by Suzanne Grosser
Lots of websites can give you a list of the symptoms of depression. Same for TV commercials and magazine ads. You should definitely check out those more complete lists, if you think you might be suffering from this.
My page is different from those lists. Because most of those lists are looking at the problem from the outside. Like your doctor looking at you. My short list below is a look at the problem from the inside out. Here are 5 clues that you might be depressed.
People ask you “What’s wrong?” This happens a lot. You always say “nothing.” You are lying. But you are not sure exactly what it is that is wrong. Strangers ask if you need help. Friends ask what they can do for you.
When you are asked these questions, it is kind of like being offered a breath mint. It’s okay to turn down the first breath mint; maybe that person is only being polite. But when the third person in a row offers you a breath mint, they are not being polite – you need the mint. So even if you don’t think you need it, you should accept the mint.
When the third person in a row offers you help for depression, you need help. So even if you don’t think you need it, you should accept their help.
If you can’t think of how they can help, at least thank them for asking. Tell them you are not sure what you need. Listen. Maybe they have something important to say. Let yourself feel the compassion that made them offer.
And when you do figure out what you need, ASK. Your friends didn’t offer their help to be polite. They offered because they care about you. Accept help. Tell them what you need.
Normal for you has changed. Change can be good, but this change has crept up on you and it isn’t improving your life. Maybe your sleep patterns have changed. You are getting no sleep or way too much. You wake up in the middle of the night crying, but you don’t know why.
You would think these would be obvious signs that no one would miss. But when you are sliding toward depression, nothing is obvious. Especially the obvious.
Maybe it is your eating patterns that have changed. I have a unique single-food-diet I sink into when I am depressed. Maybe you eat junk food – all day long. Oh sure, you can play it off, make yourself eat properly when other people are watching, but when you are alone…
Speaking of which, you would much rather be alone. You are tired of pleasing others – it is just too exhausting to go out with your friends, or cook a meal, or well, do anything. Besides all your friends do is complain about how moody you are, or how you aren’t paying attention. And then they ask you again, “What’s wrong?”
You have personal stuff to deal with. You need to sort it out, think it over, okay obsess might be a better word, but being with other people interferes with that. And anyway, you are not feeling good – maybe you are coming down with a cold or the flu. It could be, but more likely, it’s depression.
You have stupid thoughts – you know the ones I mean. The thoughts you are ashamed to tell anyone. And why should you? It’s not like you are really going to act on them. You wouldn’t really cut yourself, or do that other stupid thing that keeps popping into your brain, or well, you know.
You don’t even know why you have those thoughts or why they keep coming back. It must have been that article on depression (ding-ding) that you read …
You are hiding from your life. You spend a lot of time in another world. It could be via drugs or alcohol, but it doesn’t have to be. If it is, you know you are in trouble.
But what if it is something less dangerous, safer, even good for you? Like reading. I mean reading way too much. Reading is a way to escape into another world. Ditto movies, or video games.
Maybe you walk around plugged into your iPod all day. All these things disconnect you from your world, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Unless you don’t come back. You have to come back and deal with whatever in your real life is hurting you.
If you find yourself doing these things to excess – something is going on. Congratulate yourself on finding an excellent coping mechanism – not the drugs thing, but the book thing or the music thing. You are making an effort to care for yourself. Good. But realize that you are depressed and may not be able to handle it alone.
Recent research has shown that shape of your chromosomes may put you at risk for depression. Add a trauma or two, especially if your pain has been ignored, and you could easily slip into depression.
You can’t think your way better with “happy thoughts” or a positive attitude. You need professional help. A doctor, a psychotherapist, medications. There is nothing to be ashamed of – you have a health problem and it can be treated by health professionals.
That’s whole point of figuring out that you are depressed. So you can get the help you need.
Help from a friend. Help from your doctor.
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not much is required;
so little we need
the smallest of dreams,
a mere mustard seed.
a glimpse, or a glimmer,
a flicker of light,
a promise of day
against vapid night.
Books by Suzanne Grosser