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Depression - Shedding Light on the Invisible Illness

March 30, 20244 min read

Recognizing the signs of someone living with depression is not as easy as we would expect it to be.

Often when we think of someone who is depressed, we imagine a gloomy disheveled individual, who has isolated from others and is constantly expressing the negative. That’s not always the case.

Depression is something I’ve lived with all my life. I have witnessed it and as a teenager began to experience it on an on and off basis.

In my case, depression struggles have most likely been inescapable. According to Stanford Medicine, causes can range from trauma to stress, and there are instances where hereditary factors come into play.

It is difficult for me to admit, but there have been times in my life when I have been in deep spirals of depression. What does that look like?

Well typical signs of depression are continuous low moods, feelings of hopelessness, tearfulness, irritability, lack of motivation, difficulty making decisions, self harming thoughts or actions, and suicidal thoughts. At least those are the interior signs of depression.

On the other hand, exterior signs are not easily recognized. Many depressed people appear perfectly happy to those around them. A prime example was Robin Williams.

I once had the pleasure of knowing a kind, happy, funny man who was always the life of the party, until the day he decided to end his life. Those of us who knew him were completely taken aback; there had been no exterior clues to the inner turmoil he was experiencing, which is why it is vital to spot the signs in oneself and seek help.

Over the last few months, I’ve found myself once again struggling with depression, and I’ve been experiencing all the symptoms. Sometimes it’s difficult to go about my daily tasks. Because, I’ve been here before I knew quite early that I was heading down a bad path.

What many don’t understand is that it’s not controllable. A person can’t just snap out of it, no matter how much they want to. Living with depression is a constant uphill battle. Every day tasks can seem insurmountable. It’s like having feet made of cement and slowly making your way up a steep mountain side, while carrying a large bolder. Every step is excrutiating but necessary.

Many years ago while going through a depressive period I attempted suicide, thankfully I wasn’t successful, and today as tired as I feel, I know that suicide is not an option. I understand the pull to stop the constant inner pain, but as a Christian, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother, it’s not something I would do. It goes against all my values and beliefs. So I keep pulling myself up the mountain, knowing this too will pass.

Some strategies I use to move forward include:

  1. I force myself to dress, put on make up, do my hair and wear something nice. When we look good, it makes us feel good. I realize it might sound impossible to do, when in the throws of despair, but it’s literally taking one step at a time.

  2. I tend to read the bible and pray daily. "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10 ESV).

  3. Even a little bit of exercise can make the day better by increasing blood flow to the brain and releasing endorphins which has a mood boosting effect.

  4. Stay away from drugs and alcohol. It’s easy to give in to temptation to numb the pain, but these are temporary fixes that in the long haul will further exhacerbate the problem.

  5. Listen to music. I usually choose worship music, because it improves my mood and allows me to feel closer to God, but any uplifting music works.

  6. Seek help, don’t isolate yourself, talk to your doctor, therapist, friends. Find a support system.

Even today, talking about depression can be difficult, due to many stigmas and misunderstandings when dealing with mental health.

Being depressed does not mean you are weak, fractured or defective in some way. Instead it means you have been holding onto stress, trauma, and/or inner turmoil for far to long. It takes a strong person to live with this illness, and needing help is nothing to feel ashamed about.

The more we talk about mental health, the more we can help to destigmatize and bring greater understanding to light.

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Monika Polefka-Proulx

Monika is an author, publisher, and coach. Her company, Reach Love Connect, comprises two parts - Reachout Publishing and her family coaching program, Unreachable Reach. Reachout Publishing facilitates publishing while working closely with authors to share stories that inspire, educate, entertain, and spread joy. Her mission is to amplify hope, comfort, and grace through meaningful content that can impact people’s lives. Monika also coaches families of troubled teens, using her 5-STEP R.E.A.C.H process to identify Root causes, Open Eyes and awknowledge blinders, Attack negative behaviors and influences, Chase family harmony, and Heal the family unit. Monika is the author of - No Matter What - How Far Would You Go to Save Your Child? She has also written several children’s books.

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