Depression is a severe mental disorder and usually is not taken very seriously. For the majority, depression is almost the same thing as being sad. However, a person with depression knows the difference.
Living with depression is one of the most difficult things in life, as in severe depression, self-harm and suicide idealization appear.
Apart from self-harm and suicide, depression takes away the taste from the life. The things once done with great joy turns into regular things while regular things turn into pain.
The mind of a person with depression is always occupied with negative thoughts which end up degrading self-confidence and creating a different personality. A person with depression no longer remembers how he/she used to be before depression. He or she thinks this is his/her real identity and embraces it.
When I got my MMPI test this year, which I take once in every year to observe my depression, my psychiatrist reported that I might have learnt how to live with depression. Then I asked myself, what does it mean? What does a person do to learn how to live with depression?
Living with depression implies a person is not so much affected by the symptoms of depression and/or learnt how to get along with them. Which requires the person to be unaware of his/her depression for a long time. Because depression treatment process wants to eliminate the symptoms of depression while living with depression means learning how to reduce the effect of those symptoms.
So, the real question might be “how to reduce the effect of symptoms of depression” or “how to get used to the symptoms of depression”.
For my case, I did not reduce the effect of any symptom. I just accepted myself as a low-mood, unhappy, unmotivated person until I realized I was in depression. Then I started my depression treatment.
Living with depression while having a treatment is much different than living with untreated depression. It means you are aware of your situation and you decided to seek help. Your symptoms are reducing but you have the side-effects of antidepressants.
To be able to demonstrate the difference between living with depression with and without treatment, I will use the symptoms of depression and how I cope with them.
1. “I can’t enjoy anything.”
When I didn’t know that I had depression, I used to think that I was different than others, that I had a different taste in life. I was an outsider. That was because I didn’t enjoy anything that normal people enjoyed. But as I didn’t know about my depression, I thought that people are dull and I can’t be bothered to be friends with them. This led to living life with no friends and as I was unable to enjoy anything, I was constantly trying to find a hobby. I’ve tried oil painting, running, camping, cycling… But my interest would be lost in a few days.
2. “I don’t feel like doing anything.”
When nothing gives you pleasure or satisfaction, why would you do it at all? When I used to live with depression without knowing that I had it, I used to blame myself for being lazy. I used to hate myself for it. Because I remember the times that I had dreams. With depression, a person’s dreams also vanish. When you don’t have any dreams, goals or plans, you end up sleeping all day. A person living with depression can’t find the necessary motivation to complete a task. That’s why they face serious trouble in every aspect of life. Whether it’s work related or school, untreated depression has the power to destroy your life. In the end, you are all alone with your self-blame and guilt.
3. Unrest/Anxiety/Stress Without A Reason
As a person with depression can’t get motivated to do stuff, it will create anxiety and stress related to unfinished tasks. I remember trying to prepare for an exam, the last day before. In the end, I failed every class but knowing that I needed to something and not being able to do it, causes a great level of stress.
4. Insomnia or Narcolepsy
A person with depression might be suffering from insomnia or narcolepsy. Imagine that you need to wake up at 7 am but you can’t sleep until 5 am. This effects school, work, family and more. As a result of insomnia, a person might have to get through the day feeling sleepy. And this lasts for long periods of time. This is in fact how I became an alcoholic a few years ago. I used to work as a bartender at a restaurant and I’d come home around 1 am. Even though I had felt so tired, I could never be able to sleep because of anxiety and stress. That’s why I started to drink until I sleep.
Other effects of depression in a person’s daily life might include weight loss or gain, feeling tired without a reason, amnesia, being unable to focus on anything, feeling invaluable and suicidal ideation. These are all things that a person with depression suffers. If the person does not receive proper depression treatment, the symptoms might increase in time and the result might be harmful.