Monday, 2 July 2018
Feeling Your Emotions- Sadness and Depression (Part 1)
This is the next post in my Feeling Your Emotions series. It follows on from Anger- Part 1 and Anger- Part 2. You can read the Introduction post here: https://fallingpetalsuk.blogspot.com/2017/11/feeling-your-emotions-introduction.html
Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor, so if you're having mental/physical issues please seek medical help in addition to reading this. :)
Note: It's taken me a while to write this, I think like with anger, it's not a particularly easy subject. As with the Anger posts, I've decided to break it into two parts. This post will focus on sadness and depression in general, and the 2nd part will look into healing and what you can do to feel better in general.
I've titled this post "Sadness and Depression" because I believe they're different in the way that sadness is a natural state that everyone feels at some point in their life, whereas depression is more of an intense, prolonged sadness and it's classed as a mental health condition. I've also heard depression described as "anger turned inwards". So I'm looking at them both. For more on the differences you can read these articles:
Update 4/11/19: This post explains it well: https://www.blurtitout.org/2018/01/04/understand-difference-sadness-depression/
Sadness is something we all feel sometimes, just like we all feel happy, scared, angry etc. Sadness isn't seen as particularly positive, if someone is down we say, "Don't be sad" and there are phrases like, "Put on a happy face". And when people ask how we are, a lot of us just reply with, "I'm ok thanks", or "I'm fine". In my case I find that easier than going into how I'm really feeling because I'm a private person (find it much easier to express myself through writing and online) and also I don't really think people want to hear, "Well actually I feel really awful and suicidal today!" (Or they don't expect to hear that anyway). But I'm learning that when we're sad, sometimes we just need to feel it and express it. As with anger, if we suppress our sadness it can be bad for us.
Sadness seems more fleeting to me, like when we're children we just got sad or upset about something and then moved on to the next thing.
Why do we feel sad?
We can feel sad for many reasons- things aren't working out how we'd hoped/we can't get something we want, we've been rejected, because of bad things that happen to us or our family members (illness, death, job loss, robbery, relationship break-ups), feeling lonely, the state of the world in general etc. Some of these reasons also relate to anger.
Depression is like a more intense, longer lasting sadness (that's how I would define it). Also see the links above about the differences between depression and sadness. Here are some links about depression:
There are different types, such as bipolar disorder (previously called manic depression) and psychotic depression. I don't have experiences of these and so won't be focusing on them, but if you have, or you know of any helpful resources for people with these disorders, please share. (If you feel comfortable to). :)
Here are some links with info and help for people with bipolar:
A few years ago I also came across the term dysthymia depression, which I believe is chronic (long term) mild depression. I first heard it on Kelsey Aida's site. In Part 2 I will link to her post about how she healed from depression.
Although I can't cover them all in depth, at the end of this post I will share a few more links for people with depressive disorders.
People experience depression differently, so I'll describe how my depression feels to me- deep sadness, despair, thinking things will never get better, looking ahead and seeing nothing good in life, only more of the same. And looking back and seeing nothing (or very little) good either. Feeling trapped in my life and like there's no point to anything. Sometimes it feels like we're all just floating in nothingness and this (life) is all just a facade.
I think my worst periods of depression were in my mid-late teens and early 20s. I remember when I was 14 I just didn't see what the point was- getting up, going to school, coming home and having tea (dinner), doing homework etc., then going to bed. And the next day you got up and did it all again. Just didn't understand what it was all for. Like we just do these things because "society" says we should. Since then the anxiety has taken over more but I still have times when the depression is worse.
Grief might need a post all of its own in future, but I'll touch on it briefly here. Grief is what you feel when you lose someone, or something. It tends to be most often associated with losing a person or a pet to death, but you can also experience grief when a relationship breaks up, if you are separated by someone for some reason (e.g. losing custody of your children or your friend moves away), or just due to loss of a certain way of life (perhaps after an illness or becoming retired). It's a natural process that humans go through. When going through the grieving process people are likely to experience the emotions I've been writing about- anger, sadness, depression and anxiety (anxiety will be coming up in a future post).
I've experienced grief when my grandparents died (my grandad when I was 13, around the time I became depressed and I believe his death contributed to my depression) and my grandma when I was nearly 28. As a child my mum left my dad and came back to England with me, so I would have felt grief at losing my father in the way, although I don't remember it. Last year my girl cat died which also deeply affected me. I would say I've also experienced grief at the loss of friendships.
Here are a few articles on grief:
5 stages of grief (based on the work of Elizabeth Kubler Ross): https://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/
The last article is by author, teacher and activist Sobonfu Some who talks about how in her country (Burkina Faso in West Africa) the community grieves with somebody when they've suffered a loss. I used to live in Lesotho (Southern Africa) when I was young, and my mum told me that when someone lost a family member, she and some others went to sit in their house with them to grieve. In the UK and Western countries in general we have funerals but that's about as far as community grieving goes. I think this is something we could look into in the West.
Ok, that's it for now. In the next post I'll look at suicide and suicidal feelings, and then move on to dealing with, and healing, sadness and depression. (Or rather healing depression because sadness is a natural state). Hope this post has helped you, or led you to help in some way. Please also check out the Resources below. :)
More on dysthymia:
One woman's story of living with depression and anxiety:
Note: Don't know why the above link has gone funny, but it works ok!
E-community for people with bipolar: https://www.bipolaruk.org/
Stories of people who have bipolar disorder: https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/category/blog/bipolar
Site geared towards children and young people: https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/conditions/bipolar-disorder/
General depression information: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression/types-of-depression
You can also access the Resources and Helpful Articles Library by clicking here and here, on the highlighted links, or to the top right of the blog. :)
Photo: Moonsparkle 2016, 2018.