Kitchener therapists strong discuss what it means when loved ones say “I am depressed”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that close to 300 million people worldwide struggle with depression disorder. Since the onset of Covid-19, the depression rates in North America specifically have shot up. According to the NHIS, prior to the pandemic, from January to June 2019, 1 in 10 adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. This has increased dramatically during the pandemic, where it is now reported that 4 in 10 adults are struggling with these same symptoms.

The stats and figures around depression are important to take note of, because they draw attention to the severity of this mental illness. But what is it really like to live with depression? 

Our COCA Psychotherapy Kitchener Therapists believe that we should all seek to develop a deeper understanding of this condition. A better understanding can help us to empathise with those exhibiting depressive behaviours, to better equip ourselves to provide support towards loved ones struggling with depression and encourage them to seek depression counselling, as well as to possibly pick up early signs of depression if it happens to creep into our own lives. 

We have included two diary entries below from a young adult who has been grappling with depression for several years, and who subsequently sought depression counselling. The purpose of including these entries is to offer first-hand insight into the day-to-day struggle of someone living with depression, and the thoughts that circulate in their brain that elicit strong negative emotions. 

The below may be difficult to read and is not recommended for sensitive readers.

I want to be alone.

I don’t know what that means, or whether it’s the whole truth – but I crave the solitude that denies anyone else a chance to make me feel guilt. I can’t fully explain what brought on my desire for loneliness, but perhaps it’s that with everything that is so fickle around me, I know how to appear strong on my own. Or at least, I know I won’t be taking anyone else down with me as my world tumbles further into a monochromatic blur of confusion, fallacious ‘I love you’s’, and fake personalities.

As the days creep on, I’m becoming increasingly aware of my negative effect on people. I watch my partner’s disappointment in me grow by the hour, my mother’s sadness deepen with every visibly depressing face I can’t hide, my siblings as they make an effort to bring out the best in me, and my friends who have just given up on me altogether. I understand this removal of negative people, but maybe if they really knew me, or really cared, they would know that I have several redeemable qualities that can add some value to their lives. Maybe. I don’t know anymore. My positive traits seem to be buried beneath so many disappointments and angry feelings, and are pushed down with the increasing guilt and lack of self-confidence, that I’m not even sure they are still there.

Anyone who could still love me after my explosive episodes of unforgiving and unjustified rage, frustration, anger, and depression must be in the category of saint. I have never felt more undeserving of love in my life. 

I have been trying to figure out the best way to end this.

Do I:

  1. Drown myself – they say it’s very peaceful (but how would ‘they’ know)
  2. Take a ridiculous number of sleeping pills (I like the sound of this one – drifting into an endless sleep…but what happens if it is just a terrible nightmare I can never wake up from)
  3. Strangling myself – this one seems tough to do…I experimented with it a bit, but the actual situation is incredibly stressful. I feel like my own rape victim.
  4. Slit my wrists and bleed out…not a fan

Basically, I am aware that the reason I actually don’t go through with any of them is because I have no idea what to expect once I achieve my goal – obviously – but still, the unknown is more scary than escaping this world that I am no longer fit to survive in. I say fit to survive in, because I feel like I am dying every day of my life. Yes, in reality, this may be true. But most people just call that living.

For me, the day-to-day equates to death. Either I am so numb that I cannot feel it, or I am so

painfully sad that I feel it ALL. There is a middle ground, where I experience episodes of anger that one would never know could escape from my body; but then again, they also probably don’t know that every night, after I have wished away the hours of the day, I fantasize over my death and the end of this painful existence.

I wonder: What does the other side hold for me? I know for a fact – if there is such a thing as heaven – that I will not crack the nod to that celebration. And if there is a hell, I imagine that is where I will be spending my days. A scary thought, but I feel like I should face the reality of ‘THE END’ if it’s something I am considering.

The most important thing to take away from the diary entries above, is that depression is not a choice. Often depression develops as a result of trauma, hormonal imbalances, genetics and many more possible causes that subsequently result in depressive symptoms. Common thoughts, feelings and physical manifestations of depression disorder include:

  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, or irritability even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

When someone who is close to us exhibits some or all of these behaviours, it can be hard to know how to help. Watching them suffer is almost unbearable. Of course there are a number of practical ways to be supportive, but emotional support can go a long way! 

Sometimes the problem is that we might be worried or scared of saying the wrong thing. We may even fear that we are not qualified to offer emotional support, but the fact is that we don’t need a qualification to listen. That being said, there are certainly cases where certified counsellors who have years of experience can have a significant impact.

COCA Psychotherapy’s Kitchener psychology centre

When it comes to depression counselling, COCA’s Kitchener therapists make use of a number of methods depending on the requirements of the patient. A commonly used method is Satir Transformational Systemic Therapy (STST), also known as the Satir method. Put simply, STST uses techniques such as role play, guided contemplation, and family sculpting to address a person’s dynamic within their family unit. The theory is that learning more about our family history and how it impacts our current coping strategies can be helpful to learn how to break negative behaviour patterns or ways of thinking. 

We cannot emphasise enough how important it is to seek help from licensed counsellors, especially during the current uncertain times we find ourselves in. Becoming more aware of how we cope under stress and how we relate to others as a result can impact how we heal.
Are you experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above or have a loved one who is struggling with depression? Please don’t hesitate to contact us here to book an appointment or give us a call on 226-336-5787 for a free consultation over the phone.

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