As a writer, I’ve found creativity is one of the first things to be affected when my depression rears its ugly head. Depression makes it harder to motivate myself to write and harder to express my unique creative voice—the thing that brings me the most joy.
People often hide their depression well. We don’t want to worry our loved ones. We fear being judged and stigmatized—even now when mental illness is much better understood and accepted than in decades past. We may see our disease as a weakness, something that we need to tackle alone. Maybe we’re in denial, hiding our depression not only from others but from ourselves.
When someone dies by suicide, condolences pour in both online and offline. People grieve the loss of the deceased individual via statements like, "If only they had reached out to me before taking this step, I would have helped them." Unfortunately, this is untrue. It is trendy to pay lip service to mental health (or the lack thereof). Whether it's organizations or individuals, #MentalHealthMatters as long as it doesn't inconvenience anyone. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
Depression often makes me want to do nothing. Whether it's due to demotivation, apathy, fatigue, or despair, I only want to sleep as much as possible. When I know in my gut that I need the rest, I sleep and feel better the next day. But I usually fight the urge to do nothing because giving in to it makes my depression worse. This seems to be a common issue for depressives, and knowing my reasons may help you figure out yours.
Of late, life has become pretty humorless. I don't find anything funny; on the contrary, I cringe at jokes that get laughs out of most people. If others' jokes have this effect, it's a given that I cannot see the funny side of things myself. And to think I used to be a mischievous twentysomething. Well, my grim outlook and lack of a sense of humor are more a result of depression than a side effect of growing up.
It's no secret that depression can affect your behavior -- that it can cause you to do and say things you wouldn't ever otherwise do or say. But when should you hold yourself accountable for bad behavior? And to what extent does mental illness excuse bad behavior? What kind of allowances should we expect in times of poor mental health, and what kind of allowances should we be prepared to grant to others? When is depression simply not an excuse?
The title of this blog is "Coping with Depression." In the past, I've used it to talk about ways to feel productive, beat procrastination, and improve relationships during a depressive episode. But the reality is that some days, "coping" just means surviving through the worst days. So, in honor of World Suicide Prevention Month, I would like to offer some simple tips on how to get through when "getting through" seems impossible.
Depression relapses happen. This is a truth that everyone in depression recovery must accept. But not all relapses are created equal, and there are things you can do to mitigate or even pre-empt a relapse before it becomes a mental health crisis. The key is learning how to recognize the earliest symptoms of depression relapse and treating them with your very own mental health first aid kit before more serious intervention is required.
We're taught that playing make-believe is for children -- that as adults, our feet should be firmly rooted in reality. But when dealing with reality becomes too much to handle, a little foray into childish fantasy can be incredibly comforting and very beneficial for our mental health.
The iceberg theory is a frequently cited model of behavior which states that a person's behavior can only be properly understood in the context of the factors that caused it. What a person does is "the tip of the iceberg"-- what we don't see are the emotional, social, cultural, and other factors that lie beneath the surface and cause that behavior.