“What is the trigger?” people ask me. I don’t know. I just begin to feel myself fade away. Slowly, everything becomes black.
When I finally wake, I am trapped in my own body. My soul speaks but my lips refuse to move. I watch as people look into my eyes as though searching for proof of life. I can’t reach out to touch them. I can’t ask for help. My body becomes a fortress, and I am the only prisoner. And when I’m alone, the depression surfaces. It fills my head with all sorts of worries and fears, making me believe that the world would be better of without me. It pushes me further into a dark corner, cutting me off from all those that are able and willing to help me. Like a jealous boyfriend, it wants me all to itself.
Does the above sound familiar? Below are ten warning signs that you or a loved one may be suffering from depression.
1. Changes in patterns (insomnia and sleeping too much)
When I was in my third year at university, I could hardly get out of bed. I wanted to sleep all the time. There were moments where I would wake up, shower and then go back to sleep. Nothing seemed important or relevant besides sleep. However when I got to my fourth year, I couldn’t sleep at all. I was always awake. I found myself going for days with little to no sleep. I would be moody and agitated because my mind seemed to be working all the time.
2. Chronic Fatigue
Even when I got over 10 hours of sleep, I was still very tired. I would miss work because my body felt too exhausted to function at it’s normal rate. At first I would attribute it to stress caused by unrealistic deadlines. However I found that even on holidays when stress was at zero, my energy levels were still poor.
3. Thoughts of death or suicide
My fascination with my own death became a recurring thought. I would think of ways I could make my death look like an accident so that my family didn’t have to deal with the shame of a suicide. I even tried on a few occasions (thankfully I was not successful).
4. Changes in eating patterns
It is normal to have weight fluctuations, it’s another thing for your relationship with food to change drastically. During my worst episodes, I would lose a lot of weight because I couldn’t bring myself to eat. I felt fat and disgusting; food became the enemy.
5. Persistent sadness
It’s normal to get sad. There are many things that occur everyday that can leave us feeling down. However with depression I noticed that these feelings of depression would come out of the blue. One moment I would be happy and laughing, the next I would be crying heavily without knowing the cause. These crying spells would last for weeks, growing in intensity.
6. Physical pain that won’t go away
For the longest time I had terrible back pains. I thought it was perhaps the heavy bags I carried to school, or the car accident I was in later on in university. I went to doctors and physiotherapists to see if I could find a way to make the main go away. The back pains were crippling. I would lie in bed unable to move because the pain was too much to bear. All the years I visited my doctors, not one thought it could be depression.
7. Difficulty concentrating, memory and decision making
I’m not sure how I got my degree. Most of my varsity life seems to be a haze. I do remember never really finishing anything because I couldn’t focus. My mind would jump from one idea to another, trying to decide which was more important. Making me look indecisive and unaware of my surroundings. People would call me random because I would talk about a million things in one sentence, not knowing that my brain was trying to filter and remember at speeds faster than it could manage.
8. Loss of interest in hobbies and other activities
Everything seems to slow down when you are depressed. The things you loved start to seem like a waste of time. The world becomes dull. It is almost as though you can see the colour wash out of life; the vivid kaleidoscope of colour becomes a dull grey. I would find myself not wanting to write or listen to music because it felt pointless.
9. Feeling of hopelessness
The one feeling that I always remember when I think of my episodes is the feeling of total despair. Everything feels lost. I remember feeling as though my world was ending, and no one could stop it. There was no bright side, or silver lining. It felt like everyday was spent in the shadows of sorrow and sadness, and I couldn’t escape.
10. Anger and irritability
The smallest thing would get on my nerves. If someone walked passed me and brushed my shoulder I would get upset. In my mind it was as though the world was out to get me, and I had to defend myself. In those moments I felt alone and insecure; I felt like a wounded animal.
If any of these signs apply to you or a loved one, talk about it and seek help. Having an environment where you feel safe to share your emotions is crucial to winning the fight against depression.