Depression is a Thief

Image result for thief

Most days depression steals your energy. It brings you to a complete halt. One day you have spurts of energy and the next day you are dragging your feet. Simple tasks like brushing your teeth become like climbing Mount Everest. I’m not exaggerating either. Depression completely zaps you of your energy. Often times I feel like I’m cemented into the ground, unable to move. It’s a type of paralysation where I forget that I have the ability to move. In reality though depression steals more than your energy. It robs you of anything of value in your life.

Other than your energy, the main thing it steals is your enjoyment. It turns your life upside down and sucks the color out of the world around you. To others the world is full of life and color but to a depression mind everything is dull and grey. You stop enjoying the things that you used to love. Everything becomes a bore. I tend to watch the same sitcom over and over because I have very little attention span to watch a new show. I usually am doing something else while the tv is on as well. I’m unable to just sit there and only watch what is on the screen. You can imagine how difficult it might be to not have anything give you enjoyment. It’s a pretty miserable place. You hop from activity to activity, desperately trying to find something to catch your attention.

If depression zaps the life out of entertainment you can imagine what it does to activities that involve meaning, like my creativity. Anything related to my creativity becomes a chore and I hate doing chores. When I am at my worst I want nothing to do with my gifts. It becomes painful to look inward at the good parts of me. Depression has become the voice of all my naysayers. The ones who told me that I was worthless. Anytime I try to create I hear the voices. I’m usually only able to create for small periods of a time. This has been true with the comic book (about a drag queen superhero) that I’m working on. I have been working on this comic book for over five years. I have times where I can’t even look at my illustrations. I go months without making any progress. Without depression I most likely would have finished the first issue by now. I have waited so long that now others have released their own drag queen superheroes. If I had the energy to finish it in year one mine would have been the first and most original. Now the magic won’t be as fresh.

Which brings me to success. Depression is a dream killer. It sabotages any advancement that you might have, whether it be from a job or a personal project like my comic book. The best job I have ever had ended because of my depression. I was working for GE. I had great benefits and pay. I had the best manager I had ever had. When you are a hard worker oftentimes management will take advantage of you, especially in retail. Finally I was valued for my hard work, determination and loyalty. I was involved in LGBTQ networking group and was moving up on the ladder. I was on track to becoming a trainer but depression robbed me of that opportunity. I was hospitalized and put on short term disability. I never returned to that job. Instead I self destructed and moved back home.

I had aspirations in becoming an actor. I was in the theatre program at my local community college in my early twenties. My favorite type of theatre was musicals. I took voice lessons for years. The first year at school I had a bad depressive episode. I was just cast the lead in the main theatre production at school, which was a dream of mine. I was in bed for weeks and stopped going to class. The role had to be recast and I barely passed that semester. That was also my last semester in that program. I dreamed a dream and depression killed it.

Another aspect of my life depression has robbed me of are relationships. For example, today I was supposed to hang out with a new friend but I woke up feeling horrible and had to cancel. This happens all the time, which makes it difficult to maintain friendships. Nowadays I don’t have many friends nearby me so I really look forward to the opportunity to do something with a friend. The last two days were decent, when I had nothing planned. Now that I have cancelled I have a great sense of regret, which happens more time than not. On days like today I have little energy. My apartment is usually not kept up and if someone is coming over I feel a great amount of shame. If I have to leave my apartment just walking to the bus stop takes too much energy. Hanging out with someone means having to brush my teeth and shower. Then there is the anxiety if it’s a first time meeting, like today was. So you might can understand why this all is too much when you’re not feeling well.

Most people understand if you cancel a few invites to do something. After that they start to question the relationship. With a depression mind you live in slow motion and the rest of the world is on fast forward, though they only see themselves on regular time. There is still a lot of stigma towards mental illness and many people take it personal when you cancel on them. In reality it has nothing to do with them. Depression takes the fun out of everything. Not to mention that I have pushed people away out of fear and moved around from state to state. So now in my forties I have very few friends, outside of Facebook. The only person I see regularly is my therapist. If it weren’t for our appointments I would spend all my time alone.

Even just one aspect of depression is enough to drive a person mad but when you start to add all them up it makes life pretty miserable. Each day is a challenge. I have lived most of my life with depression and I’m tired of having my life stolen from me. I’m determined to stop this thief anyway I can. That means treating depression like the disease it is. Taking my medicine and making sure I keep my weekly therapy appointments. Pushing myself when I can and using mindfulness to get rid of the thieves when they are on my doorstep. It’s not easy but I have to try. Life can’t be this depressing.

Image result for cop and robber

The Tough Act of Forgiveness

Related image

A long time ago, my father told me that I needed to forgive and forget the bad things that happened to me. It was from that moment that my views on forgiveness changed. Attached to forgiveness was forgetting the bad things, which meant no validation for my struggles. It certainly didn’t mean any accountability from the people who hurt me. So I held onto these great hurts until it turned towards hate. Slowly those grudges started to poison me. Twenty years later it had ripped through my soul like a massive forest fire. All that was left was mountains of ash.

At the time my pain wasn’t being validated. The people who hurt me were getting away with murder and no one was doing anything about it. Not only were they not taking responsible the people in my family saw me as a black sheep for speaking out against these bad deeds. My family didn’t believe they had done anything that deserved forgiveness. So they glossed over the bad things that were happening in my family in order to hide the guilt and shame. Sometimes the monsters are inside your family and my family was full of them. So I locked them away and put the pain in a locked box. I then hid it so good that I didn’t realize it was there. All I could see was the anger, hurt and betrayal.

A few years ago I realized how damaging it was to hold onto the anger. It had destroyed me. I let what people did turn me into someone I wasn’t. I took on their bad behaviors and actions, and blamed myself. I have come to realize that forgiveness is for me. It’s letting go of all the bad feelings that aren’t serving me any good. Yes, what they did was wrong but it had nothing to do with me. Holding onto their actions and waiting for retribution has stunted my growth.

So I have started to work on my anger, which is a lot of work. Once you no longer hide behind anger you are left to deal with the real pain. It’s a torturous sift through piles of suffering and sorrow. Returning back to the place where the harm was caused and rewiring your brain as your current healthy self. For someone with PTSD this is a real struggle, as sometimes I don’t have a choice and get flashbacked to there instantly.

With trauma comes loss. It’s not just the bad acts itself but the aftermath. When I came out about the sexual abuse at the age of eighteen I lost a big part of my family. I was seen as a black sheep from that moment on. Cousins that I had grown up with now saw me as the problem versus the predator in our family causing all the harm. Not to mention the loss of my intermediate family when I came out during this time as well. I didn’t get kicked out but I was treated poorly by my parents. It was a dark time in my life.

In many ways, I have lived the whole forgive and forget. I was never asked for forgiveness by my parents for how horrible they treated me. After the first couple of years of hell, everyone stopped talking about me being gay. I stopped being told repeatedly that I was going to hell and we went back to forgetting that I was different. I love my Mom dearly and came to terms with things before she died but it’s still something I hold onto. The hurt that she never said she was sorry for the way she treated me when I needed her most. Eventually she didn’t care and realized that being queer was who I was. It wasn’t a fad like she thought, nor do I think she believed that I was going to hell anymore. So that was good. She even defended me to a cousin of hers who was making the typical religious comments about it being an abomination. So that was wonderful to hear. I just wish I could have heard those two simple words. That first year I was so alone. I went from having a very loving mother to one that rejected me. That abandonment has lasted me a lifetime and something I still struggle with.

I have since realized that she was a flawed human being with her own demons and struggles. She had a hard life too. My grandfather was an alcoholic and she had to work in the muck fields as a child. My father treated her terribly and divorced her after thirty years of marriage, leaving her with nothing. The healthy side of me realizes that she did what she did out of fear. She truly believed that I would go to hell and felt I needed to be saved. My Mom loved me deeply and knew what that meant. So I can see that side of it.

My father on the other hand is a different story. I want nothing to do with him and haven’t for a long while. He was patient zero in my hate. I have since replaced hate with pity. My father hasn’t changed. He’s still just as toxic as he was when I came out. I no longer take it personal for what he did to me. A person can’t give what they don’t possess. It’s not to say that I don’t feel a great sense of loss because I do. I long for the Dad I deserved all these years. I have waited a lifetime and it’s left me in the dust waiting.

These tough acts of forgiveness are extremely difficult, almost impossible at times. I have come to have this attitude of, is this worth holding onto? I sometimes think we freak out about the little things because it’s easier to let loose of the anger on the trivial things. When a new person in my life rejects me it’s the trigger of abandonment that causes me to spiral out of control, not the act itself. In reality it usually has nothing to do with me. For example, someone recently stopped being my friend because of my mental illness. I had known this person for four months. What I would have done in the past is broken down. I would have spiraled into a dark depression and it could have led to a hospitalization. This time it didn’t because I was able to differentiate between the trigger and the act. Yes it hurt and stung but I didn’t have enough invested to fall apart. What I would fall apart about is the real pain of admandoments and rejects of the past. More specifically my family.

I have even started taking this concept to little things as well. Like my anxiety. A month ago I took public transportation for people with disabilities. What I thought would be a thirty minute car ride turned into almost two hours, which meant being late to my appointment. I could feel my anxiety start to boil over and my first reaction was to give into it. Then I started to think about what holding onto this anger was doing to me. Going into a rage (which I wouldn’t have verbalized) would only hurt me, so I let it go. I even had more things happen that night and I didn’t hold onto those either. In the past, something like this would have carried over for days but this time I let it go for good and paid no more attention to it.

Sometimes this is very difficult and something I have to practice all the time. Currently I can do this on rare occasions but I’m building up the skill slowly. When it becomes difficult to practice is when an action is particular triggering and severe. For example, I had a friend I have known for over fifteen years make some very transphobic comments. It’s shaken me to the core. Not only were those comments made, the person wasn’t very nice either. I have always had people lash out on me like this. I used to take it personal but now I realize that I scare people because of my authenticity.

My first reaction is to cut him out of my life. It’s a real difficult time in my life and I have to be very careful with my environment because I want to move forward, not backwards. Boundaries have become extremely a crucial aspect to the healing process. No only did my friend say derogatory things to me, he also didn’t respect my boundaries. Nor did he care how it would make me feel. The biggest struggle with this situation is how do I trust someone like this, who seems to have deep prejudices about who I am inside. A big part of me wants to villainize him but I know that only means holding onto anger. I have a track record of giving people too many chances and aren’t always a good judge of character as I only see the good in people and look past the red flags.

It’s tough to sift through the small details, especially when emotions are attached to every single little piece you pick up. Again my first reaction is to cut the person out of my life. It’s easier to put the person out of sight, out of mind. Just wipe my hands of another person who hurt me. It’s really tough to balance taking care of yourself and giving people the benefit of the doubt, and time to make amends. I have worked hard to realize that I don’t deserve the way he’s treated me. I also no longer will tolerate that kind of behavior. So I will give him the opportunity to explain what happened to apologize. It’s going to be tough to do because I have years of triggers to deal with.

Anything related to discrimination towards the LGBTQ is particularly triggering. So this interaction has brought to light the way my family treated me when I came out in 1995. So to have some similar attitudes towards being transgender just adds another level of hurt. So a challenge will be figuring out what emotion is attached to the present action and the past.

I have to remember that forgiveness comes in time and can’t be forced. I hope that this friendship can be salvaged but if it can’t I won’t take it personal. The interaction had nothing to do with me. Just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean that you have to keep them around. It’s really not for their benefit anyways. It’s about letting go of the hurt and pain. Realizing that holding onto the trauma isn’t healthy for you. It’s so much easier to be angry at someone than it is to feel the hurt. I want to hate my friend for how he treated me but I realize that it’s just a mask for the heartbreak. I never thought I would hear him say what he did about transgender people.

I have too much to worry about than to hold onto feelings that aren’t my own. Learning to let go of the significant stresses has allowed me to handle the bigger ones. My awareness of the situation has been increased dramatically. It’s given me the perspective to being in the moment, allowing me to be proactive to stop certain behaviors in its track.

We all have mountains to climb. I have climbed plenty in my time. I’ve learned that not every mountain I encounter is meant to be climbed. Then there are times that these mountains are really hills and are easily walked over. So I’m conserving my energy for the real work of forgiving myself.

An Okay Day

After the past week, the okay day I’m in has been a nice relief. My depression isn’t as severe and I’m starting to return to my body, I dissociated yesterday. When I woke up in the afternoon I felt really comfortable. I should have stayed awake but I took advantage of the comfort and laid back down. That was a mistake because I woke up feeling like a cement truck hit me. Even still it’s a pretty okay day for me and I’m happy for that.

The last week has a roller coaster ride of emotions due to medicine changes. I would be stable for a few days and crash for a few more. I had an incident with someone the other day and it sent me spiraling into trigger mode. I didn’t realize it but when that happened I started to dissociate, which is normal for me with PTSD. I didn’t realize how far I had gone until a social gathering last night. The more I listened to others the more I started to float away, as I started to think about my pain. I wanted to leave right away but was stuck because I rode with someone. So I started to use my coping mechanism and started to tear apart a paper plate.

It wasn’t really anything that anyone was saying, it was just I couldn’t handle any connection. Especially positive ones. By the end, I was close to be asking to go to the emergency room but I kept it together. Today there was an inspection of all the apartments at my complex, so I had to clean a super dirty kitchen. Which just added to my anxiety. When I get really depressed my eating habits change, so do my chores. I have been trying to cook more, as it’s more fulfilling than frozen food but that usually means more of a mess. So I would cook a meal and leave everything behind. It was either that or starving.

So my kitchen was a fright and smelled like a beast. I somehow found the energy to slowly clean my kitchen. I took my time and turned my air conditioning on high. By the time I was done at 6am I was exhausted. My kitchen is the cleanest it’s been since I moved in last July. So having a clean apartment definitely has contributed to this decent day.

So I’m going to enjoy this okay day the best I can. I made a really good bacon cheese burger for lunch and it was delicious. Now I’m making pizza rolls and watching a British comedy. I have learned to treasure the okay days, along with the good ones. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Am I a Negative Nancy?

Image result for negative nancy

Someone recently said that I’m negative, well the last two months. It was a friendship that I decided to end due to the fact that it was toxic. I give people too many chances and I was pushed to my limit when the person lashed out at me calling me negative. I mean that wasn’t the only reason I ended our friendship but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It did plant a seed in me, as much as I have tried to not let it. I’m strong enough to realize that this person lashing out at me had nothing to do with me but still it did open a wound in regards to the stigma related to depression. That those with depression are just negative and need to be more positive. I wish the cure to depression was only positive affirmations but that’s not the reality. Sure mindfulness is one part of the healing process but it’s this idea that it can be cured by a sunny disposition is harmful to those who suffer from depression.

Many don’t realize that I sometimes just wake up feeling depressed. Yes, sometimes it’s related to my environment and/or trigger but a lot of times it has to do with my brain chemistry. It affects more than just my mind. I get almost like flu symptoms. It feels like my skin is crawling and I have this heavy fog that clouds my brain.

I try to have a positive outlook on life and what I endure but sometimes it’s difficult. I have few people I can talk to about what I’m enduring. So my only outlet is to post on Facebook. Those who read my posts might think that I’m just being negative. If they had to live my life for one day I think they would be more empathetic towards me.

If you could only hear all the positive self talk that I must do when my demons are at my door. You just can’t hear them. To survive this long under so much pressure means that I’m a pro at surviving. That doesn’t mean my quality life is any better. The experience have given me the tricks of the trade to lesson the symptoms, though when I’m super depressed nothing helps.

When you see me posting on Facebook it means that I’m deep in turmoil. I don’t just automatically post when I feel something. When I do it means I have sit in misery for hours, if not days. If I shared what was in my head, then you’d really think I was negative. The demons in my head are loud, evil and up to no good. This is what I fight against daily. When my depression is at my worst I have this gigantic mob that take up space in my consciousness. They follow me everywhere I go and there is nowhere to run and hide. No relief to be seen. I can only just wait it out. Practice self care and hold onto dear life.

Some argue that I am sharing way too much information online. They’d rather me suffer in silence I guess. Like Shrek always says, better out than in. Oh wait, he was talking about something entirely different but it applies to this as well. Honestly I wish I didn’t have to share things so openly but my support system currently is my therapist. So it’s either release the tension openly or let it fester and eat me up inside.

Last weekend was a really difficult weekend for me. The last two months my psychiatrist has been trying different medicines to find a better fit for me. This latest attempt set my depression spiraling and I was struggling to keep afloat. Once again I was very close to be hospitalized. Whenever I have a bad episode like this I become very hopeless that the suffering will ever stop. Each time I dig myself out of that hole and start to feel better I get this sense that maybe this will be the day. The day when I get out of this bad place in my life. Where I will suffer less and live more. So when a few weeks later my depression takes a hit then I go back to being hopeless. I have cycled like this for the past twenty years.

I had a psychiatrist appointment this past Monday and he put me on a new med. By Wednesday, I was feeling dramatically better. I had two days where I felt like myself. That was until last night when I could feel the depression coming on and I dreaded it. I can hear the voices getting louder, the demons who haunt me. Today has been tough, not because of the depression but because what the depression comes from. Being aware gives you clarity but sometimes your helpless to stop the car crash.

I’m so extremely lonely. It’s unbearable most the time. I struggle just to get out of bed. I have very little energy and most my days are spent alone. I have no one. I’m like one of the old ladies I live with. No one comes to visit me. No one calls. I don’t talk to anyone regularly, other than my therapist. My days are spent watching tv and being on social media. It’s not to say that I haven’t tried to have a more fulfilling life but it’s not come by easy. You just don’t pull a support system out of thin air. I miss the days of having so many friends that I was doing something all the time. I miss going to the movies and laughing so hard you almost fall on the floor. I miss going to parties and eating good food. I miss my family. I miss my Mom.

I want so much out of life and often times I have no energy to reach for the stars. All the energy I have to just get through each day. I have to remind myself of what my favorite drag queens says. Rupaul says, what other people think of you is not your business! Some people might think I’m just being negative but those people don’t have to live my life. If you really cared about me then rather than judge me from the sidelines you’d reach out for support. It’s so much easier to pass judgment in silence. I don’t have time to worry about the naysayers. I have enough to deal with.

Today I’m A BLT

Image result for blt

As much as I love bacon, this post isn’t about food. Lately I have been struggling with having nothing sufficient to do outside of my apartment. I’m talking about anything with meaning, that gets me out of the house. Occasionally I do get out of the house, like my transgender meetings but those aren’t consistent and only happen once in a while. I go weeks without very little contact with the outside world. When I do it’s just brief hello’s in the hallway of my apartment building. That’s not enough to live off of.

All last year, I didn’t want to leave my apartment because of PTSD. Now that I want to venture out occasionally I’m stuck in this inbetween world. Now you might suggest volunteering but the problem is that I’m awaiting my second SSI disability appeal court date. The judge could use it against me. The last one did because I made a sculpture and went to NYC with it. So I have to be very careful. I have been waiting since 2014 and it’s crucial that I get approved, as it will improve my quality of life. Currently I live off state disability and if I told you how little I got you’d probably wonder how I lived off so little for so long. It’s not easy and leads to a very miserable life.

I’m not saying that I don’t have purpose because I do. I have my comic book is a huge reason to live. I’m still in the early stages of the creation so that means it has very little to do with the outside world. Plus it’s difficult to create when I’m really depressed. It zaps all creative energy out of me. It becomes painful to create, as it forces me to see my talents and good inside. Even still it means staying in my apartment for long periods of time. More times than not, I don’t want to be in my apartment. I get so bored and lonely that I start to feel like I’m losing it. The alternative to dealing with the uneasiness is to sleep. You can only sleep for so long before it starts to drive you mad. A big part of me wants connection and the other part is beyond frightened from it. Sometimes even my transgender support groups (as wonderful they are for me) can become difficult for me to endure. The last one I had to leave early due to anxiety.

I’m currently have the scared rabbit syndrome, something I have made up. A rabbit’s life can be full of danger. It’s small and fragile, living in a world full of predators ready to rip it’s head off. Out of protection the rabbit lives in a hole in the ground, where it’s generally safe. Well safer than above ground. Occasionally the rabbit will have to leave the comforts of the rabbit hole for food. It doesn’t just come out of it’s home full force. It will peek out to look for dangers. When it feels like it is safe to come out it does slowly. The rabbit is constantly on guard while it scavenges for food. Even the littlest sound will send the rabbit darting back downunder the rabbit hole.

That is where I live. I have used up all my reserves and now must venture out into the real world. I get spooked very easily and have ran back into my rabbit hole more times than I can count. I can’t hide here any longer though, it’s killing me. I no longer have the mental capacity to brave the darkness anymore. So I have a sort of forced solitude.

I could take another year to a decision on my SSI case and god forbid if it doesn’t go my way. So I have to deal with this solitude somehow, some way. Making new friends is a long process. Unfortunately cultivating friendships isn’t like growing sea monkeys. It’s going to take more time than I need to endure this solitude. So I’m going to have to cope with it the best I can. I think the key is practicing self love. Following the steps that led me to where I am today. Even though I struggle greatly and suffer a lot, my quality of life has improved in the last year. I finally have a place of my own. I have a therapist and psychiatrist I adore. I have stability which is something I have never had. I just need to hold on until this storm passes and I can venture out more openly and freely. So that means dealing with constantly being bored, lonely and tired most days.

There is a Difference Between Being Depressed and Having a Bad Day

Everyone has the gloomy days where you stay in bed, where you are you feel blue. Whether it be from having a bad day at work or a fight with a loved one, it’s a common occurrence. You can’t go through life without some sort of sadness. Depression is much more than sadness. Most people probably don’t realize there are more than one type of depression. Many group clinical depression with feeling blue and that’s harmful to people who have the illness. There is still a lot of stigma related to mental illness and I think that’s why people try to pass off all depression as having a bad day. I wish my depression were just bad days.

There hasn’t been a time in my adult life that I haven’t been depressed in some form or another. I have heard the phrase, just snap out of it, more times than I wish to share. Many don’t understand how one day I can be upbeat and the next I’m not. They expect me to be on 24/7. If I were to describe my depression, it’s like living in the upside down in the tv series Stranger Things. The world I view is entirely different than most. I live in constant dysthymia. There isn’t a day when I don’t have at least a mild case of depression. I can go through these moments of low grade depression from weeks to months. Deep depression is always close to me and it doesn’t take a lot for me to spiral out of control.

I use to be able to bounce back from the deep depression but since my Mom died in 2012 I haven’t been able to. Most of my days are spent near the bottom of the barrel. In the past, my major depressive episodes usually lead to being hospitalized. Within a year or so, I was always about to move forward. I haven’t been so fortunate during the last seven years.

I have what you call major depressive disorder. My blue days don’t go away. The symptoms from this depression are usually severe. The major symptom is having zero energy. It’s like being cemented to ground. It feels impossible to move and doing so is like walking through quicksand. Depression can manifest physically as well. When I’m really depressed I feel lethargic. It’s like having the flu without the chills, temperature or nasal symptoms. Everything is dark and I live in a sky is falling state. I wouldn’t wish this form of depression on my worst enemy. These symptoms can usually last for weeks. I will withdraw from everything, especially anything to do with the outside world. I stop eating and oversleep. Light is not my friend and my apartment becomes a prison cell. The deeper depression (especially if it’s related to an event) the more I lose all sense of reality. I get tunnel vision and can only see the darkness, and I do whatever I can to stay away from the dangers of the light. I suffer greatly and often.

I also have treatment-resistant depression, meaning my doctor has tried multiple medicines and there’s been very little relief. Imagine living with depressed for years and have little to no relief. It will cause you to go mad. In the last year, I have been hospitalized twice. I have been close to needing hospitalization even more times this last year. I also suffer from PTSD and anxiety, which just adds to the severity of depression. It all can lead to a lot of suffering. I’m so desperate for relief. I take seven (well until today) psychiatric meds with little relief. I’m starting to consider alternative treatments like ECT and ketamine treatments.

To understand depression it’s important to discuss the various forms of depression. One of the most widely forms is Postpartum Depression. It’s when significant hormonal shifts affect a woman’s mood. The depression can be onset during or after pregnancy. The symptoms can range anywhere from a persistent lethargy and sadness that requires medical treatment to postpartum psychosis, which is a condition in which the mood episode is accompanied by confusion, hallucinations or delusions.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is when someone experiences depression during the winter the winter months but not during all the other months of the year. It’s believed that SAD is triggered by a disturbance in the normal circadian rhythm of the body. Light entering through the eyes influences this rhythm, and any seasonal variation in night/day pattern can cause a disruption leading to depression.

Bipolar depression is an aspect of being bipolar. Many people think bipolar is riding the highs but usually that leads to a crash into a deep depression. When you’re in the low phase, you’ll have the symptoms of major depression. Not as commonly known, people with bipolar II disorder do not experience true manic episodes, where their mood and energy levels are so high that it causes trouble with work and socializing and may cause psychosis. However, this does not make bipolar II disorder less severe than bipolar I disorder. In bipolar II disorder, the depressive episodes are similar to those in bipolar I disorder and cause significant disruption to the person’s daily life for an extended time. You occasionally have high moments like with bipolar but they aren’t usually as extreme or long lasting. Often the number of episodes are not as frequent as well.

If you experience depression that lasts long than a two week period then you might have Major Depressive Disorder. Symptoms include depressed mood, lack of interest, changes in weight and sleep, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, poor concentration and thoughts of death/suicide. Also called clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave. Clinical depression can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living.

The next form of depression is Atypical Depression. It’s defined by the ability to feel better temporarily in response to a positive life event, plus any two of the following criteria: excessive sleep, overeating, a feeling of heaviness in the limbs and a sensitivity to rejection. Those with atypical depression are also likely to have a history of social phobiaavoidant personalities, and a history of body dysmorphic disorder.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) produce similar symptoms to premenstrual syndrome but those related to mood are more pronounced. Symptoms may include extreme fatigue, mood swings, bouts of crying, irritability, inability to concentrate and feeling sad/hopeless/self-critical.

Situational depression is when you are having trouble managing a stressful event in your life, such as a traumatic event or change in a person’s life. Doctors call this is a “stress response syndrome.” It often resolves in time, and talking about the problem can ease the recovery process. Situational depression stems from a struggle to come to terms with dramatic life changes. Recovery is possible once an individual comes to terms with a new situation. For instance, following the death of a parent, it may take a while before a person can accept that a family member is no longer alive. Until acceptance, they may feel unable to move on with their life.

The next form of depression is Persistent Depressive Disorder. Dysthymia refers to a type of chronic depression present for more days than not and lasts longer than two years. It can be mild, moderate or severe. Some experience a mild, low-grade depression. They might not even realize that they are depressed. Everyone will experience periodic feelings of depression in response to sad or stressful life events but feeling constantly depressed could mean you have persistent depressive disorder. You’re normal level of mood is never at the typical flatline of most. You usually live in the land of inbetween the normal and deep depression levels. Occasionally you will reach the normal flatline of most, the highs and lows but usually you live in a moderate level of depression.

The last form of depression is Treatment-resistant Depression. Those suffering from this condition have been treated for depression but symptoms haven’t improved with the use use of medication. With treatment-resistant depression, standard treatments aren’t enough. There are also somatic (nondrug) therapies, including transcranial magnetic stimulation—which targets nerve cells in the region of the brain involved in mood control and depression—and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which induces changes in brain chemistry to help reverse symptoms of TRD.

My goal is to educate others in order to elevate the stigma that leads to those with mental illness from getting the help they need. Often times mental illness is treated as a myth. A condition that doesn’t exist. If others can get past the blues so can everyone else. Sadly it doesn’t work that way. There is no switch to turn off. There is also no cure to depression. You just have to treat the symptoms the best you can.

Those with mental illness deserve love, care and support. Unconditional love is something not often give to those with mental illness. People treat you like a pirah. They don’t understand when you have to cancel a date or when you can’t get out of bed. If they are forced to live life like the rest, then you should be able to do so well. Many don’t know what to say, so they don’t say anything at all. You don’t need to have the perfect words to be there for support. All you need to provide is an ear to listen and a soft shoulder to cushion their troubles. It’s better to stumble all over your words and fear saying the wrong thing, than saying nothing at all. You reaching out could be the difference between living and dying. Another common misconception is that those who suffer with mental illness can ask for help. So many are lost in the disease and have lost hope in asking for help. The mental health system makes it different to heal and many have tried multiple attempts to manage the symptoms with no luck at all.

We might not be able to verbalize the words help but often times we are sending the SOS but no one is paying attention. This could be withdrawing and isolating from the people they love. We must start to identify the symptoms in others and take action. If you wait for the person to ask for help, it might be too late. If you know someone suffering (especially if they are suicidal) it’s life and death to take them serious.

Here are some warning signs. If someone is showing signs of one or more it might be a good idea to check in there wellbeing. You don’t need to have solutions. Just be there. You don’t even need to confront them on this. Just be there and be consistent. Don’t give up on the person either.

  • Isolating, not leaving your home
  • Pulling away from the ones you loved.
  • Not answering calls/text/emails
  • Cancelling repeatedly various activities
  • Staying in bed for long periods. Sleeping too much or not at all.
  • Having a messy home. Overflowing trash can and sink. Plates and pizza boxes littering your living room.
  • Poor personal grooming. No showering is a big one or changing clothes.
  • Loss of interest. Nothing brings you enjoyment or fun.
  • Not eating or overeating. Sometimes both.
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Hopelessness, helplessness, guilt

This is just the start of this list, what I usually do. Each person is different. I would say if you notice a big change in your loved ones behavior and actions then something could be going on. Especially if they are hitting multiple warning signs. The key is being there for them. We don’t usually want solutions or advice, we just need to know that we aren’t alone in this world. Alone with our pain and suffering.