Hopelessness

Hopelessness. That is the overwhelming feeling that affects you when you have depression. The feeling that nothing is ever going to get better. That nothing is going to change.

I know that is not the case. I know things are going to change. I am making steps to change my life, but I still feel hopelessness. I still feel despondent and dejected. I still feel like people do not like me, that they are not ever going to like me and that I am going to be alone for the rest of my life.

I feel that I will never find a job that I like and I will never finish college. I’ve worked at so many different jobs over the years and I’ve tried to finish college, twice. I feel like nothing is working out for me.

With depression, there is a major difference between knowing, feeling and doing. I know that I can do anything I put my mind to, I’ve done it before. But I feel like I’m never going to succeed in life. I know my apartment needs to be cleaned, but I cannot find the motivation to clean it. I know that I am not worthless, but I feel like I am.

The other night, I found out that the job I really wanted had been offered to and accepted by someone else. While talking to a friend, he gave me the advice that instead of speaking in terms of definitives, like I’m never, I should recognize that it is only a feeling. I need to stop reinforcing the idea that ‘I am’ or ‘I am not’ something and need to recognize it is only a feeling. I am not discounting the feeling because it is obviously there for a reason. But it is not a certainty and I need to remember that.

I am sick of feeling the way I do. Sick of being told that I like feeling this way. Sick of being told that I am a negative or pessimistic person. Yes, I view the world with a ‘glass half empty’ mentality, but I think that way for a reason and I can’t help it. Instead of telling me that “I need to get over it” or “just pull yourself up by your bootstraps”, maybe you should try helping me or gain a better understanding of what I’m going through.

Trisha Goddard, a British actress, has survived both depression and breast cancer. She is quoted as saying, “Cancer’s not the worst thing I’ve faced – that was depression. With depression, nobody brings you flowers, and the doctors can’t operate and tell you you’ll be free of the disease within weeks.”

People can’t see your suffering, so they assume you’re not suffering. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We are all suffering, whether it is work, stress, school, etc. It just affects some of us more than others.

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Being Diagnosed

If you think you have depression, the first step you need to take is to make an appointment with your primary care physician.

Before your appointment, you should get an in-depth family history. You should also include any symptoms and behaviors, whether they seem related or not, as well as personal information including stress, life changes and lifestyle habits (exercise, diet, sleep, alcohol & drug use). The doctor will also ask for all medications, vitamins and supplements, both prescribed and over-the-counter, that you are taking. It is usually best to sit down and write out this information before your appointment, to insure that you remember everything.

During your appointment, your doctor will ask a lot of questions. Many of these questions may seem extremely personal, but you need to answer them as honestly as possible. The doctors won’t judge you, they want to make sure you get the help you need. The doctor may do a physical exam to rule out a physical health problem. They may also do lab test including a blood test to check your thyroid. An overactive or underactive thyroid will also present the same symptoms as depression. You might also have to have a psychological evaluation. Don’t hesitate to ask questions anytime you don’t understand anything.

To be diagnosed with depression, you must meet the symptom criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association. This manual is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment. As previously discussed, major depression is characterized as having more than 5 of the symptoms discussed in a previous post, for over a 2 week period.

If you see your primary care physician, get referrals for a psychiatrist and/or a psychologist. I will go into more detail on the differences between the two in another post.

If you are diagnosed with depression, seek the help that you need. Be your own advocate & realize you are not alone.

Thoughts for the Day 1/19

Today has been an interesting day. This year hasn’t started off well, and there are days when I wonder if things are ever going to get better. Honestly, my year started off with my boss cutting my hours from 40 hours a week to less than 20. The plus side, is that it has given me the push I’ve needed to find a new job. The negative, is that I’m not very optimistic about this job search. I’m worried that I’m not going to get called for interviews, that I’m not going to find a new job and that I’m going to burn through my savings trying to stay independent. All of which leads to today.

I’m only working three days this week, which gives me plenty of time to fill out applications on my job search. The downside is that I’m left with a lot of time at home, alone. I got off work today at noon, having an early shift and my first thought when I was getting off was that I didn’t want to go home. The problem is that I don’t have anywhere else to go. I’m sure it would be very different, if I had someone or even a pet, waiting for me at home; if I was not alone all of the time.

I’m so scared that I’m going to spend my life alone. I’m scared that I’m never going to find that person to be with, to marry. I want a family and I’m scared that’s never going to happen. At this point, I feel like I’m facing an entire lifetime alone, and that’s not something I want to face.

I guess, in a lot of ways, I’m a high functioning depressive. I get up and go to work. I try to get things done in my life. Most of the time, it’s because I have to. I want to be independent. I don’t want to need to rely on anyone, and I’m so scared of losing that independence, that freedom. I’m scared that I’m never going to get my feet back under me after being so severely knocked off them when my depression hit.

I was on track to graduate college with a double major and a minor, a semester early. All of that derailed my junior year. Maybe that is all for the best. I was studying a major I did not want. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I may not be any better off than I was three years ago, but at least I have a better view of what I would like to do with my life.

I might never succeed in my dream, but this blog is the start to it, so at least I’m taking a step in the right direction. I don’t know if things will work out for me, but if I stay scared, if I don’t try, I’ll never succeed. So here is my first step. This blog, no matter how scary it can be to share your innermost thoughts with the world, is my first step to my dream and hopefully, it will lead me to where I want to be. Hopefully, this blog is providing insight, help and hope to those suffering from depression. And hopefully, it’s providing progress, tolerance and awareness to those who have family or friends suffering from depression.

Adapt – Advocates for Depression Awareness, Progress and Tolerance

Become an advocate. Speak out.