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We experience a lot of different thoughts, feelings, and emotions in the midst of a depressive episode. Depression makes us feel badly about ourselves, worthless and ugly. Depression makes us view things unrealistically, like nothing good ever happens, like we don’t deserve happiness in our lives. Depression makes us feel emotions that we don’t deserve to feel, extreme sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness. But one intense feeling that depression causes us to feel, that we don’t often have the words to explain, is desperation.
If you suffer from depression, you know what it feels like to lay in bed and stare at the ceiling, silently asking the universe, “Why me?” You know what it feels like to sit at the table with food in front of you, no appetite, knowing you should feel hungry. You know what it feels like to sit counting the days until your next appointment with your doctor because there wasn’t anything available sooner. These situations all leave us feeling desperate, and when one or more of them occur simultaneously, it becomes overwhelming, and our feeling of desperation grows.
Desperation is the feeling that a situation is so bad that no matter what you do, it will never get better. Depression is an expert at making us feel like we are in such bad shape that we can’t be fixed. Depression is good at convincing us that there is no help available to us, and leaves us feeling desperate. The important thing to realize is that depression is a liar, and that the desperation we feel is not to be trusted.
Depression makes us feel desperate by cutting us off from help. Our friends and family could be in the same room with us, and yet we feel alone. We know we have an appointment with our psychiatrist coming up, but the fact that it isn’t as soon as possible makes us feel desperate. The truth is that help is right in front of us in many forms: friends and family, our doctor, our therapist, even our preferred methods of coping. Depression clouds our minds with negativity and makes us forget that help is available, makes us lose sight of the things that help us cope. Without being able to recall the help that’s out there, depression makes us feel as if there is no hope, makes us believe that we can’t get better.
One way to combat the unsavory feeling of desperation is to have a plan in place before depression hits. Inform those in your support system that you need extra attention during a depressive episode, and let them know what kind of attention you may need. Whether it be a simple daily phone call, some help with household chores, or just someone to sit with you quietly, tell your friends and family how they can help you deal with feelings of desperation during a depressive episode.
Another way to combat the desperation caused by depression is to schedule regular appointments with your doctor, just in case. If your monthly appointment falls during a depressive episode, you won’t find yourself counting the days until your next appointment. Regular weekly or monthly appointments, may not only help you through a depressive episode, but may help to prevent the next one from occurring. Having regular appointments with your doctor or therapist marked on your calendar may also give you peace of mind, and reassure you when depression hits.
Coping effectively through a depressive episode can be difficult, but it is possible. You can keep your coping skills fresh in your mind, even when you’re depressed by leaving little notes around the house as reminders to yourself. For example, place a note on the mirror in your bathroom to wash your face, or place a note on your computer screen reminding you to journal your negative thoughts. Program reminders in your phone to exercise, eat healthy meals, and get to bed at a decent hour. Keeping your coping skills at your fingertips can help combat those feelings of desperation.
It’s not fair how depression makes us feel during an episode. No one deserves to feel lifeless, worthless, helpless, and hopelessly sad. We especially don’t deserve to feel like no help is forthcoming, and we don’t deserve to feel desperate when we already feel badly already. Though some days we may lie in bed and give in to that feeling, other days we have to be ready to fight it in order to function. That’s where a support system, regular doctor and therapy appointments, and therapy itself come in. Combating the feeling of desperation brought on by a depressive episode is possible, and there is no reason why, when we are depressed, we should also feel desperate for help. Help is always there; we just have to use our resources to remind ourselves of that.
Madelyn Heslet is a 24-year-old single mother who writes about mental illness to advocate for mental health and do her part to end the stigma that surrounds it. She not only lives as a writer, but as a loving mother and dedicated full-time student. She contributes a weekly column to Painted Brain News