Managing life with a heavy heart
Daniel talks about his experience with depression
This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact email@example.com.
As I, like many people I know, suffer from depression, I thought it would be an interesting thing to discuss as I’ve never really written about it. I've never been diagnosed with depression, but over the years I've realised that a lot of what I think or feel isn't healthy. Also, maybe this a shock to some people, but it never came up in conversation. Nobody really asks "How are you?", unless the reply they want is "grand".
Even though depression is a common thing for people today, and probably many generations before, it's still not given the attention it should be. With issues like this, people tend to shy away from talking about it. People are ashamed, which I find is unfortunate. People say 'that’s sad' a lot which is a very discouraging word, preventing people from talking about how they’re feeling. I honestly think people that use this word are sad themselves. Using a word like this to put down people who have the courage to open up is a very cowardly thing. Even though I suffer from this, as I do many other things, I still wonder how everyone else deals with theirs. I'm just very lucky I learned to use mine as motivation. I'm not trying to glamorise being mentally ill. It can be a horrible thing. I just don't think I'd be where I am today without it. It became the thing that drove me to open mics and live music nights almost every night, which helped me meet amazing people and make great contacts! The only problem was that after the fun was over, it was always the monster waiting for me when I got home.
For people who don't believe in mental illnesses, or wonder what it feels like, depression alone is extremely draining and demotivating. It's like the mind and body are completely separate. I could wake up one morning and decide I want to go to the gym early, but I just can't get up because the part of my brain, that moves my body I suppose just won't function. It feels like there's something really heavy in my chest just keeping me down. It takes hours until eventually I'm able to move. Although I'm up and moving, this 'heavy heart' feeling tends to come back very randomly. I could be in town or with friends, having a great day and this feeling comes back and I just feel dragged down, I need to go home and just collapse on the couch for hours. Just lying there in silence, sometimes even crying as I just feel like I’m trapped in hopelessness. Like I’ve fallen into a hole in the timeline of my life and I’m stuck there. Depression also kills your sex drive too. I could be talking to a girl I’m really into and then just lose interest. This is one of the reasons why I’ve never been keen on alcohol. It would become too easy to get addicted. “A few drinks just to loosen up” could turn into “I can’t stop drinking, otherwise I’ll just feel like shit!”
In conversation I have no filter. In the past I've mentioned the word depression; this caused the person I was talking to, to reply "Are you depressed?". Not in a way that they're suddenly concerned about me, but in a shocked way. I see posts on Facebook telling people they need to open up like it’s as easy as reading a book. It’s not that simple. From personal experience, you’ll more than likely end up being cut off and alienated for it. There have been months when I’ve just felt completely deflated and all I can talk about is everything that’s going wrong because my mindset has become so negative. I’ve had to learn to talk to people less during these times, otherwise everyone will just think I’m a buzzkill and they’ll stop talking to me. I think the best way to help somebody like this is to just listen. You don’t need any solutions or magic advice, just let them open up. It’s understandable, that you don’t want someone in your life who’s negative all the time but if you help them see the positive, it’s a lot better than making them feel like they’re on their own. Invite them to places instead of being caught up in your own bubble of happiness.
I’m not saying you need to befriend everybody that drags a dark cloud around with them 24/7, there’s a big difference between people who are depressed and someone who just loves being miserable. Depressed people try to keep the mood lit and have a great sense of humor. They’re people you love being around, but tend to have the odd mood swing or can be a bit off. The people who are always up for having fun because their house is wedged with their demons and they have to get out for a while.
I've had several people open up to me about their depression, suicidal thoughts, self harming and even abusive pasts. This is mainly due to my 'interview like' way of conversing. It doesn't take long to feel comfortable talking to me and I just listen. Also, I've spent a lot of time around drunk people so them being drunk had an effect on that too, although, not all of them were drunk. If you ever find yourself in this position, just stay calm. Even if you want to get out of it, just remain listening for as long as you can, instead of having a “I don’t care” attitude. I’ve listened to people just open up and talk for hours. I’d never expect anyone else to do that, and you don’t have to be amazing at handling these situations, but even if you give them 30 or 40 minutes of your time, it’ll make a world of difference. The fact that they feel comfortable saying this stuff to you is enough.