Depression: Recognizing it and What To Do
Smiling Through The Pain
As night falls, Carey stands in her closet trying to decide on what to wear. In just a couple of hours she would be in a room full of friends, family and other well wishers congratulating her on her latest and greatest achievement. She had finally reached her goal of becoming an associate in the highest rated law firm in Branson County. She had dreamed of this day and worked so hard and now it was here! This bright, shining moment was not the only envious aspect of her life. No, Carey was the girl everyone liked and wanted to be around. In fact, many people considered her a “bestie” because she had a pleasant smile, contagious laughter and an ability to put others at ease. Carey had a dream life-one that others would view as having every quality necessary to make a person happy.
Yet, as she stood alone in her closet debating on whether to wear the little black Vera Wang dress or go more casual in her Lucky jeans, an overwhelming emptiness overcame her as she melted into a heap on the floor, sobbing uncontrollably! She had moments like this; many more than anyone ever knew. She tried to do all the ‘right things’. She got an education, landed the dream job, lived in a reputable neighborhood, had the finest of things but she still could not fill the dark hole that remained deep inside that seemed to never go away.
An Empty Feeling Replaced By Self Hatred
At times this pit in her soul seemed to be attached to a voice in her head that even taunted her with thoughts of, “You’re nothing. You’ll never be good enough! No one really loves you, just what you can do for them. You are nothing, have nothing and will always be nothing!” As she tried to pull herself together, stretching and pulling to get herself up out of the floor, she stood upright and met herself face to face in the mirror on the closet door. Before she knew it, she heard a loud voice say, “and you’re ugly too”. Then she realized it was her own! "How could this be? Why do I not feel any better? After all I’ve done and all the work I’ve put toward making such a great life, I should feel great about it, about myself!" Yet, nothing had really changed on the inside. She never told anyone of the struggle she dealt with on a daily basis. “No one would understand. They’ll think I’m a freak or just not want to be around me because it will bring them all down. Then I’ll really be alone! No, you can handle this on your own! So, stop being so weak and get it together!” She told herself this while looking at herself in the mirror. She splashed some cold water on her face, pulled herself together, chose the Vera Wang and continued getting ready for her ‘big night’.
The Appearance Of A Perfect Life
Carey had such a perfect life. How could anything be so serious that would cause such a reaction seemingly out of the blue? The truth is, Carey had a secret. She had wounds from her past that had yet to heal, which were affecting her greatly as an adult. She came from a very strict upbringing and as hard as she tried she never felt completely accepted by her parents, especially her father. She was also a little on the heavy side as far as her weight for her age and height but was meticulous in all her endeavors and made all A’s and B’s in school. Yet, her father would never give her praise and took the ‘tough love’ approach in the thoughts that it would “make her stronger, better” and somehow show his love for her more. He was a very stoic man and did not know how to show affection. As a little girl, Carey would often be at a friends’ house and would watch her friends’ family interact with each other. Many times she would have to leave abruptly saying she suddenly felt nauseous and had to be excused. The reality of it was that she was so envious of the relationship she saw that it overwhelmed her as she burst into tears. “Why can’t that happen to me? Am I so bad that I don’t deserve that? What else do I need to do to be worthy of that kind of love?” These questions never really seemed to be answered and remained with her into adulthood. They are the same questions that would come flooding her mind as a sudden tidal wave from the depths of her soul just to leave her a sniveling mess in the middle of the floor! “I can’t let anyone see me like this! What would they think? Why am I being such a baby? I have everything-a life of which others only dream! No, I’m being silly and just need to get over it!” This is a form of coping she had developed and perfected over time, or so she thought. It worked to keep her going and others from ever knowing about her constant internal turmoil. The problem is that, as long as no one knew, then no one could help. This cycle left her alone with her pain and struggle, empty and lonely.
People put up pretty walls as a façade to hide their pain, guilt and shame. Pretty because these walls are adorn with smiles and sometimes even equipped with laughter, pretty clothes, pretty houses-pretty lives. People build these walls in order to divert attention from the disturbing and sometimes devastating reality of the lives that torment them to an alter existence they believe will be more easily accepted by others.
The Hidden Darkness
The above story was fictitious but sadly the situation happens everyday. This is known as depression and avoidance and can lead to serious consequences, self harm and even suicide if extreme enough. People going through this experience tend to not reach out for help and attempt to deal with it on their own as to not ‘bother’ others with their problems. Some even find a kind of comfort in their hidden darkness that would be quite disturbing to the rest of us. This is why it is so important to see the signs and symptoms of depression and act on your loved ones behalf.
Recognize The Symptoms & Warning Signs
Signs of Depression
• difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
• fatigue and decreased energy
• feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
• feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
• insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
• irritability, restlessness
• loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
• overeating or appetite loss
• persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
• persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
Warning signs of suicide with depression:
• a sudden switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
• always talking or thinking about death
• clinical depression (deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating) that gets worse
• having a "death wish," tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, like driving through red lights
• losing interest in things one used to care about
• making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
• putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
• saying things like "It would be better if I wasn't here" or "I want out"
• talking about suicide (killing one's self)
• visiting or calling people one cares about
Suspect A Problem? Seek Help ASAP!
To find help and treatment for you or someone you love call you primary care physician for evaluation or referral to a mental health professional. For help in crisis situations, call 911, local emergency room or the national suicide hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).
After the crisis, continued support is vital. Local support groups are available and routine counseling therapy is also very important. There is help. There is hope.
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