Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. If you or someone you know has or might have depression, consult your doctor first.
I know depression isn’t the most glamorous topic to talk about. BUT! There are realities of depression that no one talks about, and those are what this post is all about.
I struggle with depression (read more about my story here) and there have been so many times that I’ve been like, “Damn. I wish that would have been in the depression-instruction-manual.”
Not that that could possibly be a thing, but sometimes having more preparedness, even with depression, is helpful. Hence why I’ve written this post for you!
This is for anyone who has found themselves down the rabbit hole of depression’s side effects and aren’t sure how to manage them. I want to give insight into what some of these problems are, and ALSO give some ways to cope (because I’m all for getting better over here!)
So let’s get into it.
1. Depression Is Not Just Sadness
Don’t get me wrong: general, sometimes unexplained sadness is definitely a part of it. But depression has so many more emotions wrapped into it. There’s anger, anxiousness, fear, and loneliness. In my opinion, depression encompasses all “bad” emotions.
And when we are suddenly hit with all of those emotions, it’s scary.
When I was in the worst part of my depression last year, I not only felt sad, but I was angry. Angry that I felt so bad. Angry that I couldn’t magically make myself better. Angry that my depression was putting dents in my relationships (more on that down below.)
And that’s just an example.
How to Cope
I’m gonna be honest here: I don’t really have a good piece of advice I can give to help cope with these unexpected emotions. And there’s a couple reasons why:
- every person’s depression brings different emotions at different times
- every person processes emotions differently
How I got through my emotions wouldn’t be the same process for anyone else.
The advice I can offer, though, would be to try and be as educated as possible. So if you’re reading this, congrats! You’re educating yourself. (And I really appreciate you.)
Even when we never expect to deal with something like depression, having some knowledge of what might be coming your way will be helpful.
Related: How to Acknowledge That It’s More Than Just a Bad Day
2. People Will Think You Can Just “Snap Out of It”
Oh boy. This one really grinds my gears. I wish I could get people to just understand that we can’t snap out of it. But alas, we deal with this ugly phrase all the time.
Frankly, if there was a way to suddenly make it go away, it wouldn’t be such a chronic disorder.
It’s really hard to be around people that think you can just snap out of it. (And if you’re anything like me, it makes you even angrier because you also wish you could just snap out of it, and you can’t.)
When you are depressed, having this sudden wave of misunderstanding from the people around you can make you feel even worse, and more isolated.
How to Cope
You can try finding the words to explain it. This can be super hard, I won’t lie. Something you could say is,
“I know that it doesn’t make sense from the outside, but it’s not something I can snap out of. It has more problems than I can easily explain and I’m working on getting through it.”
But if that doesn’t work, try and find people who don’t make you feel like you need to snap out of it. I know this can be really hard (I’m dishing out the tough love on a silver platter, today, aren’t I?) but it will be really beneficial!
Find people that accept what’s going on with you and offer help when they can and when you’re comfortable with it.
3. Judgement for Taking Medication or Going to Therapy
Wowowow this one also grinds my gears a lot.
People will, unfortunately, judge you for trying to seek out and receive help. I wish I had a one-size-fits-all reason for why they do, but I really don’t.
For example, when I started going to counseling last year, I had a handful of people think I was weak for seeing a therapist.
I’m sorry, what?
Let me make something very clear to all of you lovely readers: THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH GETTING THE HELP THAT YOU WANT AND EQUALLY DESERVE.
Can you guys tell that I’m getting a little fired up? Lol, but seriously the shaming is very real and upsetting.
There are people out there that think antidepressants are the worst thing ever. That think therapy makes you weak. That having depression isn’t a serious enough disorder to even need help.
They’re wrong, but, again, there’s not a whole lot I can do about that.
How to Cope
This one is as simple not letting their judgement get to you. (I know, I know, that’s not easy either.)
You have every right to get help in whatever form you need, because it will lead you down the path of healing, and that is the only thing you have to concern yourself with. Don’t worry about the rest of the people that don’t agree.
On the other hand, though…
4. Medication Doesn’t Fix It All
Oftentimes, I see people view medication as the glorious solve-all-my-problems solution.
That really just isn’t the case. Medication helps, but you have to know how to help yourself get better, too. As much as depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, there’s so many side effects and outside causes that you have to address yourself.
I hate to say it, but medication doesn’t make your problems go away.
I personally take an antidepressant and anti-anxiety pill, and it totally helps me, but I still struggle daily. I have outside issues I have to address, problems that arise, and insecurities I have to work through. I’m glad I take my medication because it helped me get out of my serious down-in-the-dumps funk, but it doesn’t make everything 100% better.
How to Cope
I think it’s best to view medication as an aid, and not as a solution.
It can make a huge, positive, difference for a lot of people, but don’t think it’s the only thing that will help you solve the problem.
5. Relationships Will Get Hard
One of the hardest parts of depression for me was finally realizing that it wasn’t affecting just me.
My relationship with my boyfriend became really tough when my depression was bad. I pushed him away, he thought I was mad at him, I was a lot less intimate and our distance at that time didn’t help matters at all.
I also stopped hanging out with my friends. I just wanted to lay in bed all day.
Depression will always have an effect on the people around you. Depression can change you, make you closed off, or make you super vulnerable. If the ones you surround yourself with take notice of these things, it might cause a problem you never expected.
How to Cope
Communication is absolutely key. You don’t have to spill your guts (lord knows I definitely would not do that) but letting the person know the basics of what’s going on will be really helpful.
For example, I learned to let Alex know if I was having a particularly bad day. I would just say something like, “I’m feeling pretty bad today. It’s not your fault and you didn’t do anything wrong, so I’m sorry. But bear with me.”
Just letting the person know that they aren’t to blame and you’re having an off day will prevent any problems from arising.
6. You Can Hide Your Emotions Like a Champ
Yeah, this one does seem counter intuitive a bit. But somehow, people that are depressed are the ones that hide any and all emotions the best.
Take it from me. I struggle with my depression on the daily, and I’m known at work for being the giggly, positive girl.
Let me be clear in that there is nothing wrong with that (I LOVE positivity and laughter!), but I can bet a lot of people wouldn’t know how much depression has affected me.
A lot of depressed people are like that. That, in part, is also why depression can be so hard to be around. It can make someone seem fake or like they never tell you the truth.
And what makes it worse, is that oftentimes they are just trying to find the words to ask for help, but they don’t know how.
People with depression are also known for trying to not put the weight of their problems on others, and therefore hides the depression behind carefully crafted masks.
How to Cope
Try and find one person you can open up to. Having someone to lean on is incredibly important. No one should ever have to carry the weight of depression entirely on their own.
You can talk to your best friend, your mom, your crazy-aunt-that-lives-next-door, or your dog. Therapy was a good option, personally, because I kind of suck at explaining my feelings.
You can also try journaling. I love to write in my journal daily because it’s somewhere I can vent, and it’s also great to track any patterns within your depression! I use a horizontal planner for journaling.
Check out this post from Kel of anxiouslass.com about what she uses to manage her mental health!
Knowing How to Cope with Depression Can Be Really Hard, But…
Depression NEEDS to be talked about more, and I want you to join me in spreading this conversation. Share this post and we can get more awareness out into the world!
Hey! Have you joined the Mental Health Empowerment Facebook Group, yet? Join it here!
Sending positive vibes your way,