Everyone gets depressed at times. It’s like having cold, but instead of coughs and sneezes you have congested feelings. Just like you don’t have to have surgery for a cold unless something has gone terribly wrong; you don’t have to have shock treatments for depression unless something has gone terribly wrong.
The tricky part is that depression can begin to feed itself. The longer it goes on the more likely it is that you’ll get stuck in the cycle of sad thoughts, sad feelings and sad actions that lead to more sad thoughts.
Depression is one of the few words I dislike as a word. Just saying it makes one sag and pout. There are dozens of better, more specific ways to communicate levels of sadness. Here’s my scale:
Devastated: The top of the seriousness scale would be the urge to hurt yourself or others. If you feel like that, just call 911 or get to an emergency room. They are trained to help people who are tiptoeing toward the edge of a crisis too, not just the people who’ve already toppled over the edge. It can feel kind of ridiculous to just walk in and tell someone, “I’m the emergency.” But that’s exactly what you need to do. Everyone would rather spare you and those around you an actual emergency. Being in that state is temporary, but take it very seriously. Pick up the phone.
Despairing: Are you eating and sleeping? Bathing? If you can manage your own basic care you need to either get on that or get help with it. Eating (and bathing) can wait in a crisis, but your emotional flood is not going to be helped at all by sleeplessness. Missing sleep completely can make everything worse. Despair is where you might be headed if you are crying every day. Periods of despair are expected when we are suffering losses, but when it extends beyond a few days into weeks it’s time to ask for help. Antidepressants may be called for and there may be other ways to navigate out of your despair; it’s best to talk to a professional who knows all the short cuts if you are getting stuck in there.
Dejected: This is the more temporary version of despair. You might feel glum for any reason, but when you feel dejected and begin retreating from your usual activities, be careful. You may be giving your dejected mood a push toward despair. It might feel like it’s too much trouble to call a friend or get out and about, but fight through it if you can, and don’t allow yourself more than a day of cocooning in a dejected state. Get out in the sun and take some vitamin D.
When you are feeling even a little bit melancholy , everything seems more gray and lumpy. Try to remember that this is a distortion of reality, the world hasn’t really turned into leftover mashed potatoes.
It’s very uncomfortable, and people will rush to avoid morose and miserable moods by feeding those moods pills and ice cream and booze. Ice cream is not a depressant, so it’s a good start.
Actually, if ice cream doesn’t help, you may be dejected.
Just remember, you didn’t feel like this before and you will not always feel this mournful.
It will get better.
We love you.