Depression can cause a range of different symptoms. Some of them are regularly talked about. Many of them are not.
Whatever symptoms we are experiencing, we are not alone. There are many other people all over the world who share the same struggles that we do.
1. BEING UNABLE TO MAKE DECISIONS
We can feel completely paralysed and unable to make decisions. They often aren’t particularly difficult decisions. It could be something as straightforward as deciding which jumper to wear. But our brains feel so slow and clogged up that we are unable to decide anything at all.
2. DREADING BEING ALONE
Although we often struggle socially, we can also dread being alone. When alone our thoughts and feelings can feel amplified. Without the distraction of other people, they can become completely overwhelming and all-consuming.
3. GETTING STUCK
Sometimes we get stuck. We might sit on the toilet and not move for half an hour. Sometimes we will drive home and then stay in our car, on the drive, for a while before making it into the house. We might run a bath and sit in it until it goes cold. Our body feels heavy and we just don’t have the energy or motivation to move.
4. HIDING IN BATHROOMS
Many people left their hiding in bathroom days behind once they left school. But we will often find ourselves diving for the nearest toilet for a bit of a break from the world. It can be at social situations, when out for a meal, when in town, or somewhere else. Sometimes we just need a bit of a break from the world, and a little bit of breathing space.
5. ISOLATING OURSELVES
We often struggle with social situations when we’re low. We don’t know what to do or say. We often don’t feel part of the group of people we’re with. We struggle to concentrate enough to follow conversations. We feel like we’re bad company and like people are ‘putting up’ with us. We feel like people don’t want us around. So we isolate ourselves. We stay away from people. To protect ourselves to some extent, but also to protect those around us.
6. NOT BEING ABLE TO EXPRESS OURSELVES
Sometimes we want to cry, but we can’t. Sometimes we want to talk, but we feel mute. Sometimes we want to be creative, but our creativity has all dried up. We rarely have the words, colours, or music to match our feelings. We don’t know how to help others understand what’s going on inside our heads. So we are silent.
7. NOT CARING ABOUT OUR SAFETY
We stop caring about whether we live or die. We don’t look when we cross the road. We don’t take as much care as we should when driving our car or riding our bike. We walk through a risky bit of town, in the dark, by ourselves. We don’t wear our bike helmet. We completely stop caring about our own personal safety.
8. NOT TAKING OUR MEDICATION
From the outside, it can be hard to understand why we wouldn’t take medication designed to help us feel better. But taking medication can be really hard – sometimes it can feel impossible. We feel hopeless, so trying medication can feel pointless. We don’t care about ourselves. We feel as though we deserve to feel rubbish because we are a bad person. We sometimes forget doses.
It can be really scary taking medication, too, because we don’t know how it will affect us. It might have unpleasant side effects, and results aren’t guaranteed. Sometimes we just get fed up of relying on medication to live.
9. PARANOID OR IRRATIONAL THINKING
We can experience paranoid and irrational thoughts. We become paranoid that we have done something wrong at work, even if nobody has done or said anything to cause us to think that. We can become irrational and get over-emotional about things that we know don’t really matter. We often know that our thoughts are somewhat irrational but still struggle to stop them or control them.
10. SEEING OR HEARING THINGS THAT AREN’T THERE
Sometimes we see or hear things that aren’t there. We might know they’re not there ourselves, or someone else might help us to realise. It can be really scary because it can feel as though we are unable to trust ourselves.
11. SLOWING DOWN
Depression slows us down. It can slow down our thinking. It can slow down our speech. It can slow down our movements. Sometimes this is obvious to those around us. It can be frustrating because our brains and bodies feel like they don’t work well enough for us to do the things we need to do.
12. TALKING TOO MUCH
There are times when we talk too much or too quickly. We want to hide how low we’re feeling or don’t want others to know that we’re struggling, so we over-do it. Sometimes, we don’t want to admit to ourselves that we’re struggling. So we stay super-busy and appear exceptionally cheerful to try and hide what’s really going on.
13. TOO EXHAUSTED TO CARRY ON
We wake up exhausted. We go to work exhausted. We come home exhausted. We go to bed exhausted. We are always exhausted, however much we rest and however much we sleep. It can feel as though we are too exhausted to carry on. Too exhausted to change anything. We carry on anyway because it’s all we know to do. But we are exhausted.
HANG ON IN THERE
Depression can cause such a range of symptoms, but help is available. Whatever we are experiencing, we are never alone. Others have felt the same way and it can get better. Life won’t always be this way.