A few months back, I was asked to fill out a questionnaire about living with depression. It took me a while to get to it and by the time I did, I was too late to submit it. I figured since I took the time to fill it out, I might as well publish it as a blog. So, without further ado, a depression questionnaire blog!
1) How long have you had depression?
Looking back, I have had depression my entire life; I just didn’t know it. I thought I was lazy, physically sick, or just really tired. I pretty much thought it was anything but depression.
I didn’t understand what “medical depression” was, so it didn’t make sense to me. I understood sadness, but what I was experiencing was deeper than sadness.
Once I learned what depression was, it became obvious that was what was going on. It wouldn’t be until my mid-20s that I would really learn about mental illness – including depression.
2) Does depression or other mental illness run in your family?
Not really. I’m special that way. ?
While it is fortunate that other members of my family do not suffer from depression, it did lead to my suffering not being noticed. My family didn’t get me the help I desperately needed because they were unaware I needed help.
3) What are your symptoms?
I have bipolar and anxiety, my symptoms range from feeling worthless, suicidal, and hopeless all the way to feeling god-like, invincible, and indestructible. It is a whiplash effect. The depression feels physically heavy and exhausting. All my limbs weigh 50,000 pounds. Accomplishing anything is impossible. I wrestle my own mind and my body feels like heavy spaghetti.
4) Do you feel friends and family understand?
Everyone in my life now does understand, for the most part. The friends who didn’t understand left. It hurt, but they didn’t want to be around me when I was sick.
Overall, my family is pretty supportive. They, to this day, ask a lot of stupid questions, but that is okay. Asking a question means they want to understand and asking me means they want to understand FROM ME. So that has a lot of value. They are past the point of assuming they understand and we have created an open dialogue.
Creating an open dialogue was as much on me as it was on them. If I got angry with them every time they asked something that hurt my feelings, they would naturally stop asking. In the beginning, the conversations were uncomfortable. However, we must have uncomfortable conversations. They could not read my mind.
5) Have you ever been suicidal?
Yes. I was hospitalized because I had a suicide plan and was hours away from enacting it. I was lucky that someone intervened and got me the help I was unaware I needed.
6) Please describe your very worst bout of depression and how long it lasted.
The very worst was when I was planning my suicide. I just couldn’t manage any more. The pressure, the physical pain, the mental pain, and my brain constantly showing me that no one cared about or loved me.
I couldn’t stand it anymore. Every second of every day, I was being assaulted by my own mind. There was no escape. No way to shut off the darkness. Every feeling I had was horrible. I didn’t feel joy, I didn’t feel pain; I felt intense loneliness and hopelessness.
It is the closest I have ever come to truly “experiencing” nothing.
7) What makes your depression better? Worse?
Time, more than anything makes it better. The love of people around me. Sometimes I just want a hug or an acknowledgment that I have value.
As far as worse? It feels like everything makes depression worse while in the moment.
I do want to say, first and foremost, that medicine and therapy have really helped me prevent depression. That’s not to say I never experience it now, but it’s not as bad as it was before I got help.
8) What is the biggest thing about depression that you would tell the world if you could?
It is somewhat sad to say that the biggest thing I would tell the world is that it is real. It is an illness. It sounds like a stupid thing to say, but it isn’t. Many people think it is fake, including many who suffer from it.
People who don’t take mental illness seriously are going to suffer needlessly, whether that person has depression or they are unable to help someone they care about. Standing outside and pretending it isn’t raining doesn’t prevent a person from getting wet.
9) Have you isolated yourself very long periods?
I am a very social person. I LOVE PEOPLE. I don’t like to be alone for more than a couple hours a day. I like to hear people while I am working. I like to people watch. If I go an entire day without interacting with people, that is a huge amount of time.
My grandfather, who has no mental illness, has gone 3-4 days without talking to another person. Because he likes it that way. So, people are different.
But for me, going a day without people is an eternity.