The following extract, written by an apparently normal glamorous and successful woman illustrates the reality that we cannot know what goes on in the minds of other people.
The main symptom for me, is a feeling of sadness, deep inside. It is a lost, very negative feeling, almost of quiet desperation. Overlaying that is a heavy feeling of apathy, accompanied by a feeling of lethargy. It doesn’t matter.
I lose interest in everything in the outside world. Certainly I have no appetite, no desire to cook, or eat anything put in front of me. I cannot read, sometimes at all. I’m not even interested in TV.
Fear. I fear life more than death. Death is my friend, my refuge. The external sleep from which I will never have to face the despair, the disappointment of another day. When will peace finally come for me?
The sad thing is not being able to be understood because this is something that others can’t see. I am watching a move of me. Life is not reality. I see others living in reality – how I envy them – how unobtainable this seems. In a room full of people I feel so alone. I want to stop the merry-go-round so that I can get off.
I plan in detail my life’s end by night, then by day I wake with the fear of my thoughts. The hurt and anguish that I would cause those who I cherish keeps me existing in this hell. I just can’t wait to grow old so that nature will end all this torment for me – you see I also fear death. I’m a coward.
THE IRONY IS THAT IF YOU KNEW ME YOU WOULD NEVER SUSPECT.
WHY CAN’T THEY SNAP OUT OF IT?
ANSWER: Because you can snap out of being a bit unhappy or a bit down, but you cannot snap out of illness, either physical or emotional.
If your leg is broken, your body cannot function properly. If the chemistry controlling your emotions is broken, as it is in depressive illness, the affected person cannot function properly. Nobody wants to be sick and unable to function or enjoy life.
In many ways, depression is like Diabetes. When the illness is in its early stages, or is very mild, the individual’s own efforts and health precautions can wipe out most or sometimes all of the symptoms. However, when the illness becomes more severe, no amount of individual effort can compensate for the chemical imbalances that are going on inside the body and the mind. Individual efforts at this stage can be helpful, but nearly every person who is pretty sick finds they just cannot any longer make the efforts required.
It is very strange to look at someone who tells you they have depression, and try to understand that they are very sick and are suffering very badly, and indeed in some cases may die from the illness. However, internal emotional pain is with the person continuously, no matter how they look on the outside. Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister who led England through WWII, described his own depression as “a black dog that follows me everywhere”.
Most people with depression try very hard to appear normal in public, but find it too much effort to keep up the same big act 24 hours a day. Psychiatrists often describe people struggling on and trying to hide their symptoms in public situations as “the walking wounded”. Because you know the person well, you however will realise they are not their normal selves.
It may put the issue into perspective when you hear that many patients who have had severe physical illness, including heart attacks, kidney stones, or cancer, state that depression causes worse suffering.
Important Disclaimer: This site is medical information only, and is not to be taken as diagnosis, advice or treatment, which can only be decided by your own doctor.