Depression vs. Sadness

The paragraph right below this was originally written in the notes of a video that I already recorded and plan to post tomorrow (Wednesday 1/20/16). I stopped myself short because the video I’m posting tomorrow is about how I’m doing better now. Plus, it’s extremely difficult for me to verbalize rather than write about my thoughts on depression. The paragraph below would have been right after the part in the video where I say, “Not only has it been scientifically proven that depression is a real medical issue and isn’t the same as just being sad… But I also can personally feel the difference between being sad and experiencing a depressive episode.”

I think it’s important to talk about depression and acknowledge that it’s real. It should be treated in whichever way works for you. It can be different for everyone.

Some may just need to exercise enough and stay aware of their negative thoughts. Others might need therapy. And some may also need medication on top of these things.

I don’t think medication alone is ever the answer but I do think medication can be helpful for some people. At least for a period of time if needed.

Now onto the real point of this blog. The difference between sadness and depression. What I’m about to write below is solely based on my personal experience and beliefs.

SADNESS

Sadness, in my experience, is the result of an acute situation such as a breakup, losing your job and so on. The feelings you face will be painful and difficult to get through. But you know that you will get through it at some point.

Sadness has many levels ranging from just being kind of bummed to being devastated.

If you reach a devastated level of sadness it could be difficult to move through it. It might be much harder than usual for friends to comfort and cheer you up. But they can and they will. And you KNOW this.

Even if there are times you’re not sure how long it will be till you feel okay again, you STILL know that the time will come. Because you’re capable of digesting the situation through a rational thought process.

Sometimes emotions can take a while to wade through but rational thought will find it’s way again. Your brain chemistry supports this process.

You know you’ll be okay.

You know you still have hope.

I think that’s the main difference. It could possibly be the ONLY difference. I haven’t given this enough thought or research yet to confidently write that here.

DEPRESSION

Depression causes the loss of hope.

Rational thought can’t find it’s way back to you.

Irrational thoughts have taken over and they love to convince you that there is no such thing as hope. In your mind this is how you will feel forever. Your mind is where your reality is defined.

Saying “this is how I will feel forever” sounds ridiculous to a rational person. But a depressed person is not being rational.

I’ve always had depression to an extent but it was manageable. It didn’t really interfere with my life or well being. I was capable of pulling myself out of it with effort of various sorts (which I’ll go into in another post).

You can have depression without being doomed to negativity. It can be dormant and/or you can do things to keep it maintained just like any other physical issue.

I have bad eye sight so I wear glasses. Or contacts. Or I could get Lasik (scary).

If you’re overweight you can exercise, eat better, and so on.

In certain cases there is scientific proof that lack of exercise and a poor diet might not be the only problems. I’m not going to write all about that right now but you can look into it by clicking HERE.

This compares better to depression than poor eye sight. Most of us realize you probably can’t exercise your way out of poor eye sight. But many people feel that maybe you can exercise your way out of being overweight.

To clarify:

  • Exercise & diet for bad eye sight: Will not work.
  • Exercise & diet for weight loss: Might work. But you may need more.
  • Exercise & diet for depression: Might work. But you may need more.

Is my point clear? Either way, I’m moving on!

Now onto my personal experience.

I’ve been sad before. Many times. During those times I was capable of realizing tomorrow will be better.

But some of those times triggered my depression and it would turn into something else.

Side note: You don’t NEED a trigger to experience depression. Sometimes it just IS.

I’m the type that the depression would only challenge me by certain triggers. I’m not a Psychologist. I’m just expressing how it seems to have affected me most of my life.

Many of you know my mom passed away a little over a year ago. This event triggered my depression which I expected. But I didn’t know it would trigger a “severe depression”. I didn’t even know that was a thing. I thought there was depression and sadness. I never thought of the possibility of this evolved level of “severe depression”.

Soon after losing my mom I broke up with someone I loved. I thought of this person as the strongest part of my “support system”.

That’s a popular question therapists like to ask you. “Who is your support system right now?”

Because it’s true. You need people. Especially people you can trust and feel comfortable around.

I’m a freelancer that mostly works from home. Alone.

Isolation is not healthy for anyone. Depressed or not.

While dealing with depression the last thing I felt like doing was going out and being social. But being around people is exactly what you need to pull out of the depression. It’s kind of a catch 22.

All these elements put together pushed me over an edge. The edge of severe depression.

It was bad, and then it got worse. And worse. And then even more worse.

Anytime you saw a video post or current Instagram of me within this past year it was a big effort. I thought if I could be myself again then I could feel okay again. Being myself consists of doing the DeniseVlogs stuff. I fought for those efforts. Through obsessive negative thoughts. My thoughts were beyond my control at that point but I thought maybe my actions could change that.

I think it worked to some extent.

I was still working. I was getting what I needed to get done to pay my bills and remain a functional person. I didn’t want to make things worse. But that’s ALL I was doing.

I rarely went out and spent time with people and I barely posted videos because I didn’t want to be seen.

Depression can make you feel ugly and worthless. No amount of makeup is capable of making a depressed person feel pretty.

Depression isn’t fun or interesting. Just the idea of keeping up a conversation with someone at a “party” was exhausting. Some days just the idea of getting out of bed was exhausting…

I knew I wasn’t a fun person to be around. Depression is disinterested. Boring and bored.

If I wasn’t managing the sad side of depression then I was pushing through the empty side.

My experience with depression would go back and forth between an uncontrollable sadness or a deep emptiness.

The kind of sadness you hide around people while you look forward to when you can finally go home and cry for a while. But then a while turns into hours. And then hours turn into days.

If I wasn’t on that side of depression then I was going through the emptiness. A state of boredom so significant that there felt like no reason to exist.

Who cares if I make money doing this? Who cares if I’m invited out somewhere? It means nothing. None of this means anything and it’s all boring.

I’m sure this sounds insane to some of you. But I’m also sure that some of you know exactly what I’m talking about.

You don’t think the thoughts are irrational while it’s happening. It’s your truth.

I feel like I’m rambling. I’ll try to wrap this up with an analogy of what depression is for anyone that has never experienced it.

Depression is like tripping and falling into a hole that has no bottom. You will continue falling down this dark, cold and lonely hole for the rest of your life.

Everyone that loves you tells you that there IS a bottom. And when that bottom comes you can get up again and keep on walking with the rest of us.

They don’t understand. There is NO BOTTOM. You know you’ve tripped before. They know you’ve tripped before. But not down this hole. THIS is the hole with no bottom.

*The following continuation of this analogy only applies to SOME depressive experiences. The severe kind.*

You’re stuck in this endless free fall and you feel like you have no choice but to keep on falling. But you always have a choice.

You can keep falling down this hole of never ending darkness. Getting darker and colder as you go. The voices of your loved ones fading away.

Literally and figuratively. 

Figuratively because the further you fall the less you can hear from up there.

Literally because if you’re falling for too long you are going to lose some people at the top of that hole. People you never imagined would go. 

Some might say “That’s how you know who your real friends are.” I disagree. I think severe depression is capable of murdering both love and friendship.

If you lose someone in the first month of a depressive episode then yes; that person was a shitty friend.

But even the REALLY good ones may start to fade after a while. It’s hard to blame anyone. No one wants to be around such tormenting thoughts and feelings. Depressed people don’t want to be depressed. We wish we could leave us, too.

And that brings me back to the “choice”.

You could continue falling down this hole forever or you could stop falling NOW. Simple, right?

It’s not an easy choice because to stop falling you have to do something difficult and most likely painful.

But could you bring yourself to do it? How long would it take? How long would you have to be in pain before it actually accomplished ending the free fall?

And then almost always, at least for me, your free fall gets halted by at least one of two things.

You fall right into a thick layer of cobwebs. Cobwebs filled with guilt and tears shed for everyone you would hurt if you decided to end your free fall.

OR you could hit a thick branch of fear. You’re able to sit on it and keep yourself from continuing to fall. You don’t like this branch.

You’re still deep down in this hole. It’s cold and lonely. What good is it to sit on this branch of fear? Why can’t you just let go of this branch? You may even come to hate this branch. Because you realize this branch is keeping you stuck and is stealing your ability to make a choice.

Later on you know this stupid branch saved you. 

But still, the cobwebs are a better way to come to a halt.

I hope I didn’t lose you. These are not exaggerations. Just analogies to help people understand on some imaginary level.

I’m doing better now. Not completely better but nowhere near where I was even just two months ago.

I plan to write a post of how I believe you CAN climb out of the never ending hole. About how I realized this, how I started the climb and how I’m continuing to climb my way out more and more each day.

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4 thoughts on “Depression vs. Sadness

  1. That was great read for me, and your description of depression was spot on. I’ve been in therapy for 10 Years for depression,take meds, it helps a bit, but it’s a struggle. Keep up the great posts. You’re an outstanding writer.

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  2. I like what you had to say about what you’ve been through. I’ve been battling social anxiety disorder for about 13 years or so now and while I feel like I’ve made some progress with my condition,I know I have a long way to go before I’m pleased with who I am and where I am in life. Like you,I lost a parent last year, my dad passed away a year ago this week at a very young age. It was something that broke my heart and still does. A month later,my boss announced he was leaving our office for a promotion at headquarters. That,too,was painful because I loved my boss a lot,he was nice enough (and dare I say brave enough) to take a chance on a then 30-year-old grocery clerk who was past his prime in that industry and hired me. Those two events coupled so close together really got me down. But I do have a wonderful support system in place and people in my life who I enjoy being around,even when times aren’t the best. There are those times where I just want to be alone for a while,sometimes that’s okay,but when you’re as socially deprived as me,that gets old after a while and you need people again. Anyways, I hope you’re doing well and are in a better spot than you were months prior. I enjoy your videos and now your writing as well. You have a follower in me and I can’t wait to read and view what’s next!

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  3. i understand , i was in depression some years before but when i got engaged in work my depression at some extent disappeared but not totally….i have more thing to share but it will take long time, for now i suggest engage yourself in some work you like and try to forget old and bad memories.

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  4. Thanks for sharing your experiences & analogies! It is tough to talk about it and we all have the power to make it back to the top somehow, it’s tough, but only we can do it in order to help ourselves. I’m glad you are doing better and continue to do so, traveling will certainly help. I recommend country hopping in Europe as they are close to each other much like going from state to state. Enjoy the food, culture and scenery. I know moving to California will definitely help me. God bless and hope to bump into you in the future. 🙂

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