Wednesday, July 2, 2014

So hard to explain ... what does depression feel like?

It is so very difficult to explain to people what it feels like when you have anxiety/depression issues (if you are new here, I use the terms anxiety and depression interchangeably, because I experience them as part of the same continuum).  It's hard to explain for two reasons:  1) we use common words to describe our emotions (sad, stressed, anxious, depressed - they are relative terms), and 2) I've never been in someone else's body to experience how they feel - so I don't know how my moods compare to anyone else's.

As I mentioned yesterday, I messed with my meds.  Which I shouldn't ought to have done.  I had my reasons, and it was an interesting experiment, but I'm paying for it.  And so I'm not feeling as good as I should be.  But how to explain it to someone?  Well, I feel tired (everyone feels tired sometimes), I feel sad (everyone feels sad sometimes), I feel grouchy (everyone feels grouchy sometimes), I feel like a raw nerve and anything and everything anyone says to me can hurt a feeling that it shouldn't even touch - and although I want to react to every single slight, I know I shouldn't and can't because they probably aren't real (everyone feels sensitive sometimes).  And it is those bracketed words that make me question whether I actually have a problem (although my sister tells me that questioning it is actually a symptom of the problem).  And the really well-meaning people who say those bracketed words make me question it even more.

The last point in my listing is probably the most important one - being around people opens me up to pain - not because of them - they are just going on about their day - but because of how my mind and body react to them.  If I'm feeling rejected, hurt, set aside, used, abused in any way, I need to really look at how I'm feeling, because I am probably not myself.  Also, if I'm getting short-tempered with my family, I need to take a step back and be more observant of my feelings.

The difference between just feeling sad and being clinically depressed - well, there's never going to be an end to it when you are clinically depressed - I've always felt this way and always will.  There is no hope to ever feel better.  My logical mind can take over and realize that the medication will kick back in and I'll feel better, but the emotional person who is sitting here just feeling sad and tired doesn't FEEL like it will ever be better.  What about the sensitive tendencies?  Well, if you are so sensitive that you are ruminating over what you've said to someone and whether they took it the wrong way - or you're taking things other people say far too personally or the wrong way - well, then you probably need some help somewhere.  Because we really shouldn't over-react to other people (and God forbid you have two over-reactive people trying to deal with each other ... that just gets ugly really quickly).

So one of the real problems in dealing with these issues is in comparing myself to other people - because I've never experienced what they feel and I never can.  Pretty much anyone else on the face of the planet who deals with depression or anxiety has it worse than I do - at least in my mind.  I should not be feeling the way I am because I'm not nearly as bad as John.  I should not be so sluggish, my problems aren't as bad as Mary's.  I've never been hospitalized like Jane or Jack, so I should just get over my issues and get on with it.

We cannot compare our issues to other people's.  There is no point.  The only thing we can do is the best to deal with our own.  To get our lives to a comfortable place.  To do what we need to do for our families and ourselves.  That's it.  Whether we are being wimps or handling it well ... it doesn't matter.  What matters is that you find a place that is as happy as you need it to be.  And your happy does not have to equate to anyone else's.

Do what feels right for you and your family, and, just like finances or clothes, don't compare.  It does no good.

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