I am very open about my struggle with depression. I share and answer as many questions as possible in hopes that it will aid the next person. However there are questions that I simply can’t bring myself to answer anymore. So here they are:
1. You are so happy, you can’t be depressed?
I’m an emotional chameleon, easily masking my emotions to fit in with those around me. From a young age I learnt that people don’t want to hear how you really feel. Negative feelings make people gravitate away from you as everyone knows negativity is infectious. Many depression sufferers hide their pain behind fake smiles and giggles. This is why the ” happiest ” people seem to commit suicide. So in most cases I’m not okay or happy, I just want to make sure you remain in a positive space.
2. You are Christian and depressed?! Clearly you don’t pray enough
I remember having a conversation with my former MD and being made to feel like I’m less of a Christian. I would soon learn that depression is taboo in Christianity. You don’t talk about it as it reflects badly on your faith. Many of the people I talk to about my depression make me feel weak and unchristian; almost as though God can’t love someone with a disease like mine.
3. Why do you need a psychiatrist?
Although many doctors prescribe antidepressants, it is best to see and receive treatment from a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists are like doctors and psychologists in one. They determine which psychological disorder you have, they prescribe medication best suited for this disorder, and they monitor how you respond to this medication. Psychiatrists also provide talk therapy (not to the extent of psychologist) which they use to determine the efficacy of the treatment.
4. Aren’t antidepressants addictive? You need to stop taking them
I need antidepressants like a diabetic needs insulin. Without them I may find it almost impossible to sleep, eat, shower or leave the house. It’s that simple.
5. Dating must be hard with your depression and all
My family is still getting to grips with my diagnosis. It would be selfish to expect a stranger to immediately understand, and be comfortable with what I’m going through. So no, I do not date. And yes, it is difficult to date because depression is not something you can hide. Sooner or later, you will have to bring it up and talk about it.
6. Why are you always sick / tired?
Although depression is a mental disorder, it does manifest itself physically. A very common manifestation is terribly back pains. For months I went to a physiotherapist in order to help manage the pain as painkillers no longer helped. As for the fatigue, this is due to two reasons: either you sleep too much or too little. During most of my varsity life I lived on less than 3 hours of sleep a day. A bad spell would see me go for a week with no sleep. I began suffering from chronic fatigue, where even sleeping pills did little to help. This changed when I began to work. I would find myself wanting to sleep for hours on end. I would sleep for 12 hours or longer, and I would still be tired. This left me lethargic. I still have days when this happens. It acts as a good indicator that I’m getting too more depressed than usual.
7. Stop telling people you are depressed, it freaks them out
I share my experience because I don’t want people to live with the stigma of mental disorders. I want people to be comfortable with the concept of seeing psychologists and seeking help when necessary. I want people to realise that mental disorders are real, and not only for a specific section of society.
Depression is a serious disease that goes undetected. If you suspect those you love suffer from any mental disorder, be supportive and encourage them on their journey to recovery. Please avoid the above questions:)