After the sad death of Robin Williams I found an interesting post by blogger Tom Hawking that highlights that depression is not particular sadness, but rather a profound sense of nothing.
Depression isn’t about feeling sad, it’s about feeling nothing. And how do you fight nothing? As Hyperbole and a Half writer Allie Brosh wrote:
The most frustrating thing about depression [is that] it isn’t always something you can fight back against with hope. It isn’t even something — it’s nothing. And you can’t combat nothing. You can’t fill it up. You can’t cover it. It’s just there, pulling the meaning out of everything. That being the case, all the hopeful, proactive solutions start to sound completely insane in contrast to the scope of the problem.
Indeed. You don’t battle depression, you endure it. Or perhaps even that word isn’t quite right — you simply experience it, day after day. You take the pills and try to continue living and tell yourself that it won’t last forever, that eventually the fog will lift, because it always does, sooner or later. But when you’re in that fog, you can’t see anything but emptiness. Plenty of our great artists have done a better job of portraying this than me. Leonard Cohen compared depression to stepping into an avalanche, while Nas once wrote, “I need a new nigga for this black cloud to follow/ ‘Cos while it’s over me it’s too dark to see tomorrow.” That’s exactly how it is.
While depression can be a sense of sadness, anxiety or even anger, for many people it’s a feeling of numbness, lack of energy, and loss of anything that brought joy. Some have so little energy they can’t even get out of bed, attending to self care or even eat.
Can you imagine how this could lead to a life that is not felt worthy of continuing?
Importantly however is that there can be light. There are treatments for depression, effective treatments. The key is to be able to recognise that something is wrong, and to reach out for help.
The first step can be seeking help with your family doctor or GP.
I urge you, if you are suffering there is help available. If you are watching someone suffer, you can be part of this help.
Reach out, ask the question “do you need help?” You can be part of a solution that can save a life.