It’s easy to say that someone has “the blues” or they are just “lazy,” letting the world pass them by. It’s easy to look at that person from the outside and think they lay in bed all day because they just don’t want to do anything. They let the dishes pile up because they don’t want to do them. It’s easier to judge than it is to understand or try to help.
Depression is a Real Illness
The thing is, though, depression is real. It’s a chemical imbalance in the brain. It’s a diagnosable disorder in the DSM-V. Many insurance companies cover treatment for it, but yet people are shamed for seeking that treatment. There are many different medications that treat it and yet, people are looked at as “weak” for taking them.
This is incredibly hard for me to understand. I’ve worked with people with such deep-seated depression that they had to undergo ECT (electroconvulsive treatment). It’s not like what you see on TV and in movies. The patient is monitored closely before and after treatment. It’s a last resort when other treatments haven’t worked. I’ve worked with people that haven’t showered in 3-4 days because they don’t care about themselves enough to do so. It’s heartbreaking.
I’ve also struggled half of my life with depression, in some way or another. It started when I was a teen, eased, and came back after the birth of my second child in 2006 in the form of Postpartum Depression (PPD). This was a depression that I didn’t see coming, and I would not wish it on anyone. I didn’t want to do anything with my adorable baby or his 18-month-old brother. I just wanted to lay in bed and cry. I wanted to be left alone. I also knew this wasn’t right. I wanted to be a good mom to my babies, so I talked to my doctor. I was on medication until around my son’s first birthday, but it helped. I think his first smile also helped.
Years later, the depression came back when my marriage started falling apart- a deep, crushing depression that made it hard for me to get out of bed. I cried myself to sleep at night. I didn’t eat. I lost 60 pounds from stress and depression. I blamed myself for everything. I felt horrible about myself. It took two years but that depression still lingers. This time, I found a therapist.
How to Help
I am still in therapy, and I still struggle with bad days where the cloud hangs over me. I have a hard time brushing my teeth and taking a shower. I sit in bed and mindlessly watch TV and play on my phone. I don’t answer emails. It’s rough. The reality is, depression isn’t something to be ashamed of. It is to be treated. If you know someone that is depressed, check in on them frequently. Encourage them to take their medication, but don’t nag (that’s annoying, no matter who you are). If they go to therapy, ask them how it’s going. Ask them if they want some help with chores or errands. Most of all, just BE there. Sometimes that’s all we need, someone to help us into the light when all we can see is darkness.
Wrae Sanders is a life coach in Louisville, KY. Her business caters to those dealing with life’s transitions and parents of special needs children. When she is not coaching, she enjoys reading, true crime podcasts, and movies. She is married and has three children. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, her website, or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.