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What Is Depression?

Some Thoughts

What is depression? I think that is a question that no one can truly answer. Depression is subjective, it takes many forms, has various reasons for rearing its ugly head, and it's accompanied with this never-ending feeling that it is consuming us whole. If you want to get technical and scientific about it, well, it has been linked to imbalances in neurotransmitter serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. We aren’t here to talk about the science of it, however…

Google what is depression and you will come across phrases like “feelings of severe despondency and dejection” or “a mental condition characterized by feelings of severe despondency and dejection, typically also with feelings of inadequacy and guilt…”

Is this really what depression is though? I truly believe that no one can label what your depression is—obviously, something that is a given, however, is that you will be feeling sad. Sadness, now that's another funny thing (pardon the irony). What I mean is sadness can show itself to us and others in many ways: Fake smiles, tears, isolating yourself, or maybe no external signs are shown, it’s simply internal. Internal here is the keyword.

Depression is internal, it comes from you and only you. Now hold on, hold on, let me explain. An external factor has caused this drop in your mood, correct? A breakup, a lost friend, financial struggle, etc. As I said, however, the key here is you, you chose to react this way to this external stimuli; that's not a bad thing at all, that's just you being human. The sooner you can see this and realise what I've just said to be true. that's the first step.

I remember for years seeing my depression as something that I couldn't control. It was part of my personality, something I had to just accept. That's so far from the truth. The moment it clicks for you that you are in control of your depression, because your depression is yours and it is controlled by you, then you are in the position of power.

See your depression as a heavy, ugly jacket that is laying over your back; it holds you back, makes you tired from carrying it around, and you cancel plans because you don't want your friends and loved ones to see this jacket. Now, if this was a literal jacket, what would you do? You would remove it, right? If something is causing you that much discomfort then we would take charge, so why is this any different with mental health?

Obviously, I'm not saying that getting rid of/combatting depression is as simple as removing an item of clothing, but bare with me here. We have established that our depression is our own (it's a subconscious and natural reaction to something negative in our lives), so if it's our own then we can control it. If our minds can conjure up such negative emotion and let it control our lives then they can also create positivity and a motive to look forward. I'm not going to sit here and type that it's easy, or be cheesy and say you can do it, it'll pass, because it's not easy and it's something that even I am still working on. It's so much easier to feel sad because it's addictive. It's like a drug.

It's so much easier to sit in bed and cry, just cry and cry until you have no tears left to cry. It's so much easier to play the victim, to feel sad and wallow in the sad. I've done it and I'm not going to be some sort of martyr and say I haven't. It's addictive. I can't even fathom how many hours I have sat in the past listening to depressing songs, staying in bed and crying until I passed out. Thing is, it helped for a few seconds, maybe even minutes, but it's not healing.

Yes, it's important to cry, let your emotions go, but once you've stopped crying, let it stay gone. There needs to be a point where you can stand there and say no to yourself and take control of your depression. I think this can be considered a skill; it gets better the more you practise it, it gets better with time.

Time is long, time goes slow, but time helps you learn and heal, and when it comes to depression, time is your best friend.

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What Is Depression?
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