Depression is different for different people. While there are similar experiences and feelings, there is no typical pattern that everyone has.
However your depression feels to you is real, and just as valid as anyone else’s depression.
It can hang on for long stretches on time from a few weeks to a few months. It can seem to go away and then reappear without any warning.
Some people have periods of the day where they are mostly fine only to wake up feeling the darkness of depression covering them like a black blanket in the morning. Depression can feel like the enemy.
There is no normal way to have depression because depression is not the normal way for the brain to behave.
There are organic differences in the brains of people who suffer from depressive disorders. It is a real illness with physiological evidence. Anyone that tells you that it is not real has not done their homework.
One of the worst things about having depression is that people will invalidate you and tell you that you are being a baby. They are able to shake off their sadness and frustration …so why can’t you?
Well, it does not work that way. People with depression cannot just shake it off or will themselves to get better. There is no magic pill to take or fairy wand to wave.
Depression haunts you and threatens you.
Medication can sometimes help but it is not a magic pill that cures you.
If you are suffering with depression, please know that you are not alone. There are many bloggers that write about depression. You can find support here so that you will not have to feel completely alone.
People with mental illness are threatened and tormented by their own brains just like people with physical diseases are threatened by their own bodies.
In addition mental illnesses like depression also cause physical pain. There is a real feeling in the body that depression causes. It is different for different people but there is always pain in the body.
Don’t give up. You are not alone. Your mental health matters and you have just as much of a right to feel well as anyone else does.
Touch is a fundamental communication between people. It allows us to communicate compassion better that words or facial expression.
Touch is the most important element of bonding and compassion between humans.
There are neurochemical effects of skin to skin touch. Compassionate touch is critical for the brain and the body to be healthy. We need human touch to be well.
We need human touch in order to have good mental health. People who are touch deprived can develop mental illness.
People with mental illness can become worse from a lack of pleasant physical touch.
Compassionate touch reduces stress hormones, including cortisol. When someone touches your skin in a pleasant way, it makes you feel calmer and safer. Anxious feelings can be reduced and your nervous system can be calmed.
People deprived of pleasant physical touch can develop high levels of stress hormones.
High levels of stress hormones on a regular basis will cause a condition of severe anxiety disorder. Depression is often a condition that goes hand in hand with anxiety disorders.
“When a person receives a pleasing touch, the hormone oxytocin is released in the brain. Oxytocin is linked with human bonding, socializing and maternal instincts. It helps alleviate anxiety and fear and is critical in trust-building. There is even a specialized part of the nervous system in our skin, known as tactile C fibers, that is specialized to pick up compassionate touch.” Pracha Touch
Physical touch can promote healing in the body and reduce the likelihood for disease and illnesses.
This includes both physical and mental illnesses. Insomnia can be relieved by the hormone balancing effect of skin to skin touch that is pleasant.
Some people with mental illness may have been touch deprived as infants and as children.
There is research about the necessity of touch for proper development and growth.
There was research by John Bowlby and Renee Spitz, during WW II, about the effect of touch on infants. Infants that were orphans, living in institutional settings were not held by the caregivers.
The lack of compassionate touch caused a 75% mortality rate. Also, the infants had a lower weight and length than infants of the same age. They did not develop properly due to the lack of being comforted. The compassionate touch of the mother is comforting to an infant and reduces fear and anxiety of the baby.
Babies need to have their nervous systems regulated by the mother. Infants do not have the capacity to regulate their own nervous systems. Infants even regulate their breathing with their mother’s breathing. Babies that sleep with their mother have a dramatically lower incidence of infant death syndrome.
If the baby forgets to take a breath, the mothers breath on the baby’s face will cause the baby to draw in a breath. The baby will be calmed by the sound of its mother’s heartbeat.
“In some of the most dramatic new findings, premature infants who were massaged for 15 minutes three times a day gained weight 47 percent faster than others who were left alone in their incubators – the usual practice in the past. The massaged infants also showed signs that the nervous system was maturing more rapidly: they became more active than the other babies and more responsive to such things as a face or a rattle.” Daniel Goleman New York Times
The United States is one of the most touch deprived countries in the world. In studies, we come up second to England
In the 1960s, psychologist Sidney Jourard, studied the conversations of friends in different parts of the world. He observed friends as they spent time together in a café.
In England, the two friends touched each other zero times. In the United States, there was an average of 2 touches during the conversation. But in France, the frequency of touch was 110 times per hour. And in Puerto Rico, the friends touched each other an average of 180 times!
It is possible that the mental health crisis in the US has something to do with the fact that we are a “No-touch” culture.
Depression can feel like there are dark storm clouds all around you. They feel like they are closing in and there is no way out. Depression can feel like it is coming in at you from the outside, although we know the feelings are being generated from the inside.
There is no way to see the sun or any hope beyond the heavy feeling of the depression piling on top of us. This depression can feel like an ominous being that had captured us in its clutches. It can feel like the clouds of darkness are choosing to surround us rather than the people around us.
It can feel like the depression is settling upon our home, our bedroom, our brain, our heart or around our body. It is perceived differently by different people. But there is often this feeling of the depression being around us, on top of us and putting weight in us that makes it feel hard to move our bodies in space.
One idea that sometimes can help is to take ourselves out of the depression clouds by changing our point of view and perception just for a few minutes.
We can detach from this picture we have of the depression surrounding us by taking ourselves out of the “first person” of our story.
We all tell our own story every day. There is a kind of narrative playing in our brains. Each thing that happens in our narrative had a meaning to us.
Picture that you are watching the story from the outside. You are watching it as you would watch a tv show or a YouTube Video. For this few minutes you are in within the clutches of the depression all around you, but you are without ….you are outside of the entire story all together.
Emotionally Detach From What You are Watching So You Can Observe
In order to detach from feeling too much negative emotion while watching yourself in the story, you can control the volume, the vividness of color and the distance this “tv” or “Movie screen” you are watching this on. Reduce the volume, make the colors different, and push the screen away from you until you feel more detached like an audience, rather than the main character in the story.
From this outside, detached point of view we can see what meaning we assign to different things is our story. Let’s say that in our story we lost our job or were yelled at by the boss. As an outside observer of the story we can see what meaning the main character (that is us) is attaching to these events of losing our job or being yelled at.
Look at the main character as if you are not emotionally attached to them. You are seeing yourself as a neutral character in a story. But observe how this character assigns meaning to these events.
What meaning did she assign to losing her job? Does she feel this means she is worthless? Does she feel this means she will continue to become more financially devastated and that it was her destiny to become financially devastated?
What meaning does he assign to getting yelled at by the boss? Does he feel he is inadequate? Does he feel that he was yelled at because he cannot fit in with other people?
Once we see what meaning we are assigning to events in out story, we can question these meanings. Did we assign meanings to these events that are accurate? Are we sure these meanings can be proven? Can they be disproven? Has there ever been any evidence in this main character that they are not useless?
Has anyone ever told this main character that they were useful, wanted or skillful and intelligent? Is there any way we can counter the negative meaning the main character in our story has assigned to different things?
This practice of coming outside of our narrative can help our brains to get out of certain learned behaviors. Our brains will go into the usual behaviors that they are used to but these are not always helpful behaviors for our brains to do. These are learned behaviors and are sometimes developed out of post traumatic stress.
Our brains are designed to scan for danger and to take us away from what the brain perceives as danger. When that danger seems to be all around us, our brain has no where to take us but deep inside of ourselves. There is no where else to run away to.
So this practice of mentally removing ourselves from the “first person” in the story and taking the point of view of the third person, can make us an audience to our own brains and what our brains have been wired to do. It is good to ask questions about what thoughts our brains are thinking.
These are learned brain behaviors almost like an addiction. The brain has been used to thinking certain kinds of thoughts in response to certain kinds of triggers and feelings of threat.
Practice this technique for five to ten minutes, a few times a day. Ask questions about the meaning that you attach to events and other things in your life. If you are living below your desired living level..what meaning does your brain assign to this? Then ask if it is necessarily true? Why is it true? What other meaning might you be able to choose to assign to this?
This practice is cognitive work. This cognitive work can take you out of the feelings of depression while you are doing it. The brain cannot focus on more than one thing at a time with a lot of power.
There is a primary focus of the brain. If your primary focus is on this cognitive kind of practice then some of the fuel will be drawn away from the emotional overload that the brain was caught up in.
The more we question our own thoughts, the more we can seek truth. The truth about ourselves is that we have innate value. Other people do not assign value to us. They have no control over our actual value.
Our actions and accomplishments do not determine our innate value either. So question the meaning you have been used to assigning to things in your life. Things that happen do not take away the fact that you are valuable and special because of the person that you are.
10:30 am. I have not slept all night.
The pain meds are working now for the sciatic pain I was having before. But why am I still awake.
I do not want to be driving with my kids in the car on no sleep….
Maybe I have to say no kids come out with me today. Bad enough if I have to drive….
4:39 am. I am fading now. Pain in my hips and knees tells me a storm is coming in. Feeling peaceful at the moment. Possibly due to the Percocet that I took. The ER gave me a prescription the other night. Yet the arthritis pain still torments, even through the Percocet …but maybe I will sleep and the pain will wait.
Usually when the arthritis pain is bad, it wakes me a few times during the night to fight to reposition my body with all of these pillows and stuffed animals
…to try to find a better position…and sometimes…nothing works.
So we will see what we will see…I have to be me…now I digress..from digressing…
Yeah maybe the meds are working….dreams are beginning to come…yet I fear the nightmares that could intrude at their whim….or not….you never can tell…I don’t know why
Once your brain has been injured…by someone..the nightmares can come in..when they choose…until you can completely heal and be done with that person in your head…but still….
are they ever out of your brain?
Tired I am and tired is overtaking me….
Sleep now…while the rest of you are waking for the day….
Such a bad schedule…must fix one day…
Tomorrow is for errands and chores …but I would rather rest…
How do you know you are in one?
How can someone else know you are in one?
A mental crisis is when you wonder “am I in a mental crisis?”
You know you are in one because you were googling “mental crisis” or you searched “mental health crisis” until you ended up reading this post
You know you are in a mental crisis when you begin trying to think of reasons to live for
You know you are in a mental crisis when you can no longer do things that you used to do easily, because of your feelings of severe depression
You know you are in a mental crisis when you just sit and cry because the pain is so great
You know you are in a mental crisis when you are struggling to find any light at the end of this darkness
This is the frightening part
Even when we try to communicate to someone, like our best friend, that we are in a mental crisis, they do not always understand
1. It is difficult to impossible, to communicate to someone you are in a mental crisis because everyone communicates differently. You really have to just come out and say the words “I am in a mental crisis. I am wondering if I can continue living.”
2. It is not something that you can beat around the bush about, because the longer you try to tell them and they do not understand, the more hopeless you will feel. If you cannot get the message across quickly, then you may lose your energy for telling them, and give up.
3. When you try to communicate a mental crisis to someone by starting with the details, like emotions and thoughts, they will not get it. Even people who have mental illness, who should know the signs, are often too caught up in themselves to really hear you.
4. People are dense. much of the time, and also they do not want to think you are in a mental crisis. They do not want this to be in their reality. When people do not want something in their reality, then they do not perceive signs and symptoms, to come to the conclusion.
5. You have to say “I am in a mental crisis.” Yes I know that I wrote this already, but it is important enough to tell you again.
6. Another reason it is hard to communicate that you are in a mental crisis, and/or suicidal, is that your thoughts can be confused and disorganized. There is so much emotional / mental overload, that the words are difficult to put together. It is hard to know what to say or how to say it.
7. There is an unknown factor of what they will do when you tell them. There is a fear that they will not understand, and this can come true. In this case, you can try again or you might have to go on to the next person on your list. Speaking of the list…any of us who are a candidate for a severe mental crisis or suicidal thoughts, should have a “save me” list of people and resources.
8. You may feel so worthless and ashamed at this point that you feel uncomfortable telling someone.There are alternate methods, if the first try fails. If you cannot tell someone in person, then try over the phone.
If you cannot do it over the phone, then try email, texting, blogging, poetry or whatever works, but do something that will get across to someone as fast as possible.
This is the most difficult thing for me to understand. If any of you have suggestions about this, please let me know. I have trouble communicating during a mental crisis. It feels like my ability to communicate goes down. The words do not come out of my mouth.
Maybe it is a matter of who you are trying to get help from.
Should be try to communicate with someone who has mental illness or someone who does not?
This is a really good question and the answer is probably that it matters more “who” the person is, rather than whether or not they have been through mental suffering.
In some ways it seems that, a person with mental illness would understand better. If they have been in a mental crisis before, then they should recognize it and also know how frightening it feels. They “should” be sympathetic.
I guess it depends of what mental state they are in at the time. it also depends on their personality. If they are a very caring person, then maybe they will click it in right away that you need help. If they are self absorbed, then they may not understand.
People that do not have mental illness, do not understand what it feels like to be in crisis, or have suicidal thoughts. But that does not mean that they cannot feel sympathy for you, and know how to listen.
Unfortunately, people in general, have lost the art of listening. Many people do not know how to listen, never mind see and identify signs that someone needs urgent help.
You need to have people that will be able to help you, if you do have a crisis. The best time to work on this, is when you are in a relatively normal (for your mental condition) state of mind. When you are able to think more rationally, then it is a better time to organize your “get help” plan.
I have never called the hotlines, but I have heard that people have been able to get some help there, at least enough to reduce the level of suffering, in order to think of the next thing to do. I am not a great fan of the emergency room, but for some people it may be the best thing.
I really think that we should be able to have friends that are there for us. There are so many people in the world that there have to be some people that can be compassionate for you. Sometimes I feel like they are not around me in person.
If there is no one around in person, then there are people on the internet. I have read suicide blog posts and seen how many people came to the person in the comments section and actually made them feel validated. There is nothing wrong with the random acts of kindness from perfect strangers about this. Sometimes a stranger can be more sympathetic to you, than the people around you.
I think the important thing is to recognize when you are having a mental crisis. If you are in severe mental pain, that is more than you can tolerate, then it is a crisis.
I think I have been rambling and I apologize for that.
There is no worse feeling of utter aloneness
than when someone that loves you
sees and knows you are hurting
and leaves you alone with your mind
when you desperately needed their time
Who is left to hold us when the nights get dark
After we have watched them walk away one by one?
Thoughts of utter terror filling our hearts
Vulnerable and frozen from fear
Who is left to listen to our racing thoughts
After we have heard them all hang up,
one by one?
Because no one wants to be close to you now
When your life is ruled by fear
and your mind is so tormented by trauma