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Old 02-15-2018, 10:44 PM   #1 (permalink)
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But you donít seem depressed

For several months now I’ve been battling a serious depression. I’m not asking for sympathy, I know many here have and are suffering worse emotionally or physically.

I’m posting as sort of a PSA I guess. I want to talk about all the reactions or responses that seem to make my condition if not worse, at minimum make me reluctant to let people know what is happening with me. Who knows, maybe someone will read this and remember it when someone in their life is battling depression and avoid some of these pitfalls while trying to be supportive.

First thing I’ve learned is not to tell people you wish you were dead, or that you contemplate suicide. Professionals are fine, but friends and family? Awful. I’m sure they mean well when they begin to list all the reasons you have to live, or all the people who will suffer and be hurt if you die, but seriously? You think I’ve never considered the impact my suicide would have on my son? Why do you think I haven’t gone through with it? Thanks for adding guilt to my stew pot of emotional turmoil though. Yay you. I’m not really sure what a person is supposed to say, there is no one perfect response, but pay attention to the individuals reaction to your attempt at comfort and if it’s not helping, stop.

My next caution is, as the title suggests, doubting someone who tells you they are depressed. Sure there are some common signs, but everyone is unique. My depression looks more like a rich fulfilling life apparently. The truth is I only have one goal, to keep as busy as possible so there isn’t a spare moment to think. I genuinely fear if I stop and think I will start to feel, and if I start to feel I will cry, and if I start to cry I’ll never stop. So yes, getting up at 5 am to walk the dog, going to work early, making new recipes for dinner, volunteering and taking courses, stoping in at three grocery stores to catch the best sales, then baking muffins at 11 pm may not look like depression. I agree. Which is why I don’t talk about it. I don’t want to have to pass some arbitrary test or bar. So if someone in your life does work up the courage to tell you they are depressed, believe them. There are many places the conversation can go from there, but dismissing it guarantees they will be more reluctant to get help. If they can’t talk about it, they withdraw which will make it worse.

I could rant another 5000 words, but those are the 2 burning the roof of my mouth right now.
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Old 02-15-2018, 11:38 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I can't speak to depression, but I have an oddly parallel situation with physical fatigue. Even doctors can think I must be healthy because while I'm sitting in the chair I "look" healthy. I pretty much have to be sure they've seen my medical history before I talk to them. Even then they tend to want to prescribe exercise and I tried it and my lungs just aren't there yet.

But I never smoked and didn't otherwise abuse myself physically, so I probably look a bit youngish compared to a lot of people my age. "You look healthy!" It isn't meant to be dismissive, but it is.

People are too attached to what they think they see and don't listen, sometimes. It can be hard to really know your truth in your gut when you aren't getting confirmation from the people you need or care about. But I found I have to stop and reaffirm that truth to myself to have momentum.
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Old 02-16-2018, 12:09 AM   #3 (permalink)
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What would you say to a treasured friend or family member that told you that they wanted to die and contemplated suicide often?

I'm not sure what you'd like people to say, but it'd pretty heavy when someone does so I imagine. I also imagine that their initial response would be to panic inside a little and spurt something out that they think is positive because they want to help?

Roles reversed, if you, not having any idea that depression was an issue here nor having much inkling about depression were told such by someone you care about. What would you say?

I don't think they're trying to make shit worse huh?
It's just how you're seeing stuff in the place that you're in?
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Old 02-16-2018, 12:20 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I agree Daisy, it’s all well intentioned.
As for what to say? There are no magic words, everyone is unique I imagine, but as I said it’s important to watch how that intended comfort is being received and be prepared to adjust the technique. Even a simple silent hug, or an offer to listen “talk to me” or a “what can I do?” inquiry might work better than a bootstrap or pep talks for some people.

I just wanted to draw attention to that point. That the action that feels good or right or normal or logical to the one doing it may not feel the same to someone in another head space so it’s really important to pay attention to how it’s being received. My reaction is to laugh a bit and say “You’re right. I’m just having a bad day and venting. Muffins?” And make a note never to bring it up again which is making me worse and no one knows.

ETA. Ultimately I don’t think it’s as important to say the right thing as it is to listen the right way.

Last edited by Pancake; 02-16-2018 at 12:29 AM.
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Old 02-16-2018, 12:30 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Would be nice wouldn't it? But often people we love are simply people we love and they love us back. They aren't thinking of adjusting how they respond. They are simply caring because that's all they know how to do.

I'm gonna PM you a name of someone I know know's how to listen properly.
Up to you if you make contact. It's not someone you haven't heard of.

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Old 02-16-2018, 12:38 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks. I know youíre right. Knowing they all are fumbling dolts is why I donít stay angry. I just add looking after their needs and making them more comfortable with it to my to do list.

The other possibility is, they are all assholes
Iím kidding.
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Old 02-16-2018, 12:40 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Have seen your edit and agree. I wish I knew how to be that listener. But hey, my head space is pretty fucked up too.

However I did send you that pm.

Mate I'd ask her myself, and I have, a few questions. But then we go through all that I really shouldn't bother people shit hey?

World is a circle and all that.

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Old 02-16-2018, 12:42 AM   #8 (permalink)
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The other possibility is, they are all assholes
Iím kidding.
This! I don't kid. People are arseholes!

Bless them

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Old 02-16-2018, 01:45 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I think I understand after having some similar experiences after seeing two different doctors in the last two weeks. I was all smiles explaining how 'I'm all better now'.. but inside I'm dying, talking to the doctor inside I'm completely numb.

Depression is a hard battle so sorry to hear that you have been fighting it so long but don't feel alone
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Old 02-16-2018, 02:06 AM   #10 (permalink)
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The other possibility is, they are all assholes
Iím kidding.
Never discount any of the plausible options.
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Old 02-16-2018, 03:09 AM   #11 (permalink)
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THIS. You try to function, sometimes you even manage to pretend to be fine - but it works for only so long. In my past, I even had a few relationships go downhill because I couldn't pretend to be fine any longer, because my depression took its toll.

Even my own mother only recently (as in a year ago) began to really realize that I've been suffering from recurrent severe depression since my youth, and that depression is not just a mood, but an illness. Before last year, she had kinda ignored that fact, even despite she had spoken with one of my therapists in 2007, even despite she knew that I was in a mental hospital because of depression, even despite she visited me a few times while I was on rehab after that.
However, her "trigger" last year was this: the wife of my elder cousin (who lives only 15km [roughly 10 mi.] away from my mother) also was diagnosed with depression, and seeing her struggling with daily life and routines, sorta changed my mother's mind. She's been trying to be more supportive towards me ever since.
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Old 02-16-2018, 03:28 AM   #12 (permalink)
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That good old can't see the forest for the trees. Because not my family.

Have to laugh. With me it's because my sister is so fucked up that I'm fine!
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Old 02-16-2018, 10:14 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I don't know what the answer is to helping others out that suffer from depression. Listening without judgement is, I suspect, one good way.

I have dealt with depression for over 30 years. Mind numbing, debilitating, soul sucking depression. If you have not dealt with it, you have no idea.

As a single mom of a son, I too thought I could never take myself out of this pain because I could not bear leaving him alone. He saved me without knowing it. Taking care of him was my focus, so I would not go crazy. I had no idea at the time of how to help myself.

I went through a few counselors before I met one that synched with me. She was simple in her methods and absolute in her speech. Nothing intense, no drama, just honest words. She made me look at myself without guilt. Without thinking I was a piece of shit. I had found a small light in the darkness. Tiny and seemingly insignificant, but something to hold on to for dear life. And from there I could start lighting small candles. One at a time, tiny little flames, so faint, but there they were.

She taught me to stop looking back, stop looking forward and just "be" for now. Throw out all expectations from myself, from others. That was hard because I was trained from birth that other peoples thoughts and opinions mattered. I thought I had to live up to those expectations. She said, " you're not mother to the world, they will have to learn to fend for themselves, you're just mother to your son and to you." His expectations were simple. He just needed love and his simple childish desires. I could do that.

It was mothering myself that was going to be hard. I was taught that we all had to be selfless. That our duties were to family. No matter the toxicity of those relationships, I was to serve them.

That was the hardest thing to learn to do. Detach myself from their desires. I lost many relationships over the years. But I started finding myself. I was called selfish, self serving but realized that it was their way of trying to keep me in that role. I don't blame them. It is what alot of us are taught. That we "owe" ourselves to others.

No, not if there is toxicity.

I discovered simplicity in life. Was it easy? Hell no. I learned to be quiet and to listen for what really mattered. It was hard to hear in all the loud noises. The tiny flames were slowly and painstakingly lit, one after another. I'll never stop listening and lighting those flames.

It's not a straight line out of hell, but a meandering path. And so, for the love of my son, go I.
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Old 02-16-2018, 11:02 AM   #14 (permalink)
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There are so many untold stories - after I got out of the hospital for attempted suicide, I kept trying to think of the story I would tell my colleagues at work -- and nothing made sense, so I decided to be upfront about it and I sent this email:

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I was just released from a 9 day stay in the hospital. Rather than making up some story about why I was there, I think it best to forthcoming and let everyone know in order to encourage and bring awareness of the issues that we all face. I have been diagnosed with MDD, or Major Depressive Disorder. I am much better and on meds that help the situation. In addition, I will be going into an intensive outpatient program that will be 4-6 hours a day, 4 days a week. Consequently, I will be out of the office until at least January 2nd. I want you all to know that mental illness can affect anyone. If you experience any symptoms at all, talk with someone, get help as soon as possible. Donít delay. If you ever want to talk with me about my experiences, I will be more than happy to share with you.

I have done many things in my career and I want to say this is the best place I have ever worked and I appreciate my friends and colleagues more than mere words can express.

Wishing you the happiest of holidays and Happy New Year
I was amazed by the outpouring of support and kind wishes from my colleagues, like this one

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Iím sorry I didnít respond to this email right away but I wanted to sit with this a bit before saying anything. You donít know how much you sharing your story has impacted me. I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety/social anxiety my senior year of college. I was put on medications and things were going well for a while but ultimately things continued to get worse and there was a moment where it seemed like I wasnít going to finish college but miraculously I made it through. I was on medication for a few years after graduating but I donít know if I was misdiagnosed or if the combination of the medications I was on just werenít working for me but I eventually decided to get off medication because I honestly thought if I didnít things would eventually end very very badly.

You donít know how many times whenever we have our team meetings I look around the group and think wow everyone seems so happy and outgoing and outspoken but here is little ole me hiding in the background hoping no one can tell just how much these meetings mess with my anxiety. I truly feel alone in my feelings a lot of time even though logically I know mental illness is not something you can see and of course there can be people who are struggling just like me even though I canít tell.

I think thatís why your email impacted me so much. Of course I donít wish mental illness on anyone but knowing that Iím not alone makes me a feel little less like Iím a defective product. That it can truly happen to anyone.
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Old 02-16-2018, 05:30 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Old 02-16-2018, 05:48 PM   #16 (permalink)
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It’s good for all of us to hear different versions of what depression or mental health issues look like. Not everyone displays what society might recognize as symptoms. For example if someone believes depressed people are quiet they would be fooled by my depression because it’s sarcastic, and it talks really really fast with lots of hand gestures.

I sometimes have these little stories or scenarios in my head where I imagine when people find out they say “but she seemed so normal”. Just like they do about a serial killer
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Old 02-16-2018, 06:31 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I'm schizophrenic. This causes a lot of issues that I won't list right this second, but depression is a common side effect. What makes it more counter intuitive for people is that I smile and laugh. ...A LOT. I think I am often able to pass it off as being SUPER happy but it's partly a tick. I think people often pick up on the fact that there is something "off" about me, but they can't quite put their finger on what it is...

It's my understanding and experience that anti-psychotic medication helps us more than anti-depressants help depressed people. My medication drastically reduces my belief that close friends are about to be murdered and make me see a lot fewer dark things jump out at me from the dark. For example, I don't like snakes, so I see them a lot... I always knew they weren't real, but they still scare me for a moment.
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Old 02-16-2018, 07:47 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Itís good for all of us to hear different versions of what depression or mental health issues look like. Not everyone displays what society might recognize as symptoms. For example if someone believes depressed people are quiet they would be fooled by my depression because itís sarcastic, and it talks really really fast with lots of hand gestures.

I sometimes have these little stories or scenarios in my head where I imagine when people find out they say ďbut she seemed so normalĒ. Just like they do about a serial killer
I'll take interesting over normal anyday. And you have that in spades.
What the hell is "normal" anyway?
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Old 02-16-2018, 09:47 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Old 02-17-2018, 05:38 PM   #20 (permalink)
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My story is long and complicated. I'm tired of telling it in rl and when I come here I like to pretend.......something. But I feel totally misunderstood by everyone in my hmo and most of the other people I've tried to explain it to. When I do tell anyone they usually want to be the one who comes up with a solution for me. On the spot. Yeah well.

I just want to say to all of you who are suffering I'm someone who truly understands some of what you are going through. And it's not character flaws or mental laziness or what ever.

Love and hope to all of us.
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Old 02-17-2018, 10:51 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Pancake and all the rest here.

I use color therapy (my own prescription. I make quilts and knit with lots of colors. Lots of blue lately. Van Gogh helps.)
I behave like a shallow person because if I have to delve deep and form close relationships I rely on people too much in ways they don't even know and I get disappointed and hurt. I have attachment disorder I guess.
I shop. Virtually now, but it has been bad in the past. Like, thousands of dollars of debt bad.
I eat. Chocolate is my self-medication.
I read crappy books because anything that requires emotional investment is going to fucking destroy me.
I avoid writing until it's a worm in my brain that won't let me be and I have to just get the voice out of my head and onto paper. Then I obsess over what I've written, like, fear that someone will read it kind of obsession, and then fear that whoever reads it will hate it and think I'm a hack (I'm a poet. I'm supposed to know what the hell I'm doing with words).
I rarely cry, but this month I'm a fucking sieve with an ocean flowing through it. I cried in front of a classroom full of students on Valentine's Day, like hard ugly crying, and of all the ridiculous things I was in the middle of reading J. Alfred Prufrock for the millionth time. I had to cancel class.

I recently had a conversation with my youngest daughter who told me she feels like shit most of the time. She has anxiety and depression and cuts herself and is suicidal. I avoid thinking because I feel exactly that way and I'm devastated that I've passed this on to her. She's seeing a doctor, but I haven't been able to bring myself to ask for help because once I let go to a stranger in an office, I know I'll be really gone. I've held on for so, so long.

I know whereof you speak.
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Old 02-18-2018, 07:48 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Timing (I mean for the article, which was posted yesterday).

New studies zero in on roots of depression and why ketamine reverses it
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While we have a number of treatments available for clinical depression, many of them have a significant side effects, and a lot of people struggle to find a drug that they respond to. The situation is made worse by our limited understanding of the biology underlying depression. We don't know how to create targeted drugs, so most of the available treatments are blunt instruments that can take weeks to months before having an effect.

In that light, it came as a bit of a shock when we discovered a drug we'd been using recreationally and for anesthesia could lift the symptoms of depression in less than 24 hours. Unfortunately, the drug in question, ketamine, also has a collection of unpleasant side-effects, and we had no idea how it was working.

But there's been significant progress in unravelling the confusion over ketamine, with researchers identifying a ketamine derivative that tackles depression with far fewer side effects. And this week, a team of researchers at China's Zhejiang University announced that they've figured out where in the brain ketamine acts when it blocks depression, a finding that gives us significant insights into the biology of the disorder.
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Old 02-18-2018, 09:47 AM   #23 (permalink)
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I have a personality not quite in line with the american norm. Closer to a stereotypical Finn, that is seasonal affective disorder all the time and and a place where introverts would feel right at home. I am not depressive though.

Recently my neurologist sent me to a shrink for some brain mapping, fine. At the end they did the typical depression test that gets used now. Alarmed she started asking follow-up questions. I am guessing she was confused that my answers did not line up with what the test instrument was saying.

Basically my point is the test they use to screen for depression needs to be tweaked if different cultures and personalities can throw it off that much. For example, it would not catch someone who was temporarily overjoyed because they would be attempting suicide that afternoon.
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Old 02-18-2018, 11:31 AM   #24 (permalink)
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I display a lot of the symptoms of depression.... but I don't =feel= depressed. I'm generally genuinely cheerful and content, I just lack any desire to get involved, socially or otherwise. Everything seems utterly futile, but not in a bad way, just a 'doing nothing has about as much value, so why bother' kinda way.

Being really literal about it 'depression' (to me) means 'low' or being pushed/held down, and that can manifest in many different ways.... whether it's chemical or post-traumatic or conditioning or nature or nurture... it comes down to finding some way to either manage it or at least function with it. It's like gravity, it's always going to be there pulling us down, wearing us out with the extra effort required to fight it, until we find the will, help AND/or tools/meds to make it a little easier to live with.
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Old 02-18-2018, 04:03 PM   #25 (permalink)
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