Depression the “Invisible Illness”

People are so quick to judge Robin Williams for his suicide, and others who have done the same.  Calling them cowards, or selfish.

Depression is very hard to understand if you have never been depressed.  Some people have had  days where they find themselves at a crossroads in their lives, unsure of what to do next in order to excel.  It feels a little overwhelming, and can easily bring you down.  There have been times when a loved one dies, and you are drowning in sadness.  You feel like there is nothing that will ever ease that pain.

I won’t stomp on those feelings, but they are not depression.  People like to say that they’re depressed.  Depression is easily confused with grief or frustration.  They both make you feel bad/sad.  Unless you’ve suffered from it first hand, then you realize that they are nothing alike at all.  Depression is an illness.  It’s a problem that won’t just “go away”.  Not even over time.

Depression is when you’re walking into work on a sunny day, and you’re observing the beautiful blue sky, but you feel nothing.  In fact you feel a little resentful.  You begin to realize that you are going to be sitting in at your desk for the next 8 hours, on sunny days like this for the next 10-20 years at some job or another.  A heavy weight pushes down inside you, realizing this thought.  What is the point?  What is the point of all of this?  Why do we spend all of our time here on this Earth doing things that we don’t want to do, just so that we can spend a few hours in our apartment/home or eat at a nice restaurant?  And in thinking those thoughts, you realize that there is no point.  That you might as well be dead.

Depression is remembering that you used to love going to the park on the weekend.  That you used to love to paint.  But now, you see nothing on a happy, sunny day.  The canvas is blank, and no images form in your mind.  Your brain is an empty space of nothingness that wants to do nothing.

Depression is being a famous actor, known for bringing comedy gold into our households.  Making everyone smile, but having no one really know your secret demons.  Depression is facing addiction, and struggling to escape its gnarled grasp.

Depression is feeling unloved, or unwanted by your family.  Depression is feeling like a failure over and over again.  Depression is watching a car drive by yours on your commute home from work, and internally wishing that they might crash into you.

Depression is hoping that you don’t wake up tomorrow morning, and when you do, barely having the strength to pull yourself out of bed.

Depression is painful, not only mentally but physically.  Your entire body aches, and you are overcome with fatigue.

I’ve suffered from depression my entire life since I was a teen.  For some of us, it’s ingrained in our genes.  For others, its brought on by an event that just won’t let us be.

Depression makes other people feel uncomfortable.  People like to pretend that depression is something that you can overpower if you have the determination.  That if you pretend that it isn’t there, then it will just go away.  Or that if you’ll just “try” and be happy, then you eventually will be.

Depression is a series of physical/psychological problems within a persons body.

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Some choose to treat their depression with medication.  Some choose therapy.  Some need that medication in order to even handle therapy.

I am of the personal belief that medication only masks the symptoms, and that in order to help you cope with (notice I didn’t say overcome) your depression, you need to take part in therapy as well.  I feel like therapy is really the only way to get to the root of the problems that you’re dealing with.  A therapist will tell you how to manage your symptoms, and how to recognize them when they appear.  They will give you the tools to help you pull yourself from that deep hole, and find a way to eventually be happy.

Anytime someone knocks therapy, saying something along these lines, I want to smack them upside the head for their ignorance:

“I don’t need anyone to pscyho-analyze me!”

“I am NOT going to see a shrink!”

“I just need to be left alone.  I don’t need any help!”

Sorry folks, but depression is something you just CAN’T do alone.  The only reason I am alive today is because of my therapist and my network of people who care about me.  I can say with honesty that had I not had friends and family push me into therapy during college, I would be dead.

That might sound dramatic, but it is the honest truth and I am not ashamed to admit it.  I am smart enough to know now that I have a disease, and that I will deal with it my entire life.  I can be happy today because I went to therapy, and learned the tools I desperately needed to survive.  I know how to handle my symptoms without the use of medication because I know what is causing them now.  I know now what brings on my depression, and I also have close family and friends who refuse to let me wallow.  But sometimes, even with family and friends it doesn’t help.

Don’t be so quick to judge those who choose the suicide route.  Yes, you have every right to be furious with them.  Yes, you have every right to be sad.

But you weren’t living their life.  You didn’t know the thoughts they were thinking.  You didn’t have to deal with their personal struggles every day.  Don’t call them cowards.  It is their life.  They are the only ones who have to live that life.  Not you.  Don’t get me wrong, I do not condone suicide.  I am just not so quick to judge having been through depression myself.

I like to say that everyone has a different breaking point.  Some people crumble at the smallest things, and others take enormous loads of stress before they finally crack.  Everyone is different.  What might seem like the end of the world to you, might be a “been there, done that” situation for someone else.  Over time, your breaking point with grow with experience.

When you are in that place, everything around you is like a creeping black void of nothing.  It is like you’re on the edge of a cliff, and a dark monster is grabbing you by the heels, dragging you down.  It would be much easier to just let go and free fall straight into the bottom.

If you’re reading this, and don’t understand it, then try to realize now that you cannot fathom what depression feels like.  And thus, have no place to judge those that do.  Make a conscious effort to be kind and compassionate for the suffering of others.  BE that person who will try and make a difference in a persons life who you know is suffering.

If you know someone who is suffering from depression, I ask you to do the following things.

1.  Talk to them.  Let them know that you are there to listen if they need you.

2.  Offer to help them get help.

3.  Actually listen if they offer up their feelings.

4.  Be attentive, and take any threats they make against themselves seriously.  Even if it sounds like they are joking.

5.  If your friend is threatening suicide, call the police to intervene.  Or talk to their family to have an intervention before anything drastic happens.

6.  NEVER try to play down their feelings, act like they’re crazy, or that they can just get through this on their own.

Keep in mind that those who are depressed enough to hurt themselves will not likely tell you.  Those that cut themselves or do things that seem to beg for attention are crying out for your help.  Take this just as seriously.

Depression isn’t a disease that just “goes away”, but you can help someone suffering know that they’re not alone.

Will you be that person?  Or will you choose to be the jerk that judges those that are truly suffering.  If you suffer from depression, I seriously hope you aren’t judgmental.  Just because you survived, doesn’t mean that everyone is as strong as you.

Depression isn’t weakness.  Eventually people will realize that.

Robin Williams, rest in peace.  I’m going to miss the laughs.

Gift_Aladdin

 

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Facebook Intervention

Facebook is a huge part of our lives.  But sometimes, too much of a good thing can piss off all of your Facebook friends.

Do you need a Facebook intervention?  If you meet ANY of these signs, then yes.  Yes, you do.  I promise.  It’s not me.  It’s you.  And I’ve found some delightfully snarky SomeEcards to help me illustrate my point!

1.  You are the Mayor of every place you frequent.  You check in to every single location that you pass, because heaven forbid your Facebook friends not know where you are every second of the day!  We do not need to know when you are picking up your inhaler at Walgreens.  I miss that time before cell phones where you just had to wonder where people were!

Clarification:  occasionally checking into a place is fine!  Moderation people.              Moderation…

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2.  Your posts are extremely predictable.  If I can list on one hand a range of topics your post is about to cover before I even look at it, then it’s a sign that you post too damn much.  If your going to cover my entire news feed, at least make it interesting.

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3.  You’re that person who is constantly posting about drinking wine.

Posting that you’re drinking wine again multiple times a week doesn’t make you look chill or relaxed.  It makes you look like an alcoholic.  Go ahead and swap out the word wine with vodka.  Or Jack.  Or even beer.  Now your posts make you look like a lush!

Disclaimer:  If you drink wine as a hobby this does not apply.  (What qualifies as drinking wine as a hobby:  Going to a wine tasting facility.  Purposefully buying wine to pair it with certain foods.)  If you’re drinking copious amounts wine every day JUST to drink wine…then yeah…

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4.  You air your dirty laundry on Facebook.  If we’re not close enough in person for me to know what’s going on in your personal life, then I don’t need to know about it.  The following topics are inappropriate to post in a public forum:

-The fight you’re having with your significant other
-The details of your nasty divorce
-How much you hate your in-laws
-The fight you’re having with your friend
-Or any drama in general regarding anyone else who also has aFacebook

If you want to talk about those things, send that person a private message PLEASE!   Posting that your husband is an arrogant asshole on your Facebook wall, knowing full well that he has a Facebook too, is the same as screaming it at him from down the street!  It looks equally as tacky and turns your Facebook wall into an episode of Jerry Springer.

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5.  When you go on vacation, and so do all of your Facebook friends because you can’t stop posting about it on Facebook.  We’re happy for you that you got to get away, but posting a photo every hour only serves to piss off your friends.  Take it from our perspective.  Here are the reactions I’ve gone through during such a scenario (Names have been changed of course):

Reaction to post number 1:  “Oh how nice that Mary got to go to Italy!  I hear it’s beautiful there.”
Reaction to post number 2:  “Lucky, Mary’s getting to drink wine in Italy.”
Reaction to post number 3:  “I wish I could go to Italy…”
Reaction to post number 4:  “Geez Mary!  Why don’t you actually take some time to, I dunno…ENJOY your vacation instead of telling me about it.”
Reaction to post number 5:  “Mary is a bitch.  She needs to stop rubbing it in our faces that she’s in Italy and we’re not.”
Reaction to post number 6:  “Where the hell is that hide posts from this person option…”

See?  We could have just stopped at post number 2, and Mary could have created a nice little album instead of covering my ENTIRE NEWS FEED with freakin Italy.

Also, to point out another important issue regarding vacations.  It’s not a great idea to tell the Facebook world that you’re not going to be in your house for the next several days.  Just sayin.  It’s like you’re asking to be robbed.

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6.  You post so much about your child that it’s like we live with you.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m ALL about posting photos of the little ones.  I don’t have any kids yet but I get it.  If I made a life, I would be like “OMG!  I made this!  Look how adorable it is!”  For real.  I totally understand proud parents showing the Facebook world their offspring.  For some people it’s the only way grandparents or other relatives get to see the kiddos.  I UNDERSTAND THIS.  Please don’t shoot me lots of angry emails, defensive mother friends of mine.

That’s not what I’m talking about.

You need a Facebook intervention if you’re posting multiple photos of your child, several times a week, making various, only slightly different faces.  I have literally come home to just endless photos of the same baby all down my news feed, and no matter how long I scroll, it won’t go away…  Sometimes there are so many of the same kid that it’s like watching a stop motion video.  It’s like I’m THERE!

Again with the albums.  Much easier to take lots of photos, pick the ones you want, upload them to an album, and then post the album.  That way, the people who actually want to see your baby photos have the opportunity to view them.  Otherwise it’s like you’re literally shoving your baby’s face into all of our faces.

So I’m all for your pumpkin patch photo!  I want to see those Christmas and Easter dresses!  You’re kid did something adorable?  Show me!  Bring it on!  No, I don’t want to see 10 consecutive pictures of your baby with spit up on his chin.  Sorry…

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7.   You gym braggers.  I get it.  You work hard for your body and you’re pretty proud of it.  Just like mommies are proud of their babies!  I get this.  But at some point, sharing your Fitbit info for the 50th day in a row, or how many minutes you tracked on the treadmill every single day gets old.  It’s not that we don’t care.  Okay fine.  We don’t actually care.  That’s something that your calorie tracker and fitnesspal cares about.  If you need to tell an actual person, tell your gym instructor!  Or your personal trainer.  Tell a friend that you work out with.  When you track your health it’s call SELF awareness.  Not “all of Facebook awareness”.

Clarification.  If you post occasionally to show some progress, no problem.  Some people are on a weight loss journey, and I’m here to root you on!  But some of you were born hot, with the metabolism of a cheetah and just work out to be hotter.  I don’t wanna see your washboard abs every single week.  At that point, you’re just boasting to boast.  You’re not encouraging other girls to get skinny.  If they’re anything like me, you’re making them go hunt down their secret “period-stash” of chocolate.

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8.  You like to post attention seeking status’.  The kind where you don’t actually say what’s going on, but imply that there’s obviously something going on.  The kind where you’re just ASKING people to comment wanting to know an answer.  Examples:

“FML”
“Worst.  Day.  Ever.”
“I just got great news!”
“So excited!”
“So pissed.”
“Just pray for me.”
“Some people are assholes.”

Listen, if you’re having a bad day and you want to talk about it, just SAY what happened!  If it’s something you can’t say out loud, then DON’T say anything at all.

When you post something like that, you OBVIOUSLY want someone to ask “What’s wrong?”  “What happened?”  “What’s the news?”  “Are you okay?”   Stop acting like you don’t want attention.  You’re not fooling anybody.

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9.  You political opinion shouters.  It’s bad enough that I have to suffer through heated debates all over my news feed during election year, but when you bring it on for the rest of the year every year until the next election is gets really old.  There are some of you who freak the f*ck out!

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You want gun control?  Fine!  Wanna hoard guns in your house?  I don’t care!  Want the government out of your life?  Cool.  Want more regulations?  Whatevs!

Know what I want?  I just want to scroll some Facebook and stalk my friends in peace.   😉

Yes, we have free speech and you are so free to say whatever you want because…well…MURICA.  But that doesn’t mean any of us want to hear about it for the millionth time.

If you really feel strongly about these issues, find a group that supports you and join it.  There are plenty on Facebook.  Go discuss your worries or ideals with like-minded people.   Stop covering my news feed with fear and anger.  Let’s chill out people.  Screaming out your rage in all caps isn’t going to change anything.  That’s what petitions and protests are for.

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10.  And lastly, you people who post while at work, post about your work, or post inappropriate things on your wall.  Don’t be an idiot!  You do realize that most jobs can see your Facebook too right?

If you get sick, don’t post all over Facebook, liking people’s statuses or playing Facebook games.  They have time stamps on them.  It’s a great way to get fired.  At least wait until the end of the day.

Same goes for posting about how much you hate your job.  Don’t talk crap about your boss, or brag how you’re not working either.

And getting seriously smashed and drunk Facebooking isn’t a great idea either.  When your next potential employer goes online to check you out, I’m pretty sure you’re not going to want them to see that photo where you took your top off because those fifteen shots of Yeager made you barf all over yourself.

Be smart people.  With the way technology is today, it’s more in your favor to take the “less is better” approach.

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If you see any of these signs and think it might be directed at you.  It probably is.  There are an awful lot of you.  I’d say I’m sorry if any of this offends you, but I’m not.

If you know you’re an offender, I’m not saying to stop Facebooking altogether.  I’m telling you to be more conscious about how often and what you post.  It’s like trying to filter your speech.  Think before you say anything.  Same deal.  Thinking before you type.  And if you thought about it, maybe read the text before you press the post button.  Try to be mindful and ask yourself the following questions:

“How many times have I posted today?”
“Am I at work?”
“Is this offensive?”
“Is this going to cause drama?”

Lastly, I will provide my intervention note to those of you who know this applies to you.

Dear Facebook Friend,

I remember when we were all just normal friends.  Everything was so simple.  You were so cool that I wanted us to become Facebook friends.

Now, I see your status updates and I don’t recognize you anymore.  I’m here today to tell you that I love you, but you have a problem.  Please get help.  I hope you will accept the help that is being offered today.  You can get treatment.  Just turn off your phone, walk away from your computer for a while and go outside!  Read a book or watch a movie.  Detox from Facebook, and things will get better.  I’ll be here for you, but if you can’t change your ways, then I can’t stay in this friendship.  I don’t want to, but I might just have to unfriend you.  I hope you get help.

Love,

Your Facebook Friend

 

 

 

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