It's Like Drowning

Last night I watched
a few minutes of an entertainment show on TV where they talked with Alanis Morissette as well as showed clips from her career. I have a great deal of respect for this artist's honesty and this interview was no exception.

The first question they asked right at the start was, "How are you doing?"  She smiled and answered not well at this moment.  That led right into a discussion of post-partum depression, something she has struggled with after the birth of all three of her kids, and was still in the midst of. She talked about the balance of trying not to let her struggle affect her kids, but also trying not to always have a big fake smile on. It wasn't easy.

Anxiety & Depression by
Ninangame on Deviant Art
The conversation moved on from there, but I couldn't get it out of my mind. I was in my 20's before I understood depression could be more than just feeling down and sad. We all struggle at times with those dark moments, especially if we've had a difficult childhood or suffered a traumatic experience. It's not easy to walk through, but we can usually find light at the end of the tunnel.

There is another side to depression - clinical depression - that is very organic in nature and can be insidious in how it affects someone's life. In my 20's I was so very ignorant. I had a dance friend that got sad at every event we attended. So when she called about us going to the next one, I commented on how unhappy they seemed to make her and asked if she might want to skip this one. She hung up. I was shocked and assumed I lost a friend. In fact we didn't speak for a year.

When we finally ran into each other, I was relieved to get a hug and an honest moment of conversation. That phone call a year before came just as she was bottoming out - a moment of reckoning where she realized she needed to reach out for medical help. What she discovered was she was suffering from clinical depression. It took a year of drug treatment and therapy to help her find her way back. She moved on from that year to find love, marry and continue a career that she enjoyed. Thinking back, I still feel some guilt. If I had only known and understood, perhaps I could have eased her journey in some small way.

I learned from that experience. 
When someone tells me they struggle with depression and/or anxiety, I try to make no assumptions about its cause or solution.  It's not my business, nor is it something I have any expertise in at all. It could have an emotional basis or it could be organic in nature.  All I can do is listen and try to understand their suffering, to reassure them there nothing to be ashamed of and, if they aren't already, encourage them to work with a professional.  

What someone experiencing depression doesn't need is judgement or "advice" - think positive, think about the good things in your life, pull yourself together, get more exercise, eat this way, take this supplement. They first need see someone who specializes in depression so they can learn what kind of depression they are dealing, and then learn what is recommended to help them in their journey to a better place. While they work to heal, they need simply our loving support offered with out judgement.

I was looking for
some quotes that helped describe what depression feels like and found several listed on along with a professional response. The quotes below are excepts. You can check out the full article as well as the responses HERE!   
  • "It’s like drowning, except everyone around you is breathing.”
  • “When you’re depressed you don’t control your thoughts, your thoughts control you."
  • “Depression is feeling like you’ve lost something but having no clue when or where you last had it. Then one day you realize what you lost is yourself.”
  • “My lips say, ‘Fine, thanks,‘ but my eyes tell a different story, my heart sings a different tune, and my soul just weeps.”
  • "Depression is the constant feeling of being numb. Being numb to emotions, being numb to life."
  • "Depression is so insidious—and it compounds daily—making it impossible to ever see the end. That fog is like a cage without a key.”
  • "‘I’m tired‘ means a permanent state of exhaustion that sleep doesn’t fix. Sleep just isn’t sleep anymore—it’s escape.”
  • “The only thing more exhausting than being depressed is pretending that you’re not.”
  • “Having anxiety and depression is like being scared and tired at the same time. It’s the fear of failure, coupled with no urge to be productive. It’s wanting friends but hating socializing. It’s wanting to be alone but not wanting to be lonely. It’s feeling everything at once, yet being paralyzingly numb.”
  • "They ask, “\'How are you doing?' But what they mean is, 'Are you over it yet?'"

If you are reading this
and finding it rings a bell, just know you are not alone. There are many others going through what you're going through. I encourage you to talk to your doctor, get that referral, and know that there is help awaiting. 

= = = =

From the Healthlink BC website - 

Emotional support, information and resources specific to mental health are available from Mental Health Support offered by the Crisis Lines Association of British Columbia by calling 310-6789. You may also visit BC Mental Health & Addiction Services or HereToHelp for additional resources and services. Children and teens can also call the Kids Help Phone to speak to a counsellor at 1-800-668-6868 or visit Kids Help Phone for information on the resources and support available.

Suicide assessment and intervention are available from Crisis Lines across British Columbia by calling the Crisis Line Association of British Columbia at 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE). For more places to get help, visit Crisis Centre – Get Help. If you are in an emergency, call 9-1-1.