kept the flowers

Don’t know what you got till it’s gone

You would think that at this very moment we all know how we’re feeling. You know if you’re sad, pissed, anxious, etc. But there’s one emotional state that can sneak up on us: depression. It’s like a ninja.

sneaky catIt seems that sometimes I don’t even know I was depressed until it has lifted. (This is really just for the more mild bouts of depression—I certainly know when I’m super depressed). Sometimes it’s only when I think back to past months that I realize, oh shit…I was actually depressed that whole time.

It seems such a strange thing to me. Depression can be so crippling—how could I possibly not know when I’m depressed? I guess it’s because when you spend most of your life experiencing this state (even at low levels) that you get used to it. I just think this is how I’m supposed to feel. That not wanting to go out with friends or talk to people is normal—I’m just tired.

I keep a daily health journal where I document my moods, sleep meds, etc. Sometimes when I’m reading back through, I’ll realize that I reported my mood higher than it actually was. Having the 20/20 hindsight, I can remember more clearly how I actually felt and realize that I was just thinking my lower mood was normal.

So the question, I guess, is whether or not this matters. There’s little you can do to lift depression when you have it, so what does it matter if you don’t even know you have it? I suppose knowledge is power and at least if you can recognize you’re a bit depressed you can try to fight it—maybe exercise or force yourself to get out and socialize or do a hobby.

Either way, I hope we all get to a point where feeling even mildly depressed isn’t a ‘normal’ feeling. It should be something we do recognize because it’s actually different than the way we normally feel.

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Allow me to question your diagnosis

There are so many fun things about mental illness. It’s a regular smorgasbord of awesome.mental illness

But one of my most recent faves is the diagnosis questioning. i.e., the complete devaluation of your medical condition.

Yes, medical condition. But that’s the problem—people don’t see mental illnesses as real, biological conditions. It goes something like this:

“Yeah, I know you were told you’re bipolar II…but what if you’re not?”

That’s no different than saying, “I know you were told you have diabetes…but what if you don’t?” But so many people don’t see that.

And the worst part of it all is when the questioning comes from friends and family…the people who are on your side, who support you.

So shouldn’t they understand? Why don’t they get it? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because we never receive a real education about mental health; because of the stigma that continues to surround it; because it’s a really scary concept to wrap your head around about someone you love.

Regardless of the cause, it hurts. I don’t know how frequently this happens to other people, but I have to imagine it’s not just me. And that’s what makes me want to do something, anything, to make a difference on this issue…to raise awareness so that the stigma melts away just a little.

Suffering from a mental illness is bad enough—having it questioned on top of that just twists the knife even further.

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