There’s a common misconception that depression is just being sad or feeling sorry for yourself. The truth is that there is so much more to depression than just “feeling sad.” As somebody with bipolar disorder who has been going through a depressive episode lately, let me share with you some of the other ways that depression can affect you.
Loss of Energy
People with depression are often accused of being lazy when they stop doing self-care or other “normal” tasks. In reality, depression can be accompanied by a massive loss of energy. Every move is like walking through sticky mud that sucks you in with each step. It’s not that I don’t WANT to do my dishes or take out the trash – sometimes, I simply don’t have the energy.
Sometimes depression isn’t about feeling sad; rather, you may feel nothing at all and can’t find the energy to care about anything. Thoughts accompanying apathy may include things like: “What’s the point?” “I don’t have an opinion,” or “Screw it – I know I’m making bad decisions, but I can’t be bothered to care right now.”
In me, apathy screws with my finances worse than just about anything. I’ve been dealing with financial struggles lately, but when I reach the apathetic stage of depression, I spend more money than usual on junk food. I know that I’m making my financial situation worse by spending money on delivery fees, but I just can’t be bothered to care.
In some ways, depression was easier to deal with when I was a dog groomer because it didn’t require much thinking. Now that I’m a full-time writer, my depression affects my income. On my worst days, my thoughts feel like they’re trudging through the same sticky mud as my body.
I recently had a day where it took me 10 minutes to write 5 sentences, followed by 5 minutes of staring through my computer screen before giving up for the day. Obviously, I want to be able to work and make money, but I can’t just put nonsense on a page and send it to my clients.
Depression often affects sleep, causing people to sleep more or less than usual. Typically, I sleep much more than usual when I’m depressed. About a month ago, I slept for 11 hours straight without even waking up to pee. Thank heavens my dog has a strong bladder!
On the other side of the coin are those sleepless nights when your brain just won’t shut up. I had one of those last night. I tossed and turned for an hour or two, got up to use the bathroom, slept for a couple of hours, tossed and turned, watched some YouTube videos on my phone, slept for another couple of hours, and got out of bed at 5:45 – more than an hour before my alarm was set to go off.
Physical Problems Like Unexpected Pain
I tend to have a lot of psychosomatic health problems when my mental health isn’t doing well. Everybody has different physical symptoms that may be attributed to depression, but one of mine goes like this:
I’ll wake up in the middle of the night in excruciating pain. Usually, it’s in my back, but sometimes it will be one of my arms. I’ve had back problems for 15 years, but let me tell you – this is a whole other kind of pain. It’s not the type of pain that a chiropractor visit or a massage will help.
I’ll get up, take some naproxen (Aleve) or ibuprofen, knowing that it won’t really help, and lay down on my heating pad with tears in my eyes due to the excruciating pain. Eventually, usually after 2-3 hours, I’ll fall asleep/pass out, and when I wake up in the morning, the pain is gone. I mean, so gone that the only proof I didn’t dream the whole thing is the heating pad still in my bed.
Luckily, I have an amazing therapist. I also take medication, but medication alone doesn’t work well to help me maintain my mental health long-term. I had an appointment with my therapist yesterday, and I’m more optimistic about my ability to pull myself out of this depressive episode sooner rather than later.
If you’re looking for a therapist who can help you recover from depression, you can email or call 970-498-0709 to make an appointment with one of our caring therapists.
You don’t have to feel this way forever. Therapy can help. All you have to do is reach out.