Tag Archives: Bipolar depression

Feeling Blue, Depressed or S.A.D.? Or Plain Confused?

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The blues
Yes,  everyone at some point or other ‘has the blues’.  (It beats me why it is called blue,  rather than grey.  Besides,  I quite like the Blues,  as in music.)  It is not uncommon to feel ‘blue’ when Winter is upon you.  The days are getting shorter,  you leave the house in the dark and return when darkness has set in.  During the day you hardly see the sun or you are not able to take advantage of daylight.

Time change
On top of that, the time change can seriously affect people who have a sensitive body clock. The inner sleep-wake cycle can become pretty disturbed. Honestly,  I don’t understand why we haven’t cancelled this whole stupid Daylight Savings Time already!  It influences my hormone balance,  sleep-wake cycle and what-not.  Why can’t they leave the time alone?!  It would save me,  and countless others,  a lot of hassle.  Let’s start a protest group…

Ok,  joking aside,  it does upset the system.  It takes time to get used to the coming of Winter,  especially in countries where daylight is cut short the most.  So,  feeling blue for a while is nothing to be worried about.

But when does it turn into being depressed or having S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder)?

Signs of depression
This list contains most of what you experience when you feel depressed and not just blue.  The symptoms must last longer than two weeks to become officially a ‘depression’.

  • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/ or helplessness
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early morning wakefulness or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease, even with treatment
  • Source

No,  you don’t need to suffer from all af them!  But if you can tick of a fair amount,  it might be worthwhile to explore it further for your own health benefit.

SAD (got tired of punctuation)
SAD is in actual fact a sub-category of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).  It has to occur at the same time every year and a minimum of two years in a row.  It also affects those having Bipolar Disorder (BD).  According to the DSM,  the psychiatrists bible,  SAD does not stand on its own.

I might disagree.  But then,  I am not a psychiatrist!

The reason why I say this, is that many people suffer from the blues or depression in some form or other during the darker times of the year.  While it might not disturb your life enough to warrant a doctor’s visit (in your thinking) and a psychiatrist might not diagnose you,  it doesn’t mean you have to silently suffer through it.

SADdies, Unite!!!

So,  what can you do about it?
What I have discovered in the past several months is that having a strong routine and solid habits can keep you going when a depression hits.  Of course it depends on the depth of the depression,  sometimes it just kicks out your legs from under you.  But all the same,  refusing to discuss ‘if I should make by bed;  do the dishes; hang up my coat;  put away the laundry’  it with myself by just doing it,  helps to keep an ordered and uncluttered house.  This way the chaos and disorder is contained in my head.  If my surroundings get cluttered and disordered,  my anxiety rises exponentially.  I don’t need no more of thát,  honestly!!

Next post I give you a list of practical things you can work on during the good times,  so you can fall back on it in the bad times.

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Depression is on my mind…

…and in my soul.  Wanting to write about depression for a week by now,  I became depressed several days ago.  Maybe that’ll help?  Nah,  guess not.

What does depression mean?
Depressed and depression are words we hear a lot nowadays.  It seems that everyone and his neighbour are depressed.

However,  the term is highly overrated.  Whenever that happens the true meaning of the word gets lost in the overuse of it.

Sure – we all have days when we feel down,  tired,  pessimistic,  inadequate and don’t want to do anything as a result.  But normally this will last a couple of hours or at most a couple of days.

The depression I am talking about here continues for several days or weeks or months (and for some of us years) when we are in a state of despondency,  dejection,  melancholy,  overriding sadness,  downheartedness,  mournfulness and anhedonia so severe as to require clinical intervention.  Anhedonia means that one loses pleasure in activities that are usually enjoyed.  I had to ask my p-doc when he first used the word :).

Note that the main issues here are the severity and the duration.  It doesn´t resolve itself,  as it would under normal circumstances,  so that is why medical treatment is needed.

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How depression feels (for me)
The tiredness hangs as a dead weight around my neck.  I don´t really know what to do with myself.  Sometimes I am simply existing,  because that is all I am capable of.  My heart feels so sad and down that it seems impossible to pick it up again.  I mourn my loss of hope which turns in despair which in turn pulls me ever more downwards.  Whenever I think I can’t go further down,  it turns out the bottom of the pit never ends.

In fact,  it can get so bad and so painful that it becomes impossible in my mind and soul to live any longer with this burden.  That is when I start thinking about suicide.  (This has happened to me,  but thankfully hasn’t in the last few years.)

It is vital to understand that we do NOT want to DIE,  but that we can NOT longer live with the PAIN!

It is critical for those around truly depressed people to understand this.  The intervention is geared (or should be turned) towards relieving the pain in the first place.  Relief of the pain in turn takes away the biggest reason for wanting to commit suicide.

The reason depression happens to me is because my brain is wired differently,  my brain chemistry works differently,  I respond to life events differently.  Bipolar (disorder) depression is a complex and serious illness.

What not to say
I hope that those who stand by a loved one or friend with depression start to understand that:

  • We cannot “Pull ourselves up on our boot straps”;
  • We can not “Cheer up!” or “Think positive!”
  • We can not “Just get over it!” or “Just snap out of it!” either;
  • To say that we “have nothing to be depressed about” doesn’t quite cut it;
  • We are not “feeling sorry for ourselves”,  so it’s no use to tell us to stop doing that;
  • To say to us that “lots of others are worse off”,  falls flat on its face.

Well,  I could go on,  but I am sure I’ve made my point…

What to do?
When someone has pneumonia,  we don’t say to that person: “Hey,  you’re not really sick,  get out of bed and go have some fun.  I am sure you’ll feel better!”  Nor do we say to a diabetic that (s)he is better of without her/his medication.  We accept that it is a chronic illness that needs to be treated and that it has consequences for someone’s lifestyle.  A diabetic can not decide not to be ill and expect by choice to be cured of the illness.  We all understand that it doesn’t work that way, right?

We might ask what we can do for the sick person.  Maybe we do some household chores,  shopping or something else practical.  Maybe we make tea,  sit by their bed,  show compassion and give comfort.

In short,  we accept the person with his/her sickness and take care of the person in a way that is beneficial to him/her.  We respect the boundaries of the illness the person has and do our best to  make the person more comfortable and at ease.

So why would it be any different with a mental illness?

To be continued

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DISCLAIMER:
Please,  note that I am not trying to be critical of anyone trying to lend a hand to a truly depressed friend or family member.  But I think it is important to understand what this friend or family member is going through in order to give or decide to get adequate help.  I am trying to show what depression means,  what it does and what can be done.  By no means is this post complete,  there is a whole lot more to be shared in future posts.

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