When Depression Haunts You

Man hugging his knee statue

Uncontrolled Depression

You may have experienced depression five or ten years ago but it doesn’t mean that you’re now in the clear. Depression can always reemerge like a deadly virus that no one expected to turn into a pandemic. That’s because unresolved depression can go unnoticed for years at a time, only to make itself noticeable unexpectedly. You may have been feeling depressed the whole time and not even know it; sometimes life has a way of keeping you distracted from your own feelings!

The last thing that you want to do is ignore your depression and bury it somewhere in the closet hoping to never having to deal with it; this is a recipe for disaster. Depression is not something that you sweep under the rug only to return to it centuries later. The symptoms of depression are too powerful to ignore and they will soon catch up with you; you will either seek treatment and recover or spiral down into a dark pit full of misery, alcohol or drugs.

So what is my recommendation to you? Don’t be afraid; don’t be shy; don’t be ashamed to seek help and talk about your feelings. What’s the worst that can happen? Nothing. You have everything to gain by opening up to a psychiatrist, therapist or psychologist and seeking treatment and better days. It’s time that you put your ego aside and seek the care that your mind, body and soul deserve!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Depressed As A Doormat

Grayscale photo of depressed woman sitting next to window holding doll

When People Stomp All Over You

There are many people who were raised to not disobey their parents and argue back, but at a very extreme level. As children, they feared their parent’s disapproval and did everything they could to appear perfect. As they slowly exited out of adolescence and entered the real world, they soon realized that the way they were brought up was not suitable with people outside their culture. They found themselves to be depressed by their interactions with others because they always cared about what others thought of them; they also never had the strength to stand up for themselves.

Your upbringing defines your adulthood to a great extent. It’s when you’re a child and adolescent that your personality is molded and shaped into the person who will carry you to the end of your days. If your personality is not shaped well from a young age, you will experience difficulties in relationships later on in your life. When people stomp all over you, it means that you do not have the courage nor strength to argue back and stand up for yourself.

You give others the power and even turn them into authority figures, similarly to what you did with your parents growing up. When others make fun of you or point out your flaws, you become ashamed of yourself, almost internalizing and believing everything they say, rather than standing up for yourself. You may even experience what some like to call a “shutdown;” an episode of low energy, drive or motivation to do anything besides being paralyzed on your couch or in your bed. You become a doormat and everyone keeps walking all over you.

Even though you may have a job, raise children and still be functional, your interactions with others limit your happiness. If people are nice and get along well with you, then you find yourself having no problems. It’s only when those who argue back and critique you that you become frozen in time and no longer know how to react. You want to fight back, experiencing an internal desire to stand up for yourself and tell them, “stop saying these things! They are not nice and I don’t believe in what you are saying!” But sadly, you never learned how to do that growing up.

But it’s never too late! Psychotherapy is the process of analyzing your life and learning how to change your thoughts and behaviors. Anyone can benefit from psychodynamic/psychoanalytic therapy; you don’t need a mental illness to be qualified for therapy. If you find yourself in this category of persons who are functional but struggling with depression and problematic behavioral patterns, then I highly recommend you start psychotherapy! You will not regret it.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Depressed Americans

Depressed Hispanic woman crying while laying on gray furniture

Coronavirus: An Era Of Depression

I have talked to so many mental health patients who are sitting at home in a depressed state of mind ever since the coronavirus pandemic started. The key word is at “home” because they are functional and not so depressed that they require a hospitalization, but this does not mean that they don’t experience some of the symptoms that come with depression. Even before the coronavirus, there were many Americans already depressed; now, that number has substantially increased.

Some of the symptoms of depression may include a decreased sleep, decreased interest in activities, decreased concentration, decreased appetite, guilt, loss of energy, slowing of body movements or even suicidal ideations. Many Americans experience at least a few of these symptoms while sitting at home with no agenda for the rest of the day. The recurring theme is that they lost their job and are not leaving the house; in other words, they lack activities to keep them preoccupied during the day.

Some people also become very anxious at home and anxiety and depression often go together. They will complain that there’s so much negative news or that people in the neighborhood are not wearing masks, “as if they don’t care that there’s a pandemic going on.” What’s important to understand if you are a reader who identifies with these thoughts is that we cannot force others to wear masks, nor should we expect them to; it’s a free world and people have the right to do what they want.

So why am I pointing out the obvious? Because clearly it’s making you anxious and more depressed that others aren’t following health officials’ recommendations. But why are you getting hurt in the process? You should not be anxious or depressed because of external factors; you need to learn how to put uncontrollable external factors aside and focus on bettering your life. Do your due diligence by wearing a mask and washing your hands but don’t expect others to do the same.

It’s not easy being home because of the coronavirus and not having a job. Some people work from home but still feel depressed because their previous routine of leaving the house and coming back in the evening has been taken away from them; they are not used to using their home space as a work environment after working away from home for over twenty years. As I have mentioned in many previous articles, depression is like a wave and many times you don’t see it coming; you just have to ride it out without falling down.

This coronavirus is a similar wave but much bigger and deadlier. It may be harder to hold on but it’s definitely doable. So don’t allow this wave of depression to knock you off your surfboard. Many people are experiencing the negative emotions that you are; you are never alone in this. So maintain a positive mindset, keep yourself preoccupied during the day by finding work, taking long walks outside, reading, exercising and socializing with others. Don’t allow anxiety and depression to get to you and certainly don’t allow them to bring your down!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Depressed On Drugs

Person sitting on train track with cloud of smoke in the dark

Using Drugs To Cope With Depression

Not everyone will admit that they use drugs to cope with depression, but it’s quite common. Whether it’s your bottle of liquor, line of cocaine or blunt of marijuana, substance use comes in quite handy in times of depression. But there’s a catch; they actually make your depression worse in the long run because they don’t fix the problem to begin with. Substances only mask the problem, allowing you to believe that you can now live your life without experiencing the symptoms of depression.

Another danger with using substances to cope with depression is the increased risk of impulsive acts. Substances give you more power, freedom and ability to perform acts which you otherwise would not have if you were sober. In relation to depression, the most severe act is a suicide attempt. Because substances impair your judgment as well, you can end up doing something very dangerous towards yourself or others.

Many patients will deny having problems with substances and you can tell so by observing how they become defensive about the topic when you inquire more about their alleged use of a substance. If you pay attention to their body language as well as to the tone of their voice, you will realize that they experience your questions as intrusive, judgmental and even accusatory.

But you’re not doing any of that (hopefully)! What you’re in fact doing is called motivational interviewing; a technique utilized with substance abuse patients that attempts to understand where they are coming from and whether they are ready to make a change, the change being to eventually quit the substance. But patients who are depressed may have a more difficult time with motivational interviewing because many will hide their substance abuse in the first place.

Depressed patients typically have a low self-esteem during their depressive episodes, so the last thing that they want to do is to reveal their problems with substances; some might, but many won’t. Depression and substance abuse is a deadly combination because the substances give more power to the user to commit suicide. In addition, substances and psychiatric medications are never a good mix, sometimes even inducing serotonin syndrome if a combination of cocaine and SSRIs are used.

If you encounter a depressed person and you suspect substance abuse, then you’re likely right. But don’t pressure them to reveal their use; this will almost always backfire. Inquire and show your concern, but allow them to slowly reveal it to you when they are ready. Rather, you want to focus more on their depression because often times, it’s their depression that made them start abusing substances in the first place.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Paralyzed By Depression

Depressed man sitting on wooden floor with head down on lap

Day Consumed By Depression

Anyone who has ever experienced depression knows that it’s sometimes brought upon you by an unexpected wave that you never saw coming. It’s not like you wake up one day and you’re depressed; that’s not what we’re talking about. You don’t see the depression coming but you can definitely sense the bits and pieces of it trickling in. In other others, you’re not going to point at a calendar and say, “I’ll probably feel depressed July 4th.” It just happens.

But when the feeling hits you on that particular day, you’ll definitely know that you’re experiencing it. It feels like the inside of you is melting; you feel the pain spreading through your arms and legs and it’s especially heavy in the center of your chest. It’s as if your heart is pumping depressed blood and you’re slowing becoming paralyzed in mind and body; you can feel your soul kicking like the legs of a fetus in the uterus of a pregnant woman.

When the episode has begun, it’s very hard to just snap out of it and turn your day around. This takes a lot of strength and past experience and who wants to be that guy who has a lot of experience snapping out of depression? It’s not something that you necessarily want in your arsenal. It’s difficult to snap out of depression during that day because like I previously said, you feel paralyzed and out of options, as if riding the wave is the easiest thing to do.

If something exciting happens during the day, it makes snapping out of the depression much easier, but let’s be honest, how many of us have random exciting things that we can rely on to snap us out of these episodes? On second thought, even wealthy people who have tons of things to be excited about often can’t snap out of their depressive fits; the wave is just too powerful.

So what you’ll end up doing is trying to hold on for dear life and avoid drowning. If you can get to the end of the day near your bedtime, you’ll know that you have made it. I want to make clear that the depression that I am referring to is not the psychiatric diagnosis of “major depressive disorder.” I am referring to a general feeling of sadness that you can refer to as feeling “depressed,” but it’s not the same thing as major depression, which involves symptoms such as decreased sleep, interest, appetite, concentration, guilt and suicidal ideations for at least two weeks in a row.

We all experience sadness, but it’s one thing to be sad for one hour of the day and another to have your entire day consumed by depression. The latter involves your day psychologically going to waste. You may have accomplished chores and tasks and even have done fun things, but nothing was truly enjoyable because depression was eating you alive from the inside out. Sometimes talking to someone may help alleviate your depression, but keep in mind that it’s quite difficult to surf your way off the wave when you feel like it.

Oftentimes, when the wave arrives, it’s fair to say that you’ll be riding it all day. Your goal is to alleviate the falls and try to maintain as smooth of a ride as possible. If you can coast throughout the day without falling, consider yourself having experienced a minor depressive fit. When you wake up the next day, make sure that you maintain positive thoughts from the moment that you open your eyes, so that you don’t give depression and its associated wave a second run for its money.

You are not in this alone. Always feel free to engage with The DSM Ready Community for help and support!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

I Am The Master Of My Depression

Depressed white woman wearing bunny ears outfit with hands covering face

Positive Affirmation: Controlling Depression

“I am the master of my depression because I don’t deny its existence when its wave comes upon me. Rather, I experience its associated symptoms and do not attempt to fight back, and realize that I am truly in control of it by reminding myself that I am stronger. Depression may strike at any moment, but it is I who still hold the keys to my mind and it is I who am the master of this ship!”

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

I Am Free Of Depression

Grayscale photo of depressed woman sitting on bench against wall

Positive Affirmation: Depression-Free

“I am free of depression because depression does not have control over my sleep, emotions, appetite, energy, movements, interest in activities, concentration and drive to do whatever I want in life!”

Sexually Abused By Depression

Close-up photo of white blonde woman with hands tied with rope

Depressed By Sexual Abuse

Many women who are sexually abused remain slaves to their experience even decades later. What once was thought to be an experience of two lifetimes ago actually still feels very real to them in the present moment; their unconscious mind sprinkles the memory onto their conscious mind at random and unpredictable times. For most of their lives, they have buried their experience, hoping to never have to revisit it.

But sometimes they have no choice because their mind will force them to revisit it. Whenever they suppress the experience, they tend to experience mental turmoil such as anger, hatred, irritability and even depression. Some suffer from PTSD symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance in certain situations and avoidance of certain public places.

Because of repressing their experience, there are some women who don’t recall their sexual abuse; they have buried their trauma within the depths of their mind. But when the trauma resurfaces, sometimes even decades later, the depressive episode that follows can be very bad, sometimes even presenting with psychotic features that are irrelevant to their past trauma.

The intellectually disabled are a vulnerable population when it comes to sexual abuse. Because of their developmental illness, caretakers, stepfathers or close family members are often the perpetrators at play. It becomes even more difficult for an intellectually-disabled victim to process and understand their sexual trauma due to the nature of their illness; the experience may be like a glitch in their mind that constantly resurfaces at random times.

The Me Too movement has shed light on all the young women or women of age who have been abused by men. Many times, these women were lured by the money and opportunities that would become available after performance of sexual acts, but this does not mean that the experiences were consensual. It’s one thing to be lured by money and materialism and consent to sex and another when a man forces himself upon you. Often times, these women remain victims for life, having never truly recovered their feminism and self-identity following the sexual trauma.

It’s important to help these women come out of the shadows and give them a platform from where they can express their feelings, frustrations and pain. This platform is called The DSM Ready Community and is open to all people who want to share their experiences with sexual trauma, mental illness or life struggles in general. We welcome all races, cultures and political affiliations; we do not judge.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Drugs, Depression And Abortion

Pink round pills in plastic wrapping

Raped By Drugs

Imagine being a female drug addict and living in a shelter for the last couple of years. You wake up every day to go to work which involves consuming cocaine and alcohol. You wander the streets with no end in sight, enjoying the rollercoaster high provided by the drugs. Sometimes you wonder if you need anything more in this world besides drugs and a bed to sleep at night. Until the drugs invite an unexpected guest; someone who decides to violate your body and rape you while you’re passed out from the narcotics.

This is the life of many women who abuse drugs and suffer from a mental illness; they expose themselves to dangerous situations. Many times, the mental illness is due to the drugs themselves, also known as Substance-Induced Mood/Psychotic Disorder. When the drugs are metabolized by the body, usually during a hospitalization, the mental illness subsides. But this is when reality also kicks in, sometimes making the patient feel worse about their current situation.

But can you imagine ending up in the hospital and finding yourself to be greater than 15 weeks pregnant and asking for an abortion, all while you have been abusing drugs? What did that child do wrong to deserve this fate? Does this child not deserve a chance to live? Even though the patient feels violated and believes that this unknown man “seeded” her with his sperm, why should an unborn child suffer the consequence of termination and never see the light of day?

No one is arguing that a patient who is raped does not feel violated and perhaps even suffering from PTSD or depression, but did the patient not put themselves at risk by engaging in risky behavior such as using drugs with male strangers? What do you expect will happen when you are a young female and abusing drugs with grown men in sketchy urban areas? Do you think the men will just stand there and protect you while you nod out?

This goes to show you how dangerous drugs and mental illness are when they go hand in hand. Drugs not only impair your judgement, but they also place you in bad situations, exposing you to dangerous individuals who put your life at risk. You then find yourself waking up with your clothes off and some marks around your vaginal area; perhaps even some itching.

The next thing you know is that you are pregnant, a drug addict living in a shelter and depressed. You end up in a psychiatric unit to get stabilized, but your main focus is to have an abortion. This is the reality of many psychiatric patients all around the world. Don’t use drugs!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Depressed Out Of Your Mind

Depressed woman wearing hoodie with head down sitting against blue wall

Reeking Of Depression

Imagine feeling so depressed that you cannot even express any other emotion; your face looks blank and dysphoric. Your voice becomes monotone and slow as if stolen by an evil spirit. You appear disheveled as if you haven’t showered in over a week and perhaps you also carry a little body odor. Your thoughts are jumbled and you can’t think clearly because you are consumed by depression; the dominant thought in your mind tends to revolve around a way of how to commit suicide.

Imagine no way out of your misery; depression has chained you into a corner of your home and you can barely extend yourself to the bathroom to take care of yourself. Occasionally, depression will release you of its leash and allow you into the kitchen like a starving dog that is salivating for a T-bone. But you’re not salivating; in fact, you’re spilling tears on the way to the kitchen.

When you arrive to open the fridge you notice that there’s barely any food; you haven’t done groceries in over two weeks. There’s some milk, a few pieces of bread and some salami. You grab hold of the honey-flavored peanuts and munch down as the tears fall down your cheeks; you cannot believe that life has dragged you this low.

After ten minutes of swallowing down your dinner, you head back to your corner because depression has called your name once again. As you slowly make your way back, you see depression standing in the corner: it is about seven feet tall, has an evil smirk on its face and is holding a Rottweiler-sized leash that is ready for your neck. You innocently sit down as it shoves you into the corner and lets loose a loud evil laugh, “Mwahahaha. You’re mine forever!”

As you spend your days in the corner rotting away, you hear your cell phone in the other room ringing continuously; family and friends must be leaving voicemails left and right. You find an occasion in the afternoon to check your messages while depression is fast asleep: you notice frantic and worrying texts and voicemails from loved ones, but you don’t bother returning any calls. For a split second, the thought of drinking alcohol excites you and so you go grab the leftover bottle of liquor from over two months ago.

As you walk back into the living room with the bottle in your hand, you immediately notice depression standing on the other side with its hands on its waste. It then informs you, “I approve. I can use some too. Let’s get to work.” As you feel relieved that depression has approved your drinking, you start downing the bottle because it helps to take away the pain; at least in the moment.

Until one of three things happen: you die of alcohol poisoning in the corner by yourself, you end up in the hospital or you continue living through your misery with no end in sight. This is the life of many depressed patients.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)