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brian42

Trying To Explain Depression To Those Who Don't Have It.

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Have any of you experienced frustration in trying to describe what depression feels like to someone who has never experienced clinical depression? In my experience it appears many people confuse situation sadness with depression, and although sadness may accompany depression it is far more than that. I often hear "what is there to be depressed about" as if I can think my way out of it, my reply is" well nothing really", but that's the problem. Clinical depression is really a disease of perception, it is a disease that attacks motivations, vitality, a sense of purpose and meaning, it is a numbness akin to being in a candy shop with no taste buds and trying to find a reason to stay. When someone is diagnosed with dementia no one questions why they struggle with memory issues, but with depression they question why you feel sad.

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Hi brian42,

 

Oh I definitely have experienced this. Unfortunately, there are few people that understand it that haven't experienced depression. It is a sad situation and probably one of the many reasons mental health is looked at so wrong in our society and even by those that have the power to treat us, and provide medications.

 

Best of luck to you.

 

((Hugs))

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I've asked what it "feels like" or something similar many times. I get lots of different explanations for it, all depending on the person experiencing it. I think my favourite explanation (as in I could kind of get it) was when someone described it as being like a "hollowed out target." (I find metaphors helpful!)

 

Basically, they said that people have a target - like a dartboard - of emotions. The center is where you feel "okay." Or "centered." Then the emotions get more intense the further into the rings of the target you go, to where they're really extreme in the outer ring. If you go up from the center, they're happy emotions. Down from the center and they're sad emotions. Out to the left or right you get anger, fear, confusion, and anything else I've missed. But, they said that for people with depression, the center of the target starts to disappear. They don't have that "okay" or "centered" feeling after a while. It's just not there - they either don't feel anything when "at rest" or they bounce around the outside of that missing center, feeling a lot more than other people. If it gets worse, or goes for a long time, the missing center can get bigger. Eventually, it can get to where someone can only feel the most extreme emotions on the very outside of the target. But, if it starts to get better, the missing center can start to shrink.

 

Does that sound close? It may not be the same for everyone, but I thought it was good explanation.

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Depression: The sensation of having a tremendous amount of weight on your mind and body.  Your mind struggles to remain intact as the last vestiges of hope are siphoned from you by an oppressive dark energy.  You feel your essence being painfully ripped apart; then dragged into a void, that seeks to obliterate all that you are.  In other words, it's like waiting in line at a government office.

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Depression.... you took everything I had, my career, my lover, my health, my self esteem, my hopes, my dreams. You took all that and crushed it. Now I'm barely human, so tired, so empty, so lost. What are you? so many things... just go away.

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You can verbally try to explain it to them but for them to really understand it is almost impossible for most. Some would rather not either because they have the perception of a wild, uncontrollable person or that this is a real illness. This can be very scary to many.

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I hate it when someone people are all like "You need to start thinking positive, you're being over-dramatic." 

It's not my fault that I feel like crap. Depression isn't just sadness and negativity, it literally shuts your mind and body down and pretty much drains your soul. Kinda hard to feel happy when THINKING is a chore. 

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I've definitely experienced this. People think it's laziness but I do loads of things. I do need to sleep quite a lot when I can, as my mind is so stressed and tormented that it tires me out.

I've also had people say I'm feeling sorry for myself. They seem to think that I can just think my way out of it. I think I will always have anxiety and depression. I just have to manage it best I can.

Some people's ignorance makes it so much harder. Some times they brag about how hard they've worked and make out I'm not doing anything. A lot of the time I'm doing things when they're not around, so I don't have to put up with them.

Depression makes me exhausted. I think I manage well considering how it feels like my body is made of lead and my mind is worrying or it's like I'm in a fog unable to concentrate. I can't say this to them because of the stigma. It's a no win situation. I just try to stay away from these people.

Sometimes I wish they would experience depression and anxiety, so they know what it's like. They can't or won't put themselves in someone else's shoes and just judge because it makes them feel better about themselves. Why can't they just shut up and live their own lives? If they're so busy all the time, how come they have so much time to think about what I'm doing?

I've found that it has made me feel bad and confused that I'm struggling so much with everyday life. Now I just remember that it's my depression and do the best I can do in the situation that I'm in. They should feel bad about themselves.

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Trying to explain depression to someone who's never experienced it is like trying to explain a long complicated version of astrophysics problem that covers the entire area of the board with no prior knowledge of basic physics......

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Trying to explain depression to someone who's never experienced it is like trying to explain a long complicated version of astrophysics problem that covers the entire area of the board with no prior knowledge of basic physics......

I have a friend who is a physicist.  That's how she feels when she talks to me about math.  She get's really p***** off at me sometimes when I say something silly about mathematics.  I made a joke about pi one time and she got offended, "pi is only a half of a circle, you would need pi squared to have a whole!"  And that is why she sleeps alone at night.

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I think depression is different for all of us.   We all have diff triggers ,  good times and bad.  Depression runs in my family so its easier for me.  But most others understand at times.  I always hid it good.  some thought I was weird but when they here why they seem to understand.  

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The problem with describing it is that it is the absence of a lot of stuff, and when you have always had things it is hard to imagine not having them. When i was "normal" many years ago, i really did not have any concept of depression or anxiety at all. It just was not something that occurred to me. I knew things like disappointment in myself, or self consciousness, or wishing i could be better, smarter, etc. But i had no concept of the fabric of my life changing, the energy getting sucked out.

The way i have been thinking about it lately is sort of like if you are in a an office or classroom during "normal work or school hours" with bright lights on. That is normal life-- there was a schedule, purpose, goals, classmates or coworkers, curriculum, things to learn. Maybe you hated it, maybe you loved it, but it was still something, and it rolled along. When one day finished there was a new day right around the corner, a new month, a new year.

But with depression it is like someone turned off the lights. You are forced to be there at off-hours in the dark. No one is around, they are all off with family, friends, doing stuff in their own lives far away from you like you should be doing too. Meanwhile you are stuck in the dark room with nothing to do, no one to teach. You do not even want to be there but you still have to get dressed and eat and drive over there anyways. And when the next day comes, you do not feel refreshed and ready to start anew, instead you are left wondering why you are still in the same dark room with nothing to do and everyone is still gone and why you are still being forced to come there at all. And then as the days go by and nothing changes you start to get really exhausted of the nothingness. And then you get exhausted from being exhausted all the time... and you wish it would all just end

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I'm certainly not her biggest fan, but I like the way J.K. Rowling described depression. She described depression as not heavy sadness - sadness is an emotion, sadness is healthy. Depression is the absence of emotion - of feeling 'hollowed out'.

Edited by Mark250

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Nice post, Brian.

 

I've always thought of depression as a November day.  The lush green foliage of spring and summer is gone.  We walk on the remnants.  The sky is cloudy.  It's damp.  The wind blows cold.  You pull your jacket tighter against the chill.

 

And the rest of the month will be the same.  And winter's coming.  It'll get worse before it gets better.

 

But spring NEVER COMES.  NEVER.  Years pass.  There is sometimes a fleeting glimpse of blue sky, but the clouds close in again.  And the trees are forever bare.  And there's always a chill wind blowing.  And it's always damp.  From the time you wake up until the time you go to bed.  Day after day.  Year after year.

 

And there's no "getting over it".  There's no "cheering up".  I've tried ad infinitum.

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Trying to explain the full experience of severe clinical depression to someone who hasn't experienced it is like trying to describe the color blue to someone born blind, or Beethoven's fifth to someone born deaf...

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