Things change. Relationships, jobs, where you live… or you experience some adversity or a major loss. Sometimes these things happen all at once! That’s just the nature of life. Depression can seriously affect your entire life – all your relationships and even your career/work and lifestyle. Oh, I know you don’t want to hear that, but the more realistic you are about how you’re feeling, the easier it will be feel better and you CAN feel better. It’s not something that usually goes away on its own and it may be especially worse after a loss. I’m not trying to scare you into thinking you have serious mental health issues, I just want you to be aware of how serious it can be and more importantly, it affects pretty much everyone at some time or another.
It’s my experience that both men and women don’t like to admit they are depressed unless they have learned to identify their emotions and have a tendency to be introspective, asking, “Why do I feel like this?” Both are guilty of slapping on a fake smiley face and acting like all is well and we all know based on addiction rates that we as a society tend to self-medicate. Did you know you can walk around with subtle depression for years?
So When is Sadness Depression?
I had to consult some psychologists here. As a reminder, not all depression is the result of life circumstances. Sometimes our hormones mess things up or we have chemical imbalances that contribute. In general, it is not uncommon to experience sadness if you experience a loss of some kind. Depression is prolonged – meaning it spans more than a few days with side effects that you may not even recognize: overeating, loss of appetite, excessive sleep, general tired feeling, even aches and pains.
Sadness can occur as a result of loss… death of a loved one (even a pet), separation, divorce or a change in a relationship, etc. It could even result from a career or job change or losing the ability to do something you once enjoyed. These losses require you to grieve. If you don’t recognize some event in your life as a loss, you may not grieve it. For example: I went from working in an office to working from home (alone) again. It took a few weeks to realize I missed talking to coworkers and a few months to realize that I was actually grieving the loss of that interaction. I didn’t miss the job, but I certainly missed the people I saw every day and had come to care about. Was I depressed? Possibly.
How Do You Get Out of It?
Boy. If I had a quick answer for this one……. I don’t know too many people who like being sad or depressed but I know plenty of people who get comfortable being in that state. They accept it as the way they will live, thinking, “I’ll never be happy again.” I say, “Fight against the sadness, Artax!” What? It’s from The Neverending Story, a movie I watched endlessly in childhood… there was a Swamp of Sadness and whenever living creatures got near it, they’d be overcome with sadness. They could die in there too. Awful, right? It was, but the hero in the story was this little boy who encouraged Artax to fight. The way to fight sadness is to go through it. Just like grieving to grieve, you have to feel the depths of your sadness and work to do something about it. Trust me – it’s cray scary when you’re not sure you want to find out just how deep that pit of despair goes.
Painful as sadness may be… please realize, my friend, that you are NOT ALONE and it doesn’t have to last forever.
You aren’t. You are human and sadness is common. If a specific life event caused your depression, try to work through your painful emotions and then LEAVE them in the past. Rehashing a disappointment, a wrongdoing, a “shoulda been…” only compounds your suffering. The reality is your situation is exactly what it is. If it’s in the past, you can’t change it. You can only change how you deal with it. As you deal with the feelings that come up, forgive yourself and anyone else you need to forgive so that you can move forward. If you don’t know how to work through it, you can find help in the form of a licensed counselor or therapist. I’m serious. You don’t have to advertise it to the world, just do it for YOU.
If it’s an ongoing situation, it is definitely harder to let go but you can do it! It takes courage to look boldly at your own shredded heart/ego and commit to healing it so you can be OKAY. Your sadness may also be worsened by lack of self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness and loneliness but I can tell you first hand that you can survive it.
The worst depression of my life was after a tumultuous year in my late twenties. I had been taken to small claims court by a client I respectfully disengaged from. They had no legal ground but I’d been an entrepreneur for less than three years old and I thought being sued was a death knell for my business. I won the case. I also fell out with a dear friend of mine (who I now know as Love of My Life) and we didn’t speak for nearly a year.
At first there were periods where I would just withdraw and then it turned into something worse: I didn’t want to design or create. When you have God-given gifts that you don’t want to use, it is one of the worst feelings in the world. I remember finally confiding in a few people who expressed concern and I am eternally grateful for my friend Sean who told me about a friend of his who had struggled with depression all their life. He was sensitive but didn’t make me feel like a freak. He even sent me information for a free clinic where I could talk to someone. I never went to the clinic but just knowing someone accepted this about me and understood was huge for me. I also thank my friend Dwayne for his support during that time.
I didn’t come out of that “funk” quickly. It took months. I only began to ascend when I got angry – sick and tired of feeling the way I was feeling. I am normally an optimistic, happy person and wallowing around feeling nothing was seriously played out. I had no joy. I started reading everything I could about depression and armed with that information, I began to talk…to anyone who would listen! I didn’t care if it made people uncomfortable. I would not suffer in silence. Turned out others in my circle had similar feelings from time to time and none of us liked it. It was liberating and empowering to share with other people.
I know people are ashamed of their sadness, like, “what’s wrong with me??” I get that but I will talk to anyone about depression. Knowing I am prone to depression, I use herbs like St. John’s Wort and B12/B-Complex supplements to help keep my mood even. I’ve not used anything stronger but if you need prescription antidepressants, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor and please do your own research about the effects of long-term usage. Interesting to note (thanks to my research) is many brilliant creatives suffer from depression. I’ve also read books by a pastor who says he’s always experienced the greatest episodes of depression right before God bestowed amazing blessings on him.
Bottom Line It
Sometimes sadness leads to prolonged and sometimes severe episodes of depression. It may feel like you’re in a downward spiral, like no one cares and there is no way out. Well, I care and you have options. If you’re reading this and you’re afraid you might hurt yourself, PLEASE call someone now and get help immediately. If you’re dealing with temporary sadness, I know you may be anxious to be done with it already but there is a reason for it. You definitely need to show yourself a lot of love, cut yourself some slack and be patient. It could take some time but there’s no way I know to rush through. Just commit to showing up and facing the most difficult of your emotions and it will work out. It will.