The Depression Assignment

Depression touches our lives in many ways. Based on a newspaper or magazine article, book, movie, or personal contact with a depressed relative or friend, describe in some detail the effects of a depressive episode on a real person. Select one area of his or her life and describe it based on what you were able to find out. Was the individual similar to the individuals described in the text? In what ways? 

 

This is my prompt for my next assignment.

How in the hell am I supposed to do this?

This is how I’m going to do it. I’m going to sort out my thoughts here. I’m going to breakdown this prompt then go. I will also vent my frustrations with this prompt so I can simply answer the questions as to what my instructor would actually want to read. Sorry if none of you want to read this, but some insight would be great. Input from you would be most beneficial so please – comment. I would appreciate your words, but I understand if this topic is too difficult to touch upon or you would not like me to use your words. I will of course give credit if you wish.

…describe in some detail the effects of a depressive episode on a real person.

A depressive episode is like a jar of rocks, pebbles, sand, and water. The rocks, pebbles, and sand are all the things in your life. Rocks represent the big things, like family, friends, your health, faith (if it applies) – the important things. Pebbles are the smaller but still important things  – your job, school, finances, etc.. The sand is all the everyday little things that fill up time and energy. Even with all of that in a jar, there is still room. Room for a liquid that seeps into every single thing in your life. Big and small. It touches every part of your being and effects everything in some way, shape, or form. Water is mental illness. Water, for some, is depression. 

I know this metaphor has been used before and I’m not that incredibly original, but this is how I have been able to explain it to some. 

The water can be drained and everything in the jar can be left in place if you place a cloth over the mouth of the jar. The cloth is help – medications, therapy, support systems. Not every cloth does a good job of keeping things in tact. Some fabrics works better than other materials. It depends on the jar. It depends on a lot of factors. However, even when the water has been drained, some still remains. Dampness stays on the rocks, pebbles, and sand. It can become dry again. It can also become filled with water just as easily. It can also drown everything.

This is my metaphor to depressive episodes. Depression affects every aspect of your life. Even when a particular episode is over, it never really leaves you. The feelings, emotions, thoughts… everything stays with you, just to a less intense degree. You still remember. You still feel. You still think. Things can get better, but depression can also drown you. Suicide is very real. Remission is also real. It just depends.

I’m honestly having a hard time keeping my thoughts together. Forgive me – I’m running on little sleep, an abnormal sleep schedule, and at a high-risk period. My doctors are being super cautious with me. It feels like they think that one wrong step will completely shatter me and I’ll end up where I was a year ago.

Whoop.

Back to topic. The effects of a depressive episode… I mean, I could rattle off symptoms, but that’s just a load of bull and regurgitation. The symptoms enhance the feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness, and despair. Lack of sleep… energy decreases… you’re unable to focus in class when the professor is going over questions for the next exam. But why does it matter anyway? You’re so fucking stupid that it’s not like studying for this exam would help. You don’t care what you look like. You go to class without any makeup on. Maybe you showered that day, maybe it was a miracle that you were able to coax yourself out of bed to even go to class. People around you begin to complain that you’re not paying attention to them. Why do they care? Who knows. None of it makes sense. Friends remark how great you look from weight loss. Then they question why you’re not eating as much. Food tastes bland and eating makes you feel more fatigued. Why do it? It’s only going to make you fatter and therefore “less attractive” to the public eye. Fuck the public eye, your own eyes see it just as clearly. Doing things you would normally do like play a musical instrument, go out with friends, reading… it’s meaningless. You sit in bed all day and have a private pity party. It seems never ending. The thoughts numb you. Maybe you take a razor apart just to feel something. Then you don’t feel so numb. You feel almost calm. Relaxed even dare I say it. You begin to fantasize how much better off the world would be without you. It’s easy. People would cry. But life has a way of moving forward. Besides, the buildup of everyday agony becomes too much to bear. What else are you supposed to do?

I’m trying really hard not to lose my shit at Java House right now.

This is hard. This is really hard.

Select one area of his or her life and describe it based on what you were able to find out.

… How the fuck am I supposed to pick one area. Bull. Shit.

Typically, people don’t understand when you first tell them that you have depression. At least, that was my experience. Hell, I didn’t believe it at first when I was diagnosed. My father, who was a doctoral candidate for psychology straight up told me that I did not have depression. Some of the first friends that I opened up to about my situation shunned me. Most simply pretended that I was still fine. They didn’t know how to treat me. They especially didn’t know if they should treat me any differently. We’re all very stupid and naive. 

I became a recluse. I shut myself in my room and only left for class and rehearsals. I left my job for a time. I started drinking heavily. My social life ceased to exist. 

Even though I was still attending class and rehearsals most of the time, the quality of my work suffered. My ability to concentrate was poor and motivation to complete tasks was nonexistent. You can only imagine what it was like going into weekly lessons with one of the best classical saxophonists of our time when maybe once a week you would have a good practice session. 

…. We now have a very complicated relationship.

My self-esteem took the greatest hit. I was unable to look at myself in the mirror without complete disgust. My weight changed constantly and radically. I felt worthless. I couldn’t do anything right in my mind. I lost my faith due to feeling so unclean. How could someone that wanted to die every day set foot in a place where only love and acceptance is preached? Suicide is still murder so of course I was going to hell. My impending damnation and personal issues with religion created complications that to this day have not been fixed. I don’t think they ever will be either. 

No one listened. No one cared. I stopped caring. And this cycle was on and off for over a year. I had 3 major depressive episodes in the span of 14 months. 2 of those episodes landed me in the hospital. Both were forced hospitalizations. 

I don’t think this is something that can be simplified. At least, it impacted me so much that I can’t simplify it. My brain can’t. Or perhaps I’m too attached to this topic and refuse to let someone simplify my life. It has forever changed me and it still changes me to this day.

Was the individual similar to the individuals described in the text? In what ways? 

Yes and no. The text gave some samples of people that seemed to have extraordinary circumstances that it seems so logical that these people would have depression. Lucy had to take donations from the local food center in order to feed her family even though her husband got a promotion at his job. She feels so inadequate and that she is a failure of a mother. I mean, it seems pretty logical to me that she has depression. Life events are causes of depression. It has been researched (according to my textbook) that more people have their first depressive episode after a significant life event. I have problems with this though. 

Yes, I have had some significant life events that would make it seem so incredibly logical that I have depression. My mother passed away at a very young age, I had my whole future planned out since I was 13-years-old only to change my major during my first semester of college, and I have a family history of mood disorders. Logical, right?

At the same time, my first depressive episode that I can really pinpoint having significant symptoms of depression would be during my sophomore year of college, a year after a “significant life event”. It could have been present before then, but it didn’t seem to impact my life as much. 

There are always exceptions to general rules. I can accept to be one of them. I just don’t enjoy agreeing to generalizations. 

To me, my depression has always seemed so illogical. I have a difficult time understanding and making sense of my own feelings and interpreting them. They aren’t rational and it bothers me. It doesn’t change the thoughts though.

Alright, I either have to start drinking now or go for a run because all of this writing on such a heavy topic is both draining and anxiety-producing. Thoughts? Comments?

 

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