Depression Can Be Hidden

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There is a reason why so many people don’t know when someone around them is depressed. Maybe even depressed enough to harm themselves. The lonely person has to put on a happy face and act like everything is OK, just to get through the day. The problem is, they are so far from OK. They are hurting, they are in pain, they feel alone.

Depression isn't always obvious, in fact, it's usually carefully concealed by those who are suffering. Dealing with the looks, remarks, and talks that come when one opens up about depression can be too much to bear on top of already feeling tormented inside. Can you spot the subtle hints to a person struggling with depression?

Sometimes that emotional pain manifests itself into physical pain and they find themselves at the doctor’s office trying to figure out why they have stomach problems, why they get headaches, why they have skin problems, or why they have trouble sleeping. Sometimes they complain about not being able to lose weight even though they are eating healthy, watching how much they consume and exercising a lot, yet the weight won’t budge. They may tell those around them what is going on, but no one takes the time to notice why a seemingly healthy person is having so many health issues. When nothing turns up in the tests, they may get told they are a hypochondriac or get told they worry to much… or that they are healthy, and things just happen to our bodies that we can’t explain.

Sometimes that pain is accompanied by a deep feeling of loneliness that becomes absolutely unbearable. Those around them say they had no idea the person was hurting, why didn’t they talk about how they felt? But they did. They tried to tell you about the pains and difficulties in their lives, but you didn’t want to hear it. The first few times you may have offered your help and advice, but then you got sick of hearing about the same thing over and over. The depressed person is sick of feeling the same thing over and over, but talking about it was helping them deal. Then the pained person slowly looses people to talk to about their problems because one by one people stop hanging around. One by one people give up on having to hear the same “complaint” over and over. You ask yourself, “Why can’t they just be happy?”, “Why can’t they just change their situation?”, “Why don’t they just put their foot down?”. If it was that easy, don’t you think they would? Who chooses to remain helpless and alone? Now they have no one to talk to, no one to turn to, no one to help give them that small bit of hope that the future will be alright.

Sometimes a depressed person does have people who stick around to listen, even if the problems seem repetitive, yet even then they know they can’t talk about how they contemplate suicide. That would cause a huge commotion and the kind of attention that would be too unbearable along with the pain they already feel. Imagine feeling sad, alone, and helpless and knowing if you talk to anyone about it you will be told you are just looking for attention, you are weak, or you brought this on yourself. If you can think about being in their situation, do you actually believe hearing those things will make you feel better? They won’t. They make some who is depressed feel worse. Like they are a complete failure who can’t even live life right, so why would they bother to keep trying. They might as well just sit quietly in their own head, where at least no one is telling them that they are wrong for feeling the way they do… but how long can one do that before the loneliness takes over?

Quite often people say, “I had no idea he/she was depressed, everything seemed fine!” But did you pay attention? Did you notice that they left small cries for help in everything they did as they tried desperately not to let on that anything was wrong because they knew if they admitted they were upset the advice they would get in return would be something like, “Smile, everything will be fine.” Smiling doesn’t heal a broken soul. Smiling doesn’t lift the dead weight that sits atop the heart. Smiling doesn’t bring the support needed, to make the changes necessary, to alter life in a way that will remove what is causing all the hurt. Did you notice they stopped talking about themselves? They stopped talking about their dreams and passions and started talking more about the weather and the mundane events of their day? Did you notice they were withdrawing from everyone in their life, one at a time, until no one really knew what was going on with them, because no one was talking to them? Did you notice that the last few times you talked, you failed to say, “How are you doing?” and meant it?

Yes, life is hard. We all face challenges. Some bigger than others. Some people have more challenges than others. It doesn’t mean that one person’s pain means less because someone else has it worse. Their pain is their pain and they have a right to feel like it is overwhelming even if you think your pain is worse. Many people have to deal with daily struggles that they don’t talk about, but day after day after day it wears them down and makes it that much harder to deal with the bigger struggles when they come along. Think of it this way, some people are born with the innate ability to work with numbers. Math comes easy to them, they just get it, and they go far with it, getting praise all the way. Other people are born with another part of the brain being their strongest, say, artistic abilities. The artistic person may struggle with numbers their whole life, never quite grasping the concept of math. Everyone else looks at them as being incapable, less intelligent, and requiring more time and energy. Meanwhile, the artistic person is creating beautiful art, but no one notices because they are too involved in thinking about how bad this person is at math. And math is more popular. Those who are good at math can’t understand at all, math comes so easy to them, how can it be so hard for this other person? The artistic person feels like a failure, like they were born wrong, or born into the wrong time/place/family/location. The artistic person becomes so overwhelmed thinking about how bad they are at math, they even forget how good they are at art. They lose who they are, they have no passion, they have no hope, they are a failure at everything. Some may even wonder why they should continue living when they can’t do anything right. If only someone had noticed that they were good at art. If only someone took the time to say, “It’s OK to not be good at something, everyone has their place and talent. Art is just as valuable as math. Even if art is the less popular subject, it’s what makes you, you, and you are valued for being just that.” But the world just keeps talking about math.

Today, the media is the largest and most accessible it has ever been. There are so many things shoved in our faces every day about who we should be, how we should act, and what our lives should look like. No matter how hard you try to ignore it, sometimes you can’t help but absorb some of it and wonder why you aren’t good enough. That’s where the ‘math’ comes in. Some people are just good at math (or, say, ignoring the pressures of life) and others just aren’t (but they still have their talents). The news of events are easier to access now and they reach people everywhere. This creates more fears, anxieties, and pressures to think about every single day. Even if you don’t pay attention to the news channels, it’ll still reach you. People still talk about it. You’ll still find out every time a celebrity kills themselves and there will be a burst of new articles and opinions about how we need to prevent suicide. How we need to let others know that it’s OK to ask for help.

I want to call attention to this by comparing it to medication. You have a physical symptom, you take medication. You don’t hear/see/feel the symptom anymore… but it’s NOT gone. The problem remains. You need to get to the source of the problem to remove the symptom so you won’t need the pill to make it through the day. Treating suicide is like taking medication. I’m not saying suicide awareness should stop… not at all. I’m just saying that we should be working on a more preventative level as well. How about teaching the importance of unconditional love, true concern, and non judgment for when those who are hurting are BRAVE enough to open up about it. If people knew they could open up about how they feel without being told they are weak, they need to go to a ‘head doctor’, or they just need to “get over it”, then it would be so much easier to say something and ask for help. It would be so much easier to reach out for the support they need, to help them thorough hard times, before they find themselves so alone that they feel death is the best option. And please keep in mind, there is no time limit on struggles and pain. Sometimes it lasts a short while and sometimes it last years. Can we teach our society to have the love and patience needed to stick by each other, even when it seems like the struggles will never end? Can we learn to set aside our small problems, to help those with bigger ones, trusting that when our small ones become bigger the favor will be returned? Can we put a little more attention on teaching people that feeling depressed is completely normal and should be treated with love, not isolation?

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