My Old Frenemy

Depression is a real thing.  As much as I’d like to pretend it is not real it is really, truly, real.  Worse than that it is something I have to personally deal with.  Most of the time I try to convince myself that this is “normal.” I try to pretend that it is just the way things are and that there is not something seriously wrong going on inside my head.  When depression lasts long enough it kinda does become an odd form of normal since it becomes what I’m used to.  So when someone asks me how I am I may say ok or something like that but the reality is that it is not ok.  It is not really ok because low has become a new normal.  I get so used to being low that I don’t realize that I’m down.

cave2It is sort of like someone being in a cave for a long time.  That person may at first realize that they are in the dark but after a while they get used to the darkness and it become their “normal.”  The idea of things being brighter to that person is a foreign concept.  If you were to ask that person how things looked at first they’d say that it was dark but after a while, once the darkness has become familiar, they may say something like things looked ok and not fully realize that they are really surrounded by darkness.  While being in darkness is not necessarily a bad experience in itself, it limits one someone can do.  It makes it harder to move.  It makes it harder to do things that should seem easy to do.  Simple things can become very, very difficult to carry out.  It also makes it harder to notice when something is wrong. The longer someone is in that darkness the harder it become to do things.  The longer someone is in that darkness the harder it is to notice the darkness.  The longer someone is in that darkness the less they believe that light is something that really exists.

cave3That is exactly what life with depression is.  It is not laziness or denial.  Depression is wanting to do more but not being able to and not knowing why.  Depression is not denying how things really are but not being able to realize or even conceptualize that things are or even can be different.  More often than not depression is not something someone an will themselves out of or even change.  Also it is very, very, very, very important to know that while therapy and medicine can and do help THEY ARE NOT A CURE.  There is not “cure” for depression just like there is no cure for the darkness inside a cave.  There are things than can help someone dealing with depression, just like there are things that can help someone see in a dark cave.  A lantern does not cure the darkness in a cave but it makes things temporarily less dark.

One very important thing that most people don’t seem to realize but it is perhaps the most important thing to know when dealing with someone who is depressed is knowing that people who are depressed do not choose to be depressed nor can they choose not to be depressed.  It is not that they don’t want to get better but it is that their minds can not even truly understand the concept of “better.”  If someone spends enough time in a dark cave, the very idea of light becomes as alien as a smart phone is  to a Neanderthal.cave1

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