Depression is one of those things that sounds like it should be easy to describe. Everybody knows what it’s like to have a low mood. The problem is that it runs a lot deeper than that.
The low moods themselves are the easiest part to explain, the fact that they can stick around for a long time or that they don’t always have a good reason to show up in the first place gets harder. A mood that may or may not have a trigger (and may or may not clear up once a trigger is removed) is harder to explain. Then there are other, odder, aspects like sometimes having a low-level persistent feeling of sadness that is there even when the rest of you is happy about something.
For me, the worst thing is the feeling of inertia. It’s not even necessarily tiredness, or a lack of energy. It’s just no desire or ability to move, or to do anything, or even really to be anything. At its mildest, I find it manifests as a desire to stay where I am and settle in there without having to engage any further with the world. At its worst, I can be lying in bed, or sat in a chair, unable to really move from where I am or even do that much from that position. I’ll get up to go to the bathroom, maybe get up to grab a drink or a snack, but not much else really.
Unlike last time, where the lowest parts of my depression were during long periods of unemployment, this time around I am currently holding down a full-time job. Depression and inertia really don’t play very well with a job, let me tell you.
If you’ve spent any time around people with mental health issues, you may well have come across people semi-humourously referring to them being totally proud of getting out of bed. Or venturing out of the house. Or any one of many other day-to-day activities that most people take for granted.
It’s serious, though. For some of us, on some days, it really takes a great deal of effort to just get up, out and about. Getting places earlier or faster may be nice but getting places at all is almost miraculous some days. There are definitely days where I genuinely have no idea how I managed to overcome it to get out of the house.
To sum it all up, though, depression is hard. It’s hard to see. It’s hard to explain. It’s hard to live with.
The worst part, though, is that it is hard to understand. Many people I talk to just don’t get it. The only way to really understand it, though, is to live through it. And that is a higher cost of understanding than I would wish on anyone.
And this, basically, is why I am open about my mental health issues and believe in reducing the stigma. People may not always understand it but I do think that being able to be more open about it is good for everyone in the long run.