, bruises, or aches to help you realize that you’re in pain. If your leg breaks, you feel a distinct pain every time you put your weight on it. But when you’re dealing with depression, it’s a lot harder to figure out what exactly is going on.
In many cases, people only realize that they’re depressed after they’re already a few weeks into an episode. Chronic depression is only really recognizable two weeks into an episode – and even then you may not notice weeks, months, or even years later. So whenever I feel like I may be slipping into an episode, I always try to pay attention to a few specific things that typically signal I am.
Lack of/Too Much Sleep
When I’m depressed, my sleep schedule changes little by little. Before I know it, I don’t really have one anymore. Some days I can’t find it in myself to fall into a deep sleep, so I just lay around with my eyes closed for an hour or two. When I’m absolutely exhausted the next day, I’ll sleep for 10-12 hours and think it’s okay because I’m “just making up for lost sleep.”
The importance of sleep is just as much in consistency as it is 6-8 hours. If you sleep 4 hours one day and 10 hours the next, then technically you’re getting an average of 6-8. But you’re not giving yourself a routine to feel familiar with. If that happens too often, you’ll find yourself dealing more and more with…
Look, I’ve always been an upbeat person. I never normally found myself paying much attention to what other people do. Maybe I’d get frustrated in traffic or get angry at a video game, but generally I didn’t let much get to me. Then, out of nowhere, I started noticing that I was taking every little slight personally. I’d think about that person that almost bumped into me on the way to work. Or that person who didn’t say hello when I picked up the phone. When I started to unwind, I realized that I was still thinking about these random events and getting angry.
The aggression seems to act like a defense mechanism. I’ll react to anger in a way that ensures that I’m not hurt by someone being rude. Eventually, I just get too caught up in the feeling and emotion of rage. My obsession with anger helps me distract from what is really going on: depression. Then, if I don’t notice it in time, it turns into:
If you asked me to count my friends, I normally wouldn’t know where to end. I go out, I have hobbies, and I like sharing my experiences with other people. But then, I start to get busy. Next thing I know, I have a really long work week. And I know it’s Friday, but I really don’t feel like going out.
It can be really hard to be social. But when you find yourself taking too many breaks, you start to get the wrong idea of why you’re feeling so alone. You’ve put yourself away in your sanctum because your depression makes everything unbearably exhausting. Then when you finally go to hang out with someone again, it’s too hard because you haven’t seen them in weeks and your depression convinces you that if they didn’t reach out, they must not like you.
Normally, this should be the last straw before I realize what’s going on. But at the same time, this will be weeks into my depressive state. By then, I’ll already be dealing with the next signal:
Pop culture and movies like to tell you that depression is just being really sad – and if you stop being sad, you stop being depressed. But if you’ve ever been through an episode, you know what I’m talking about when I’m talking about the feeling of emptiness. It’s not even that you’re sad. You’re just exhausted. The headache you’ve had for weeks won’t go away and it’s too much effort to get emotional about it. By this point you’re just living your life because you’re on autopilot and coming home and getting upset or happy is just too tiring for what you’re dealing with. So how do you deal with it?
Luckily, you can stop yourself at any point along the map. Knowing what you’re battling and where to look for signs is a great way to get yourself back on your feet. Then, once you’re aware, find a mix of therapy, hobbies, dieting, exercise, or medication that help you get to a place where you are comfortable and moving on with your life in the right way.