Everyone has those days where you go to bed tired and wake up feeling less than well-rested. Stress can often prevent us from having a good night’s sleep, as well as an overthinking brain or outside factors. Most of us can get through those long, sleepy days because we know they won’t last forever. For some, they can get through the day because their tired brains will surely allow them to sleep soundly next time.
Now, instead, imagine that your brain is sick. Instead, imagine everyday is a cycle of falling asleep tired and waking up exhausted. Imagine not feeling that relief of knowing the next night could be better. Living with depression feels a lot like that, and it affects more people than you may think.
A Day in the Life of Someone Living with Depression
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), more than six million men and twelve million women experience depression.
Most of us are familiar with the textbook symptoms of depression:
- suicidal thoughts
- loss of interest in daily activities
- fluctuating weight
However, it would be a disservice to assume anyone lives their life as black-and-white as a textbook reading of his/her/their symptoms. We are individuals, and as individuals our experiences vary from one another. It’s no different for those battling depression. The disease doesn’t look the same for everyone, so why should the everyday life, or the path to healing, be assumed to be the same?
Living with depression is an everyday fight, though it seems that depressive states occur in waves. For Sasha Perigo—who wrote an article about her experience with depression for Medium—the depression state can feel permanent. “Like the frog boiling alive, I slip into a depressive state slowly. I don’t notice small changes in my mood, appetite, or energy levels.
Once things have gotten bad enough that my symptoms cause ‘significant impairment in my daily life’ I can usually recognize intellectually that I’ve entered a depressive state. I’m cognizant of some of my symptoms, but I chalk others up to personal failures rather than illness. It’s only days like today—when I ‘snap out of it’—that I regain mental clarity about the symptoms I’ve been experiencing.”
To cope, some have developed small ways to combat the feeling—or lack thereof—that depression leaves. Charles Binova, a poet who has been living with depression since he was nineteen, spoke with Denise Mann in an article written for EveryDayHealth about what his daily life looks like. He writes that he often wakes up feeling overwhelmed. For him, something that helps is taking his medications and beginning the day by preparing a meal for both his partner and himself.
“Cooking my food does a lot to improve my mood and keep me focused. I love the scents of oregano, basil, garlic, and onion. They have a powerful effect on me as far as my mood goes.”
Binova also utilizes therapy light boxes and lavender incense. He’s recognized problem areas in his day-to-day life—like the shadowy corners in his house that the light therapy box prevents, and the late night anxiety that the lavender incense combats—and has taken measures to make daily life better.
This isn’t an article telling you how to live your life if you’re one of many battling depression, nor is it a self-help guide to say Binova’s methods are a sure-fire way to feel better.
This article is simply to say you are not alone, and it does get better. It’s all about recognizing problem areas in your life and addressing them appropriately, until those long, sleepy days don’t feel so common. Perhaps now you wake up feeling like there’s a storm cloud over your head. The wind and lightning won’t let you sleep. Share the thunder, friend. The clouds will part.