I know we live in a “politically correct” world and sometimes that can be debilitating when we’re looking for ways to say things but apparently no “PC” way of saying them exists. I get that. With that said, however, I have a personal pet peeve of people saying “depressed” when they really just mean “sad” or “super bummed” or “upset about some trivial thing” (think sports team losing).
Depression, to me, is a medical condition that I have struggled with for 20ish years now. Depression is an all-encompassing cloud over my world that I cannot escape for some undetermined amount of time, sometimes weeks, sometimes months. Depression has caused me to lose one job, fail at least one college course, gain weight, lose weight, miss important events, strain almost every relationship I’ve had, and overall decreased my quality of life up until a few years ago (thank you health insurance, good psychiatrist, and actually giving a damn about my mental health!). Depression is not caused by trivial things and often does not just come and go on a whim. Depression can be triggered by life events – death, big changes, trauma – or it can show up and stick around for absolutely no environmentally solicited reason. Depression is not something one simply “gets over.” Depression can show up at any time and have no visible expiration date in site. Depression affects each person differently, for me it’s wanting nothing to do with anyone or anything because I feel empty – then realizing that there’s no logical reason for this so I feel even worse because I’m just being “selfish.” Depression is me not wanting to leave my bed, ever, for the foreseeable future.
Once I became regularly medicated a few years ago I could see my depression from a sort of “outside of body” experience. My medications made me higher functioning but they didn’t erase the feeling entirely. I could see what was happening in how I was acting and I was able to pinpoint WHY I felt a cloud over me for no reason, but that didn’t mean I could just magically stop feeling that way. Once I was able to identify the depression I was able to acknowledge it and either allow myself to embrace it (I called this “being a blob”) or try to say “eff that jazz, I’m just going to force myself to do XYZ anyway.” Since I’ve settled into a successful “cocktail” of medications in the last year, this depression has been at bay – it’s been so, so lovely.
PSA on Drinking and Depression
Side note on drinking and depression because I feel a lot of people ignore this (myself included). . . When you’ve got less than stellar mental health it’s ill-advised to be drinking alcohol, when you’re on medications to stabilize your mental health it’s even more ill-advised. I experienced first-hand the effects of too much drinking on my mental health sometime over a year ago when it actually sent me into a depressive state, negating all the hard work I had done getting to a happy norm. I realize now that I had allowed a temporary sadness to actually cause a depression. I strongly advise against that!
I actually love the Sadness character from Inside Out because it’s true, sadness is in fact an emotion we need to experience sometimes. Sadness is a reactionary emotion. Sadness can be gotten over with distractions, time, counseling, hugs, whatever works for you. Sadness is that pain you feel in your chest (heart) when you know something is just not right and it’s made even worse when there’s nothing you can do about it. Sadness is something that, even though it really truly sucks, you know there’s an end in sight – somewhere. Sadness is crying it out, cursing whatever upset you, taking a few days of solitude, calling up your friend, going into nature, meditating, writing, reflecting, or just escaping in whatever non-destructive way you prefer until you can come back, having processed it and are ready to start moving on.
I hope this helps clarify why I’m “PC” on the depressed vs sad statements. I do not want to be that person saying “Oh really, Your Sports Team losing made you “not want to leave your bed for three weeks because you felt completely worthless” depressed? Or did their losing just make you “sad”?” Though I did that when people thought it was ok to call things “gay” in a derogatory way “Oh really, that shirt likes other shirts of the same sex?” if someone made the mistake of calling a shirt “gay” around me.
Let’s just try to be more aware, shall we? And perhaps share our own stories so these concepts are more human than simple words.