I was diagnosed with Severe Major Depressive Disorder when I was 19. At that time, I was in college and was doing really well, until one day, I just couldn't concentrate. I knew the lecturer was talking, since i hear sounds and her mouth was moving. But I could not listen or understand what she was saying. Things weren't going very well at home or socially. Soon, I stopped going to college because I couldn't take care of myself even for simple, basic things, like personal hygiene or eating.
It was at this point in time that close family friends recommended my parents to bring me to a psychiatrist. During the consultation, the psychiatrist asked me a lot of questions, especially about my past. It wasn't really a smooth sailing past. At the end of the session, she diagnosed me as having Severe Major Depression, with childhood onset. This meant that I had depression since I was a child. However, it became full blown at 19.
So, since I was 19, I have been taking lots of medication to help me cope with my condition.
Some people don't understand what depression is. They tell you to be positive and you will get well. They tell you not to 'indulge' in your sad feelings. When people say things like this, they do not realize how much it frustrates and hurts people who have depression. It is not something that we choose to have, or "indulge" in. (I get really mad when people say "indulge", because if it is so indulging, I would very much like to give it to them, because I don't want 'this' kind of 'indulgence"...no depressed person wants this 'indulgence' and it is not an indulgence at all to have depression.)
“People who don’t know [what depression is], who say it’s self-indulgence, sound callous, but it’s not callousness born of indifference; I think it’s callousness born of ignorance. That kind of ignorance we’ve got to get rid of, and little by little I suppose, we will. You say to them, ‘It’s a pity you don’t know. I’m sure that if you knew, I’m sure that if you knew, not only wouldn’t you say that, you’d try to help in one way or another.”- Mike Wallace, On the Edge of Darkness
How it feels like for me is that my depressive condition is sometimes like my shadow. I try to shake it off my back but it wont go away. So I try to learn to live with it. I used to think that it was as easy as a decision to get well. But now I realize that it doesn't happen that way. I can't just decide not to be depressed, but I can decide how to deal with it.
Having a depressive disorder is not the same as being depressed(sad).
"Sadness is a transient feeling that passes as a person comes to term with his troubles. Depression can linger for weeks, months or even years. The sad person feels bad, but continues to cope with living. A person with clinical depression may feel overwhelmed and hopeless." Nancy Schimeldfening, About.com
I write this for those who are similar to myself, and also to others so that we may be aware and not ignorant about this very 'real' illness.
Below are some resources and facts that might be useful:
- WHO's data on Depression
- Telling the difference between sadness and depression
- What IS depression and what's NOT
- Types of Depression
Also, here is a free online pro gramme that provides resources for coping with depression. It also has a simple test to identify whether you may need to seek professional help.
*frankly, I really dislike doing the activities for MOOD GYM,
but I have to admit that some of it makes sense.
I think at the end you still need to decide what is relevant for you and what's not.
To those who are facing somewhat similar conditions as myself, know that God sees and knows your pain, and He loves you. Sometimes, I find it hard to accept too, but I have to at least believe this fact.