Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry
Some symptoms of depression, such as low mood and little energy, are better known than others. While stigma against such symptoms remains vigorous and rampant, it is important to remember that depression is different for each person who has it.
Depression is one word with two definitions. Most people, and this may be you, will never experience anything worse than the blues. A few days of feeling sad or heavy-hearted do not measure up to a diagnosis of major depression.
Serious mental illnesses like major depression have greater impact on a person’s ability to reason, concentrate, function, exercise self-care, and enjoy life. (See the link below for more information).
Here are 5 symptoms of major depression of which you may not be aware.
- Shame. Major Depression does not make us stupid. We can see clearly how our friends and family are negatively affected. Low productivity disappoints us too. We know how much we “should” accomplish and cannot. Stigma tells us we are failing at normalcy. Depression tells us we are worthless.
- Want to Care/Do Not Care. We may experience listlessness toward our wellbeing. Lack of basic self-care such as not eating or sleeping, non-compliance with treatment and not taking meds as prescribed, and even recklessness due to a recognized or unrecognized death wish may increase. At the same time, we want to be different from all that. Fighting against a powerful apathy hinders progress.
- Acting outside one’s values. Major depression does not change who we are. Neither does it erase personal responsibility for our actions. In our pain and desperation we may behave differently than we like and feel the shame of that. Sometimes fear of doing the wrong thing keeps us isolated.
- Trouble Thinking. Cognitive impairment can be embarrassing. I remember waking up one day not knowing how to spell. It passed, however during a major depressive episode our brains are malfunctioning. Struggling to concentrate during conversations, or experiencing no recall of well-intended promises are two examples of how affected our thinking can become.
- Anger. Great need can produce greater resentment when those needs are not met. We are generally aware that no one really wants to know how we feel when they ask. We know this because people walk away, tell us not to feel depressed, or try to fix our situation. Stigma is a powerful force preventing opportunity to vent or to receive non-judgmental love. This intensifies feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, shame, and sometimes anger.
Today’s Helpful Word
“Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy.”
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.
For a thorough description of types of depression, symptoms, treatment options, and more – visit the Depression page on the website of the National Institute for Mental Health