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The Dark Hold of Depression

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

"Many of us are quick to judge things we don't understand I hear suicide described as selfish, cowardly; I believe that's us looking at the situation through the prism of a healthy mind. Usual rules don't apply when you're in the depths of depression, it warps your thinking. If we understand that, we're in a much better place to support people in these situations."

-Gill Hayes

Depression is an extremely common diagnosis and one that has haunted me since I was between the ages of age 11 to 12. It is a mood disorder that is quite serious in that it affects how you feel, think, and handle daily life. This can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems increasing in intensity if not addressed. These areas in daily life include work, social life, and personal life down to struggling with eating, getting out of bed, or even showering when needed. These aren't just bouts of sadness you can 'snap out' of or weaknesses you need to overcome. It is a deep heaviness that is carried internally that can either feel like you are a pile of lead or a feeling empty and hollow. Some people may experience it once in their life, typically after a huge sudden event like a loss of a loved one. For some people, it's a continuous struggle. What I go through (with a diagnosis), for example, is S.A.D., Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia), and Major Depressive Disorder. Details on the differences between those in a bit.

For Depression to be diagnosed, symptoms must be present for most of the day to nearly every day for a minimum of two weeks. You don't have to have all of the following signs as some only experience a few while some experience multiple. They have to impede in life enough to cause a disturbance in normal life.

  • Decreased energy or fatigue

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies & fatigue

  • Irritability or frustration, angry outbursts over small matters

  • Moving or talking more slowly

  • Feeling "empty", or a persistent sadness/tearfulness or anxiousness

  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still

  • Difficulty sleeping: waking early morning or oversleeping

  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism; fixating on past failures

  • Aches and pains without a clear physical cause and/or do not ease with treatment

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions

  • Appetite and/or weight changes

  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness

  • Thoughts or attempts of suicide

Safe to say I was depressed as I have had as few as 4 to as many as 10 in a day. The intensity may have varied slightly but still, the number of how many I needed to fight against was always overwhelming on a day-to-day basis. Though there is evidence, "U.S. Current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.", anyone is still susceptible to having an episode of depression when the right pieces fall into place. So I would like to be able to help people prepare for the possibility of it happening with them, learning to understand and appreciate those going through this struggle, as well as giving them tools to help others they care for that may be suffering from depression.

This next video does well to give you a picture and describe what it's like to suffer. It hit home for me as many things he said related exactly and I could feel the pain or emptiness again. If you even read through the comments, there are many MANY others who are going through something similar, who can relate and put in their two cents and have it relate to thousands of others watching the same video.

Depression, the secret we share | Andrew Solomon

Though there are no real proven ways to prevent depression, there are some strategies you can use or try to help others with to slow down the descent or lessen the intensity of current depression: 1) Take purposeful steps to control your stress, boost your confidence, and increase your resilience. 2) Reach out to family and friends you can trust when you are going through rough times. 3) Search for therapy as soon as you notice symptoms are getting heavy to prevent it from getting worse. 4) Look for more long-term treatment in terms of maintenance to help prevent a relapse.

I have a very good video suggestion that will hopefully give you another person's life and perspective on what was going on and how it felt. If you don't want to watch the video but want the gist, just read ahead.

Depression, Suicide and the Power of Hope | Gill Hayes | TEDxExeter

"My concerned husband made me see a doctor. I was given a questionnaire to gauge the severity of my depression. My answers confirmed that it was indeed severe, but I lied on the last two questions, the ones about suicide. How could I confess to feeling suicidal? What if they take away my children? The doctor prescribed antidepressants; said they might make me feel worse before I felt better. Worse? Worse than this? I wasn't taking them. .... Each morning, I'd wake at 1 a.m., I'd lie there for hours telling myself how pathetic I was, what a coward I was for still being here, a burden to my family; I would be disgusted with myself by sunrise, for still existing. This had to stop. Of course, I knew my family would be upset but through this depressive lens, I believed that they'd be better off without me. My husband is an amazing father, he would do an excellent job in raising our children. We had a holiday planned, they'd have time to bury me, grieve, take a holiday to get over it and come back to start a better life without me."

-Gill Hayes

Now in her story, she was lucky to have a loving support system with people that openly cared for her. Not many were lucky. I was stuck in both lucky and unlucky situations where it wasn't that easy. I was lucky that I had a home to go back to and parents that would help pay for and care for me when I couldn't for myself. Though it also was a double-edged sword living with them as it brought more of a mental health struggle than if I were living elsewhere. But I was too afraid to be away from the familiar so I still stayed. Not everyone even had that minimum of support. I was lucky to find a therapist that listened patiently to what I said and sat through my ramblings and rants. Though there were many aspects she couldn't help me with, she was at least a consistent support I heavily relied on. She had even admitted to my parents that she wasn't sure what else she could do for me as we had reached a plateau. Luckily for me, I just needed ONE person in my life to trust and rely on when talking about my issues. Just being consistent with me as I kept working on myself was already phenomenal. After about three years of mentioning this to my parents, I actually recovered enough to move on to a different therapist for different issues that could be more active in working with me. I had trouble making and keeping friends and it was not really a topic you bring up when making new friends. Not that I had the energy to keep up with my social life much.

I want to heavily emphasize that depression is not a weakness nor a character flaw! It is an illness that can be debilitating and can alter how we think, feel, and function. When it becomes too heavy and hard to bear, suicidal thoughts start coming into play. This is why it is important to address symptoms of depression early on to prevent more severe consequences. I don't agree with not asking why someone is depressed. Sometimes there is a key event or person that is causing the depression which could be addressed and the symptoms lessen. However, if they do answer that they don't know...then don't push it. They would either know, not want to tell you, or not know. Please be respectful that during this time, functioning can become difficult and pressing can make it worse. Just let them know you are there for them to listen without judgment and hopefully be able to help with some advice or solutions. If you can't or sounds like advice you don't feel comfortable giving, gently advise that seeing a therapist would be beneficial. We will go over in a few posts later how to properly look for a therapist.

Now earlier I mentioned I had been diagnosed with S.A.D., Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia), and Major Depressive Disorder. S.A.D. stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder where my depression gets heavier during certain seasons. For me, that's usually winter. Most of the domestically violent events occurred during cold seasons and that triggers memories both mentally and physically. What helped most with this was using an S.A.D. light for light therapy. For more information on Seasonal Affective Disorder, check out this link.

Next are the two: Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia) and Major Depressive Disorder. "Major depressive disorder and dysthymia overlap in some ways. But there are key differences. Dysthymia, now usually called persistent depressive disorder (PDD), involves fewer symptoms. But they last longer, at least 2 years. You can be diagnosed with MDD if you have symptoms for 2 weeks. Both mood disorders are serious. Sometimes dysthymia can disrupt your life more, even with fewer symptoms." (5) Throughout my life, prior to domestic violence (DV) and during some periods of recovery after, I was in MDD. During DV and the years closest to getting out of it, I was in constant deep depression, fighting suicide daily. I really believe my PDD started when I was around 11 or 12. I don't remember many sunny childhood days after that until I met my husband over 15 years later. Even as an adult, I get more childhood excitement days than at that period of my life. If you'd like to read more on the difference between these two then follow this link.

The following three TED talks really helped shine some light on different aspects or illuminate what I had been going through. If you have time, I highly recommend you look through these. If you can, watch one or two a day and let it sit. Think it over and how or where it can apply in your life. If it can't, imagine scenarios with a loved one who has shown similar symptoms. How could you address them or how could you approach them?

How I overcame depression by just sitting around | Jonathan Schoenmaker | TEDxDelft

Conquering depression: how I became my own hero | Hunter Kent | TEDxYouth@CEHS

How to connect with depressed friends | Bill Bernat | TEDxSnoIsleLibraries

"Tell it as it is," I tell them, "or else, we're all complicit in feeding the stigma." Misconception and stigma smother hope."

-Gill Hayes


7. Other resources about Mental Health and Mesothelioma can be found here:




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