Depression is called a “disease,” but it is so much more; it’s a state of separation. People suffering from depression tend to feel separate from everything and everyone, including themselves. The word “depressed” is frequently misused in our society. Many people use the word depressed to describe when they are feeling sad, but “depression” is so much more than sadness. There are a variety of factors in depression, as well as varying degrees per individual; it can be all of them or a mixture of them, which is why depression is often easily mistaken or overlooked. Many of the depressed people themselves do not recognize their symptoms for what they truly are. Some of the main debilitating factors are: A tendency to feel lost and alone, feelings of hopelessness, unmotivated and disinterested in most or all things, an inability to think clearly, lethargy, a disturbance in eating or sleeping or both (i.e. binge eating or insomnia) and crying inexplicably. Some manage to continue functioning but do so with symptoms interfering significantly. Others can be around many people and still feel terribly alone.
Depression has many masks and some sufferers even hide it intentionally out of shame and fear. Others minimize their symptoms not wanting to admit they are depressed and even lie to their doctors resulting in being undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. This confusion of recognition in itself is a huge problem. It is also common for those who encounter a depressed person to feel uncertain as to “how to react” or “what to do,” and feel awkward and helpless. This helplessness tends to make people want to fix things or run away, but those who stay and want to help would benefit greatly from detailed guidelines that explain exactly how to accommodate what is needed. It isn’t easy for those observing depression to understand why the person suffering doesn’t just jump up and act on the suggestions given as solutions when they seem so possible and realistic, but looking through the eyes and experience of depression is nothing like the reality others see. People who mean well and try to “fix” the depressed with suggestions or solutions tend to do so in an unemotional manner and depression is an emotional and usually chemically imbalanced state, so to the depressed, cerebral offerings feel invalidating and the furthest from they are truly needing, which comes from the heart; understanding, sensitivity, compassion, support and love.
That natural tendency for others to want to fix a depressed person can be destructive for several reasons, a few being: The unintentionally harmful assessment that they “need to be fixed,” which only serves as confirmation to the depressed person that they are in fact broken, and are as defective as they already view themselves; another is, any of those offered “solutions,” may sound relatively simple to those not depressed, but they sound confusing to those unable to think clearly, causing additional feelings of overwhelm. Sometimes, even hearing suggestions while depressed can feel overwhelming because it contributes to the already existing feelings of guilt for not doing what they themselves have already thought of but feel too immobilized to accomplish with no energy, hope or desire to achieve them.
Depression makes it appear and feel like there is no answer, no matter what the suggestion or offer of help, which subsequently increases the horrible feelings of hopelessness and futility; and, what increases their feelings of isolation is the repeated proof that no one understands what they’re going through, as indicated by the intellectual and sometimes patronizing suggestions they receive. This can cause them to get defensive which confuses those who thought they were helping. Many depressed people are so consumed by their overwhelming “cocoon of depression” that it doesn’t even occur to them to reach out for help, and for some, the depression worsens due to not having anyone to reach out to. Depression can easily create the perception and belief that you aren’t worthy of help, or for that matter even asking for it and all you feel is defective and lost in the maze of your dark world. Then there are those who think of it and want to call someone but feel scared to do so for fear of other’s reactions, or worse, interference that can feel threatening, i.e. being taken out of their surroundings that feel safe while depressed or being taken to a hospital against their wishes and losing control of whether or not they can leave.