Secretly Sad…

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At some point, I was happy; I had moments of joy. And then, one molecule at a time, the happiness went away.

Sometimes I feel like the loss began in childhood, and my well-being disappeared so gradually that I hardly noticed. Sometimes, I feel like sadness comes on like a sudden fog after months of stress. Either way, dealing with daily life is like driving a car with a dirty windshield. It’s tolerable, I cope. Pleasure? That consists of not feeling really bad, interspersed with a few moments of genuine laughter and fun—which, over the years, has grown increasingly rare. If someone asks me, “Are you happy?” I don’t think I’d know what to say.

Chronic low grade depression can feel so familiar that you don’t even know you’ve got it. But it’s rampant among women and sadly underdiagnosed.
Low grade depression is one of the most common ailments on the planet and one of the least likely to be diagnosed. Simmilar to clinical depression, low grade depression hits women roughly twice as often as men. Although some researchers believe mood disorders in men are underreported because of social stigmas.

Clinical depression is a kind of mental hurricane: Symptoms include debilitating insomnia, weight loss, anxiety or a mental fog so dense that people forget what they’ve read as soon as they’ve read it. The pain is so intense that suicide can seem like the only solution.

Low grade depression is more like a year of drizzly weather. It is, by definition, chronic. In order to diagnose low grade depression,  it’s required that the presence of symptoms appears on more days than not for a period of at least two years, which is what makes it so hard to pin down. Any day might be okay, you may even feel happy. Yet in the general run of days, there are more gray ones than not, more unhappiness than joy. Most people afflicted with this kind of chronic malaise instinctively blame themselves: They would rather believe they can solve the problem if they could just find the right job or the right man or lose weight. Anything other than admit they have a psychiatric disorder.
Don’t getme wrong I’m not saying that the problems a depressed person fixates on don’t exist. A healthy person however,  might take action, or simply look around for a fun distraction. A person with low grade depression broods and gets stuck. Caught in that drizzly mental weather. Sadly fewer than half the people with clinical depression ever seek medical advice, fewer than that get appropriate help, and people with low grade depression fare worst of all. They think, “Hey, nobody said life is easy. If I’m still showing up at work, I must be okay.”

Yet the damage chronic low grade depression inflicts can be even more devastating than a single episode of severe clinical depression.

My psychiatrist told me that someone with an acute major depressive episode is much more likely to get help because there’s an obvious change. But low grade depression however causes a bigger impairment to the patient’s overall functioning in their work and social lives because it goes on for so long. These sd-!X fcccccccc MN m go unrecognized, even by health care professionals.

Depression is a complicated illness that is usually caused by a combination of external stressors and biological triggers. A family history of depression is often a strong indicator.

I had such a hard time getting the courage I needed to seek help.  Being Latina didn’t help.  In my culture people think that you don’t see a psychiatrist unless you’re crazy.  And depression… well its seen as an excuse.  An excuse the person uses as to why they haven’t been able to do housework,  eat,  work etc. People in my culture believe that is just laziness. 

I am currently on medication, but I am scared…scared that I may not be able to live without medication.  Scared that I may never be truly happy again.

Symptoms of low grade depression:

1) You feel sad, dissatisfied or pessimistic most of the time, although you still have days when you feel normal.
2) Your appetite changes.
3) You’re tired most of the time.
4) You have insomnia or you’re sleeping too much.
5) You’re harder on yourself than you should be.
6) You’re not working at your peak, and you’re having trouble concentrating.
7) Simple decisions somehow take forever.
8) You feel that every day is more or less a struggle.

If you have at least two symptoms. Especially the first one, see your doctor for a checkup, and if you’re physically healthy, ask for a referral to a mental health professional. If you have five or more symptoms and are also experiencing anxiety, feelings of helplessness and loss of interest in sex, your depression may be more serious. Seek medical help immediately.

Before getting help I was secretly sad… Are you?

2 Comments

  1. Sandra Beeman

    Taking medication for life with am emotional or physical ailment is in no way indicative of an unworthy or “lazy”person. It is the stronger person whom seeks help when necessary. People do feel better and do not owe anyone an explanation.

    Reply
    1. Silvie (Post author)

      Sandra, Thank you for your words. I totally agree.

      Reply

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