Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sunny Days, Where Have You Gone?

Here on the lovely blog we've been talking a lot about learning to feel good about yourself, creating your own confidence by taking chances, and cutting out some of the excuses you give yourself for not doing things. But sometimes these things don't work for some people, no matter how hard you try, and that can make you feel even worse about yourself. With that in mind, I want to take a minute and address depression. At different times in college, I had three roommates who had depression. I also have several family members who suffer from it, and I do myself. This leads me to believe that depression is much more common than most people think, and less recognized.
I didn't realize that I had depression until I left college. Up until then, I just did a lot of wondering what the heck was wrong with me. (This is our first indication that depression is not very well understood, because believe me, all the signs were there. I just didn't know what they were.) I failed several classes that I should have aced, because I just couldn't go to class most days. I wanted to go--I loved my classes, enjoyed them when I was there, loved learning the material. I also knew how much I needed to go, and had horrible panicky feelings knowing that I would be in big trouble and probably fail if I didn't. And yet I couldn't do it. 90% of me wanted to get up, get dressed, and walk up to campus, but somehow there was a part of me that kept me from doing it, and it didn't matter how small that part was--it was in charge. I felt like the laziest, crappiest student ever. I stayed home, giant journaling and watching Pride & Prejudice, or listening to self-indulgently depressing music. I was sullen and withdrawn, and my roommates probably thought I was the pissiest person they'd ever lived with (and possibly bipolar, because when I'm in a good mood, I am in a good mood. I'm loud and funny and slightly insane.) Which probably made it all the more confusing when they'd come home and find me lying on the floor in the living room with the lights off and my headphones in with my iPod up as loud as it would go.
Anyway. The moral of the story is that if you have depression, you need to be taking a different approach to becoming lovely than women who don't. Depression is a totally different thing than being lazy, and it can be really hard to realize that you have it. If you do, then it's important to realize it so you can stop beating yourself up for not being able to do the simplest thing on your to-do list, and figure out a way to make yourself better. While we're on the subject, I would like to recommend that everyone do some research on depression, and find out what it is really about--because chances are good that someone close to you has it, and we could all do with a little more understanding.


Julie W said...


Heidi Marie said...

my health professor advised us all to take the “Confidential Depression Screening Test.” at this website

i felt it was a pretty good indication of where i stood. It says that it's not obviously a diagnosis but again an indication if perhaps help should be sought.

Miri said...

That is a fantastic idea. I don't mean to make people paranoid; obviously everyone struggles with life, but that doesn't mean everyone has depression. It's just a good thing to be aware of, for the sake of those around you as well as yourself.

Lin said...

Miri - we must be friends because I had plans to address this in the future. I just couldn't find the right words.

I went through a major depression a few years ago and it made me realize that I kind of go through little mini depressions, if that makes sense. I don't think it necessarily has anything to do with seasons or things like that, but that one major depression (months where it took all of my strength to get out of bed and where every single thing people said to me made me cry) helped me recognize what was happening and how to stop it before it starts.

The most important thing is that I talked to someone I trusted (who happened to not just be a friend but a licensed professional as well) who recognized my symptoms as I opened up to her about how I was feeling. It took me a long time to get out of it, but talking about things changed everything. And talking about how I'm feeling is usually the first thing I do when I feel it coming on again. It doesn't prevent it, but it makes it a little less intense.

annie said...

thank you so much for this, miri.

Katherine said...

Amen, Miri. I'd like to second Annie's thanks.

Whitney said...

So, I really liked this post. I think a lot of people are unaware of depression.
But can I tell you all something funny? I love internet quizzes and questionnaires. Basically, I love answering questions about myself. So naturally I immediately went to take the depression screening test as soon as I finished reading the post. As soon as I started the test though, I realized that my answers may not give an accurate depiction of my mental health as I was recently diagnosed with mono. So, yes, I have been feeling tired and basically sleeping constantly for the last two weeks. I believe I shall have to wait to take this depression screening test until the other variables have gone away!