When I say someone is DEPRESSED, what comes to mind?
How about: Gloomy unshowered schmuck. Stuck and unmotivated. Unable to work. A drag to be around. Broken. Victim. Complainer. Crying all the time. Never leaving the house.
That’s the stereotype, isn’t it? But there’s some truth there.
10 Signs of Walking Depression
Walking depression can be hard to recognize because it doesn’t fit the stereotype. But it’s just as dangerous to our well-being when left unacknowledged.
This list isn’t meant to be an exhaustive diagnostic. But these are some of the signs observed:
Nothing is fun. You root around for something to look forward to and come up empty.
You can’t find flow. Working on your creative projects feels like a grind, but you keep plodding away.
Your energy is low. Maybe you’re not getting enough rest because you’re too anxious to sleep, or you’re trying to cram too many tasks into a day, or you’re punishing yourself by staying up. Whatever the reason, you are effin’ tired.
You feel worse in the morning and better at night. I remember explaining this to a friend, who found it mystifying. In the morning I felt the crushing weight of all the things I had to do that day. In the evening I was temporarily free from expectations and could enjoy a moment’s respite.
You have simmering resentment toward the people you’re helping. Sure, you’re still doing what everybody asks of you, but you stew in anger the whole time.
Your self-talk gets caustic. You say nasty things in an effort to shock yourself into action. You use shame as a motivator.
You feel distanced from people around you. It’s hard to have genuine, intimate conversations because you have to keep up this front that you are alright.
You deprive yourself of creative work time. This helps you exert some control and stirs up feelings of suffering that are perversely pleasurable. Also, taking on new projects that prevent you from writing or making art lets you prove to yourself that you’re still strong and capable.
You notice a significant mood change when you have caffeine or alcohol. A cup of coffee might make you feel a lot more revved-up and optimistic. A glass of wine might make you feel really mellow and even ~ gasp! ~ happy.
You feel like you’re wasting your life. Strong-willed creatives have a high sensitivity to the inherent meaning in what we do.If our daily activities don’t carry enough significance ~ if they don’t feel like a worthwhile use of our talents and passions ~ then soon we are asking ourselves, “What’s the point? Why should I keep going?”
Why is it hard to admit that you have walking depression?
You may recognize many of these signs in your life but still be slow to admit that you are depressed. Why is that?
Because it feels presumptuous to put yourself in that category when you’re still getting by. You feel like it would be insulting to those who are much worse off than you.
Because your pride and your identity take a hit. You have to admit vulnerability and allow that you are not the all-conquering superperson you thought you were.
Because you realize that you and your life need to change, which feels like more work piled on your plate.
Because you are admitting your own responsibility for your unhappiness and that can trigger self-judgment.
Because you might uncover grief or anger at those around you for not seeing and taking better care of you.
What to do, what to do?
- Make use of medication and other physical treatments.
- Do talk therapy.
- Practice gratitude.
- Make connections.
- Reduce your responsibilities.