In spite of the media trying to paint mental health in a positive light over the last few years, in one way it has trivialized the atrocity of depression.
There’s no doubt it has been a godsend for raising the awareness on how depression can blight your life.
The downside is that it seems to have ‘normalized’ the manner in which we journalists discuss depression rather like the way we discuss sexual inappropriateness i.e. it happens all the time so acknowledge it and crack on.
This acceptance of depression as a community issue is a great leap towards integrating mental health into our daily conversation but it’s important to remember that for some people, suffering from depression can be a day-to-day life and death existence.
When Is Depression Fake? And When Is It Real?
When you hear a friend claim “Ugh, I’m so depressed!” while they finish their skinny latte and turn back to Instagram, you could argue that they were being fake.
For those of us who have suffered from severe depression, you know what I’m talking about when I say that saying the words “I’m depressed” out loud when what you probably mean is you’re having a bad day is not an option.
Those of us who have almost died because of feeling so depressed, using the word depression as a replacement for “not getting what I want” would also be fake.
You may find this article helpful when going to see your doctor about the depression: Does Your Doctor Understand What Depression Is? Might Be Easier to Explain What Depression ISN’T
Is My Depression Fake? See If You Relate To Any Of These Stories
Anyone who’s suffered from depression has at one time asked themselves ‘Am I really depressed or am I faking it?
Here are some descriptions of what depression feels like as told to me by some of my coaching clients.
My depression is at a level now that I feel . . . lifeless; probably that’s the best way to describe it. I have no energy, feel numb and as if I’m in a dream every day. I hate myself for being like this. I feel a lot of pain (not physical, well, not always) even with just thinking. It’s all I do. Think about the past . . . I don’t enjoy life. I never have. Happiness is another thing I don’t understand. It’s foreign to me. I feel like an empty shell. No emotion any more. The only feeling is pain. I see no way forward. Mike
I feel like the most hated person in the world at the moment, my self-esteem is at an all time low. I often felt that if I weren’t here nobody would be bothered. I am very tearful and have been in the supermarket doing my weekly shop and nearly burst into tears. I am a very nervous person and lack confidence. I am praying that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel, I hate the feeling that everyone hates me at work. I’m thinking of looking for another job so I don’t have to go back and face anyone. Sharon
I feel so messed up! I feel like I’m trapped in a bubble, I feel so lonely, tearful and don’t want to face anyone. When my families were around I had to act as normal as I could as I didn’t want to put any worries on them. I have to walk out of the room and weep as I don’t want them worrying. Richard
I have suffered from very bad mood swings all my life but now they are taking over. One day I will be in the best mood ever and want to do erratic things like work abroad and the next I am so down I think about suicide. I am pushing my family away but not intentionally. It’s got to a point where my own mum is afraid to talk to me because she doesn’t know how I will react, whether I will be nice or completely flip out. Deborah
I am petrified to speak to a doctor. How are you supposed to tell them you don’t know what’s wrong with you? I feel embarrassed. I have huge barriers up against everyone. People think I am a lovely bubbly person but a smile can hide everything. Vicky
Depression is more than feeling sad or having a bad day. It’s when the lifeblood of your soul has been destroyed. For many of us, we use the word depression loosely just as a way to simply herd everything into one box.
Here's an article that may shed light on how depression is actually diagnosed: How Is Depression Diagnosed?
Is Depression Fake When You Struggle With Extreme And Painful Life Issues? Yes Because It’s Not Technically Depression. But Sometimes It’s The Only Way To Collectively Say How You Feel
There have been times when I’ve felt fake talking about depression. The problem I’ve always faced is trying to convey to other people exactly how I feel. Shame is the one thing that stopped me from doing that.
Shame - feeling bad for who we are as opposed to guilt, which is when we feel bad for something we’ve done - is the driver of depression.
Because of its very nature, shame makes us feel too bad to get help because we think either no one will care or we’re not worth it.
It’s only in hindsight that I can describe how I was just before I started on the road to recovery. I didn’t have the vocabulary then:
In spite of my successes I was lonely and full of fear and self-doubt.
I looked around and I saw others who appeared to be enjoying their life. I seem out of the loop.
I felt isolated with my discontentment and lonely because I seem to be the only one.
On the outside I seemed confident but I carried a chronic belief I was fraudulent.
I was an underachiever and struggle to maintain a job, career path and failed to exploit my unique talents.
My self-harm and self-hate led me down a path of hardship from which I found impossible to escape.
At times I indulged in drugs, alcohol or food, gambling, work and sought sex as a comfort.
I participated in other unhelpful behaviour like hyper-criticism, perfectionism, hypochondria, creating drama, shutting down or shutting others out.
I had become severely co-dependent, in other words, had an excessive reliance on other people for my own approval and identity.
As a result my relationships with other people were guided by my fear of being abandoned.
This resulted in me playing out my destructive roles as I try to ‘fix’ myself through loveless relationships.
The fear drove me to make decisions that sabotaged my chance of happiness.
I felt overly responsible for others’ feelings and I was concerned more about them than myself.
Dealing with these issues left me feeling isolated because I thought I was the only one. I made a decision to simply collect all my problems together and call them ‘depression’. It seemed the easiest and closest word to what I was struggling with even though feeling depressed was only one part of it.
“Is depression fake?” is a question that I get asked a lot but struggle to answer. I hope this goes some way to doing that.