one of the most insidious things about depression is it doesn’t ‘feel’ like depression. even when you have it, you know you have it, you’ve been diagnosed—you still find yourself thinking, no, nope, this isn’t it, can’t be. it’s like the mental illness equivalent of that knight in monty python that keeps going ‘it’s a flesh wound! i’m fine, really! this is just a scratch, i’ll be up in a moment!’ even after all his limbs have been hacked off and he’s lying there helpless.
one of the most common narratives around it is that no one realizes they have depression until they start checking off what they consider to be normal aspects of their lives—and personal character flaws— against the checklist for depression symptoms. really key symptoms include:
- lack of motivation
- constant tiredness, even exhaustion
- finding no pleasure or satisfaction in activities they used to like, or that they know should feel good
- not seeing the point of doing anything
- increased and even unmanageable anxiety and fearfulness
any one of these symptoms drains away your ability to do work, cope with setbacks, overcome difficulties, or stop procrastinating. multiple symptoms create a pretty perfect storm of intertia and anxious self-loathing. you stop doing anything because it’s hard to get going, unpleasant while you’re at it, and afterwards there’s no reward. why bother, right? and when you’re always tired you get conservative of what little energy you can manage, and when you only feel emotions on the ‘empty to miserable’ spectrum you get really aversive to making mistakes. the whole mess very quickly and very insidiously loads every single thing in your life with toxic emotional baggage.
and then someone says to you— or you say to yourself, ‘stop being lazy’. and that haunts you forever. because you’re lazy! the work is so easy. everyone else does it. everyone but you, you lazy asshole, lying around all day not doing this totally easy thing that you should be able to but aren’t. you don’t have depression! of course not. mental illness is for victims, is for blameless innocent people who can’t be blamed for being so understandably sick. but you can be blamed. you have a character flaw, and it’s getting worse by the minute.
and that is how people who have been diagnosed, who have been medicated, who have been through therapy, can still spend all day hiding in bed and chewing themselves up over their failure to just somehow magically be a good, healthy, useful person, instead of treating themselves to a sick day and saying ‘yup! it’s depression. i need to be kind to myself.’
Omg words to the thing