Depression: How To Find the Color Within the Grays

The color in a gray mask.

On the outside, I smile.

Probably because one of the worst things someone can say about depression is: “What could you possibly be depressed about? You should be counting your blessings!” The truth is, I do count my blessings. Of course, I know that I’m blessed. My depression is separate from how blessed I feel.

I felt inspired to write this post because I wanted to expand on the Flickr caption for this image; one of the features of our Fleur de Cee business is associating our images with personal, relatable stories. In sharing what goes on with us, we’re hoping to reach someone who needs to hear, “You’re not alone” and offer the encouragement to talk to someone, if necessary. It’s very important to reach out for help.

Depression is not always an all-encompassing feeling. I knew that something wasn’t right, but it took my counselor part of a session to ask the right questions using the Beck Depression Inventory Test. I have had PTSD-related anxiety within the past several months and I sometimes experience panic attacks as a result. Part of my healing process means understanding the reasons for the anxiety, panic attacks, and depression; I am extremely proactive when it comes to my mental health and I look for ways to organically treat what’s going on with me because I don’t want to resort to medication for something that’s situational and not due to a chemical imbalance. While I believe there’s nothing wrong with taking medication when it’s needed, I implore anyone considering that sort of treatment to be very careful {read: find the RIGHT doctor ~ someone who sees medication as a temporary option, not a long-term one}. My daughter experienced seizures when she was on Wellbutrin and Seroquel; both she and Chris have experienced mental numbness while on Zoloft. I have firsthand knowledge of the extreme side effects of such medication and I urge anyone to use caution before going down that road. As far as I’m concerned, medication should be used only as a last resort.

As I’ve researched more about what it means to be introverted and empathetic, I’ve come to realize how important self-care really is. Learning about the differences in introverts and extroverts has liberated me in a sense because I always felt dismissed for being “shy” and “quiet”. I always wondered why the idea of going to a party or somewhere crowded filled me with extreme anxiety in the days before. I then started reading about the traits of an empath and, therefore, gained a better understanding about why I always feel so emotionally drained.

My depression inventory score wound up being 17 {17 – 20 being “borderline clinically depressed”}. Chris sat in on my session that day and said that he was surprised by some of my answers because what he sees is not what most people believe depression looks like. Chris and I talk about everything and I feel blessed that I have someone so caring to give me a soft, safe space while we figure things out. He explained how things look from where he is, I explained how things are for me; what I want people to understand is that depression is different for everyone. I don’t usually feel like I can’t get out of bed every morning, but sometimes, as the day goes on, I feel like all I can do is curl up on my bed and sleep when things get to be “too much”. Sleep is a necessary escape for me because it takes me away from the demands on my energy reserves {which I’m now fiercely protective of}. I have panic attacks when others don’t respect that my energy stores are empty and recognize that I have nothing more to give before I have to withdraw. Lately, I’ve felt completely unable to replenish my energy to a comfortable level and I now know that I must speak up and retreat when this happens. I’ve never been very good at taking “me-time” when I need it {due to my feeble ability to say “no” to people ~ guilt, guilt, guilt!} but I recognize this and know I need to do better. Again, Chris is great at helping me get the “me-time” I need by taking some of the pressure off.

When I wrote the caption on Flickr, I was thinking about the most accurate analogy of depression, based on the picture I took with the Snapchat filter. There are times when the gray completely takes over, but it’s a temporary thing. Most of the time, the color shows itself in a smile, laughter, or positivity, even if it’s just a bit. Will the depression go away? Of course. Will it come back? Most likely. Dealing with it is a learning process, but it also makes things more balanced; I appreciate the joys so much more as a result of those gray days.

The following is merely a list of suggestions to try, should you take the depression inventory test and score within the “depressed” range. The list is not intended to offer personal medical advice, diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provider for any advice on medications.

  • Don’t deal with depression alone. Talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling. Counseling helps me immensely and I have a vast support network of friends who are always there for me when I need a shoulder. Reach out for help. 7 Cups is a useful website for finding a listener or online therapist at a more reasonable cost than traditional therapy. If you want to talk to someone on the phone, The Samaritans have a free hotline available 24/7 at 1 (800) 273-TALK. Keep talking until you feel better.
  • Remember that there’s nothing to feel ashamed about if you’re depressed. Limit your contact with anyone who’s less than supportive or makes you feel like depression is your fault. It’s not your fault.
  • Keep a diary of your moods to help you pinpoint patterns and triggers. If {like me} you’re okay in the morning and feel more “blah” as the day goes on, it could be an energy thing which is easily remedied by self-care and some time to recharge your emotional batteries. You may discover that it’s a certain person or group of people who drain you. The sooner you figure out the problem, the sooner you can do something about it.
  • Listen to your body and do what’s necessary to take care of it. If you’re tired, sleep. If you need time to yourself, go somewhere that makes you happy.
  • Go to Church. God’s presence is a HUGE comfort, even if you just sit somewhere peaceful and talk to Him.
  • Watch a show or movie that makes you laugh. If you feel yourself frowning or feeling sad, think about something positive and happy to elicit a smile. It really does help.
  • Walk in the sunlight. A healthy dose of Vitamin D is a great way to lift your mood.
  • Get those endorphins going by doing some exercise. Endorphins help you feel better and the sense of accomplishment you feel, doing something good for your body and health is a big bonus.
  • Listen to your favorite music. Dance. Sing. All good stuff. Music that brings back good memories is especially good because it helps to remember happier times in your life.
  • Read an uplifting book or watch a feel-good movie. Escapism is a good way to get out of your head for a while.
  • Spend time with loved ones who understand and uplift you. It will help you to feel less alone and more loved, which is always a great thing.
  • Become immersed in a hobby that you enjoy, even if you don’t feel like it. The sense of accomplishment is always uplifting to the spirit.
  • Help others by paying it forward. Just being responsible for someone else’s happiness makes us feel better.
  • Remember that whatever you’re feeling shall pass. You will laugh again…and you will appreciate the laughter much more because of your experience with depression.

If you have any questions about anything in this post, please get in touch. I will help as much as I can. You’re not alone in how you feel. In your grayest of days, look for your beautiful colors! They’re there!

Until next time…

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2 thoughts on “Depression: How To Find the Color Within the Grays

  1. Thank you so much Shunya! We’re so pleased you dropped in and followed us. I hope you will continue to visit.

    I’m glad you found my post relatable and hope it helps you to know you’re not alone. Depression is not an easy thing to cope with but it is manageable with the right support network and tools.

    If you ever need to chat, I’m here to help. A big part of why I write is to connect with others who may be in a similar situation and share the resources that have helped me {and help find more resources if necessary}.

    Take care and let us know if you need anything else. {hug} 🙂

    Carol

    Like

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