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    StayPositive
    Participant

    Hi all,

    As someone in my late 20s who has struggled from depression for most of my life, it is shocking to me how well hidden I have been able to keep it over the years, especially in the years before I started going for treatment. I was 15 when I started suffering from depression, and while there was nothing traumatic that triggered it that would’ve caught somebody’s eye, in a span of just a few weeks I went from very happy to very depressed. There were several contributing factors as to why that was, but the point is not one person noticed that anything in me changed. I was fully aware that I was depressed and that I needed professional help but for whatever reason I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone. Maybe because of the stigma of it and the fact that people thought highly of me and I somehow viewed depression as a weakness or a fault, or maybe it was for some other reason, but as deeply as I was suffering day after day, I just couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone. And this was for 4 years…

    I’ve thought quite a bit over the years how I was able to hide for so long. As anyone who has ever suffered from depression knows, a single day in that darkness feels like an eternity, and when the days turn to weeks and to months and to years it is almost unfathomable. So how was it then that not a single person noticed that anything was wrong or off with me in the entire 4 years? Not my parents, siblings, friends, rebbeim, teachers – no one. You can say it is because I tried so hard to keep it hidden and maintain my high grades and success in school, and because I perfected that all painful fake smile to mask my true pain and despair, but none of that seems to adequately answer the question.

    Do people not see what they don’t want to see? Is depression something so foreign to those who have not suffered from it that they fail to catch even a glimpse of it in others who are suffering so deeply?

     

     

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    Dr. Joanne Royer
    Participant

    @StayPositive so glad you posted this. Keeping the reigns on feelings and pretending is emotionally exhausting! It sounds as though you are ready to embrace Depression and start unraveling it. But your question about people seeing or not?  Sometimes we would rather not see what is staring us in the face because we may just see parts of ourselves in another person. And add a dash of helplessness in not knowing the “how to’s” to help someone we love, when we see suffering/pain. Then we usually stay silent. Takes a lot of courage to bring up an issue or a thought or a feeling that isn’t popular to speak about.  My feeling is 90% of our population is challenged with some variation, or shade or degree or depression. You are taking charge and taking control, owning what you have been challenged with and moving forward through it – congratulations!!

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    Red4
    Participant

    Hi,

    To answer your question, no people often cannot see what is in front of them. They don’t want to. I have discussed my anorexia with my mother and she has said outright that she had no idea what I was going through. It’s at that point that you realize the change has to start with you, which is most difficult, particularly with depression (well done for that, by the way). I remember feeling split, a part of me keeping face, helping others, being a good student (I was in high school); at the same time I was desperate for someone to notice the little hints I was dropping both consciously and unconsciously.

    On the other hand, sometimes people do notice, but to acknowledge is a step most people are not willing to take because of what may follow. My trauma professor keeps asking why movements (such as with veterans or the current atmosphere in Hollywood) come and go in waves. My answer is that sometimes people are brave enough to take a step toward accepting that there are problems and that we need to fix them, but then they realize how difficult the work is, how exhaustive it is to keep the momentum going, and so it fades. It’s sad to realize that the easier path is to convince oneself that the signs aren’t/weren’t there, because if we live in a “Just World,” then there are no problems and no need to put in effort to change these non-existent problems.

    Finally, specifically regarding depression, not everyone is aware of the symptoms, especially when you do put on a brave face and it appears more subtly. It’s up to us to educate the world and hopefully change lives for the better.

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    Chany
    Participant

    Hey. interesting discussion. Staypositive thanks for sharing and kudos to you for getting the help you needed. I have to agree with both joanne and red4 regarding why people haven’t noticed or even if they noticed chose to turn a blind eye consciously or subconsciously. i think its unfortunate that we live in a world where everything is always ok. People say hi how are you and walk on by without waiting for a response. Why? because they know the response will be I’m good thank god even though they may have just been diagnosed with cancer or their marriage is unraveling or whatever else is going one to various degrees. I don’t think people haven’t noticed your depression because they didn’t care. i think generally people care and want to be there for others but things get in the way. Namely, they are dealing with their own issues and have no room to see beyond that. Second, they fear they will say or do the wrong thing so choose no action at all. and third, sometimes they are simply ignorant in this way and whether the ignorance is bliss or not its definitely simpler than facing the real issues.

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    0212
    Participant

    Do people not see what they don’t want to see? Is depression something so foreign to those who have not suffered from it that they fail to catch even a glimpse of it in others who are suffering so deeply?

    Hi! First off, how’s your depression now? Depression was not something that I noticed in others until I went through depression myself. Now I pick up on it very quickly.  It’s interesting, but often, people really don’t see things that are right in front of them. I had a study partner for months, he was a psychologist & I was convinced that he knew that I was depressed. Some time later, when I went to him because I needed a good shrink (he was really good), I asked him if he had any clue that I was depressed and his response was “No, I had no idea”.

    Once, I asked a good friend of mine (who had also suffered from mental illness), “Why? Why would God do this to me? There’s just no benefit, nothing good comes from depression.” His response was that I’d pull through just like he did, and the tools that I’d learn and the strength that I’d build would give me many opportunities to help others who are going through similar challenges. Over the past few years I’ve seen his prediction come through many times over.

    he point of the above anecdote was just to bring out how different things are from before I had depression to after.  After I dealt with depression, I had the tools to help others. People who are unfamiliar with depression and want to help will just say  “c’mon, get over it! You can do it, just believe in yourself!”.  So to answer your question: “Is depression something so foreign to those who have not suffered from it that they fail to catch even a glimpse of it in others who are suffering so deeply?”, I think the answer simply is yes! Depression is too foreign to those haven’t suffered it and therefore they can’t understand the pain.

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    Chany
    Participant

    @0210 wow thanks for sharing. I so appreciated the simplicity and clarity of your response. Sometimes people are in so much they cant believe someone else doesn’t ‘see’ what they’re going through. Also, although ppl assume it presents with a slouched body and down look, thats not always the case at all. Often times ppl suffering appear high functioning to the naked eye although they feel like they’re dying inside.

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