In a previous post, I mentioned a website called http://www.wingofmadness.com, a site dedicated to educating and helping anyone who suffers from depression, or lives with someone who does. I recommend it.
I’d like to share a portion of one post from that website, entitled, “What Does Depression Feel Like?”:
Sometimes the Depression Self-Screening Tests are just too clinical, and the symptoms don’t really “click” with you. Some of the criteria are general, and if you’re suffering from depression, specifics are easier to understand.
I know that I might not have diagnosed myself with depression just on the basis of those symptoms. I had no change in appetite, and no sleep problems (getting out of bed was what was difficult). Below are some un-clinical symptoms.
Things just seem “off” or “wrong.”
You don’t feel hopeful or happy about anything in your life.
You’re crying a lot for no apparent reason, either at nothing, or something that normally would be insignificant.
You feel like you’re moving (and thinking) in slow motion.
Getting up in the morning requires a lot of effort.
Carrying on a normal conversation is a struggle. You can’t seem to express yourself.
You’re having trouble making simple decisions.
Your friends and family really irritate you.
You’re not sure if you still love your spouse/significant other.
Smiling feels stiff and awkward. It’s like your smiling muscles are frozen.
It seems like there’s a glass wall between you and the rest of the world.
You’re forgetful, and it’s very difficult to concentrate on anything.
You’re anxious and worried a lot.
Everything seems hopeless.
You feel like you can’t do anything right.
You have recurring thoughts of death and/or suicidal impulses. Suicide seems like a welcome relief.
You have a feeling of impending doom – you think something bad is going to happen, although you may not be sure what, and/or…
…You have a very specific fear that torments you constantly.
In your perception of the world around you, it’s always cloudy. Even on sunny days, it seems cloudy and gray.
You feel as though you’re drowning or suffocating.
You’re agitated, jumpy and and anxious much of the time.
Your senses seem dulled; food tastes bland and uninteresting, music doesn’t seem to affect you, you don’t bother smelling flowers anymore.
Incessantly and uncontrollably into your mind comes the memory of every failure, every bad or uncomfortable experience, interview or date, like a torrent of negativity.
Trust me; I can check several of those boxes, as, I’m sure, many other people with depression can.
Now, gentlemen, for you I offer the following, from a post on the same site called, “Men and Depression”:
In the last few years, attitudes have begun to change about the prevalance of depression in men with the advent of some new ideas. The mental health community is beginning to use these to challenge the long-standing beliefs about men and depression.
The most important new idea, in my mind, is that depression actually manifests itself differently in men than in women. While women tend to exhibit the classic symptoms of sadness and loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, men tend to more frequently exhibit less classic symptoms like anger, irritability and abuse of alcohol.
(My therapist told me that 13 years ago. Guess she was ahead of her time.)
Now, I haven’t resorted to alcohol abuse, but I sure have the anger and irritability down good. And I’m willing to bet, so do a lot of you guys. Look at that list up there, again. Do you identify with any of those symptoms?
I remember an incident a few years ago, when I let my depression medication run out, for several days. By that weekend, I had a fuse so short as to be almost nonexistent. I couldn’t get that prescription refilled soon enough.
Understand two things: To have depression does NOT mean you’re crazy, and it does NOT mean you’re weak.
It’s due to a chemical imbalance in your brain, and it can be treated medically.
Not that a few sessions with a psychiatrist couldn’t help. I had five years worth of them, myself. I just think that alone, in most cases, is not adequate.
Now, keep in mind, I’m not telling you this as a medical professional, because I promise you, I ain’t one. I’m simply sharing some of what I’ve learned in the course of dealing with this illness. My purpose here, primarily for the guys, is to destigmatize depression. YES, it is a mental illness. (And it’s time to destigmatize that, too, but that’s a whole other discussion.) YES, you can get help.
NO, it’s not a sign of weakness, either to have it, or to ask for help.
Why am I focusing on the men so much? Because men are less likely to seek help for depression than women, and more likely to commit suicide.
Again, from “Men and Depression”:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) men are four times more likely than women to die from suicide; it’s the eighth leading cause of death for men in the U.S. (emphasis mine)
That is a statistical fact. And it doesn’t have to be.
Ladies, I know it’s serious stuff with you, too. But, fellas, this is a Red Alert.
For yourself, your family, your friends, your job, please, get some help. It’s available.
And there’s NO shame in it.
I wish you all well.