I am convinced that stoicism is never the answer to anything, being nothing more than a cruel, callous encouragement to people to devour each other, a powerful ally of sadists and tyrants keen to get people to endure things which should be firmly refused as unendurable. Courage, indeed!
--Les Murray, Killing the Black Dog
Symptoms of major depression (1-9 are from DSM-IV):
- Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including food and sex
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
- Feelings of excessive guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- Decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down"
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Trouble sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite changes or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Restlessness, irritability, anger
- Persistent physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain, which do not respond to routine treatment
- Eating a lot.
- Worthlessness. Feeling different from everybody else, like you are weird, incompetent, and even subhuman.
- Forgetting what it is like to feel "normal".
- Rage, breaking things.
- Hard to get out of bed.
- Feeling extremely "down". Pain seems bottomless.
- Putting up a front to meet others' expectations of who you should be.
- Affects all aspects of your life: relationships, school, and work.
- Thoughts are out of control. "Wheels are spinning."
- Offers to help (such as, "I think you should see a therapist") are taken as criticism.
- Loved ones are "walking on eggshells" for fear of triggering a feat of rage or hurting your feelings.
- Impulsive and risky behavior, thrill-seeking.
- A sense that it's something that can be brushed away, because you can't see it. A sense that there is a single cause, and if I could just find what it is, this weight would go away.
- Difficulty of accepting that it's something more, that it won't go away easily, and that you have no control over it, and that it is a real disease.
- Normalizing depression: believing that it is the normal way to feel, and that the feelings are the natural response to life's stressors. "It's just how life is... It seems like it's never going to end, things aren't going to get better." However, thinking about depression as an illness is powerful because it gives hope that things could be changed.
- "I feel uncomfortable talking about it because it means you are weak."
- "Nobody picked up on the signs I exhibited. I wish somebody did, because it would show that somebody cared about me."
- Problems and emotions seem unmanageable.
- The positive that came out of it was: gaining new coping skills, having pride in overcoming the biggest adversity in the human experience, knowing your abilities and your limits, recognizing signs of an upcoming episode to prevent a relapse.
William Styron, writer and author of Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Depression
"[Depression is] despair beyond despair... In depression this faith in deliverance, in ultimate restoration, is absent. The pain is unrelenting, and what makes the condition intolerable is the foreknowledge that no remedy will come- not in a day, an hour, a month, or a minute... In virtually any other serious sickness, a patient who felt similar devastation would by lying flat in bed, possibly sedated and hooked up to the tubes and wires of life-support systems, but at the very least in a posture of repose and in an isolated setting. His invalidism would be necessary, unquestioned and honorably attained. However, the sufferer from depression has no such option."
Andrew Solomon, writer and author of Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression
"The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and it was vitality that seemed to seep out of me. I remember particularly that I would come home, and I would listen to the messages on my answering machine, and instead of being pleased to hear from my friends, I would feel tired, and think, that's an awful lot of people to have to call back."
Drew Carey, Comedian, host of "Who's Line Is It Anyway?" and "The Price Is Right"
"I was depressed for a long time... I remember going to a frat party, and everybody was having a good time, and laughing and meeting girls. And I was just 'why are they having a good time, what do they got to be happy about?' I just couldn't understand why I was so miserable. Back then I was so full of a lot of self-hate... I [thought I] wasn't as good as they were, I wasn't as worthy as they are. And all that stuff makes you just hate yourself and judge yourself."
Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America"I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me."