The Many Flavors of Sad
There should be more words to describe the endless varieties and subtleties of depression. As a life long sufferer of depression I feel I have tasted most of the flavors of sadness. If you have ever been depressed I know that you too will recognize the variations I will now describe.
The Pain of Grief and Loss
Every November I get the blues because a friend of mine passed away on Thanksgiving several years ago. We humans tend to make anniversaries of not just our joys but also our losses. I can't help but to re-visit my grief each time this holiday rolls around. Time does help but the feelings are all still there of both anger and pain. I still get mad that my friend left me. And I still feel the deep pang of hurt in the knowledge that my friend is never coming back. Grief isn't just the immediate reaction to loss. It is relived in memories and on anniversaries of the loss.
The "I don't care" type of sadness
Ironically sometimes depression means that we are seemingly unable to feel pain or anything else for that matter. Our emotional landscape is bare. We lack the energy to feel the emotions we normally would feel. Apathy sets in and a mantra of "I don't care." There is a great sense of giving up. It is within this place that we shut out the world and the people who try to help. The numbness offers a false protection from the deep well of pain which is right under the surface.
A Raging Depression
There is a lot of anger in depression. The image of the person who suffers from depression as someone quietly crying is not always so accurate. Many people who are depressed will express it in rage. Irritability, snapping out at loved ones and friends, sarcasm, emotional outbursts, are just some of the ways the anger can manifest. Lashing out can be a way of saying you need help. Some people self destruct by abusing alcohol or drugs. In some cases the rage may even come out in physical violence. It is important for people suffering depression to have an outlet for their anger, someone trustworthy to talk to as well as a safe means of expressing this emotion.
Self Pity and Wallowing Sadness
This is the type of depression where you wallow in your own misery. Friends and loved ones try to oust you from your pit of despair only to have you hunker down even more. "Nothing can help me" you declare. Any suggestion of movement from this place is met with resistance. You tell yourself that you are not worthy of help. You push others away because you feel that you don't matter anyhow. Everything is seen in a negative light and good things are considered a fluke or accident. The mantra of this type of sadness is, "Everything sucks so why bother?" This is the one of the most difficult phases of depression for friends and loved ones to witness. People may feel helpless to know how to connect with you.
Physically Tired and Depressed
Sometimes depression is the result of simply feeling exhausted. Stress and anxiety can certainly make one weary. If you expend all your energy in worrying you have little left over to take care of yourself. Physical illness can also make you feel run down. I have a disease called Multiple Sclerosis. One of the symptoms is great fatigue. It is hard to feel cheery when your body doesn't want to even get out of bed. People undergoing radiation therapy can often feel depressed because of a great depletion of energy. There are many reasons for feeling tired and run down. Depression itself causes fatigue and fatigue can cause depression. It is like asking if the chicken or the egg come first. Whenever I begin to feel depressed I look to physical causes first. I try to assess whether I have had enough rest or sleep. A good night's sleep can sometimes make a big difference in my mood.
The Eat Everything I See Melancholy
This type of mood seems to go along with the crying over lifetime movies and singing sad songs to the cat. This is the type of sadness usually induced by female hormones where one can ingest basically any item covered in chocolate. One can find themselves ironing towels one minute and the next minute find that you are blubbering into a giant bowl of Rocky Road Ice Cream. It is best not to talk to strangers during this time l'est you begin telling them your whole life story. Zits and weight gain are often the result of this temporary emotional turbulence.
The Bottom of the Well Depression
I call my depression "A trip to the well." There are times when I am sinking and then there are times when I fall to the bottom and remain there for weeks or months. I know that I am at the bottom of my well when I cannot sleep or else all I want to do is sleep. I know I am in trouble when I forget to eat. I begin to realize the depths of my depression when I no longer laugh or find joy in anything. When my despair reaches that point where I feel I cannot cope and the pain is so extreme that I would do anything to end it, then I know I am in a clinical depression. For those of you who know this place, you understand what hell it can be. The trick is to not let it get this bad. It is wise to get help before sinking this low.
I have given you but a quick glimpse into some of the variations of sadness and depression. Everyone will have their unique version of how they experience the many shades of blue. It just goes to show you that we are all on a continuum of experiencing human emotion. There isn't just one type of sadness. I am most interested in your particular varieties of depression. What types of sadness have you experienced? Tell us your thoughts. You just might help someone in the process.