The session started with a causal greeting exchange and she sat hesitantly on the chair slouched forward. She looked down and did not know what to say to the therapist sitting on the chair in front of her. After a few moments of awkwardness she introduced herself in one sentence and tried to fake a smile.
The therapist briefed her about the session and she felt an urgent need to rush out of the room. But somehow she managed to sit through the session. It was an arduous task to explain to the therapist about how she had been feeling for the past few months. Days had elapsed lying on the bed watching the blank ceiling. Hunger was a chore that she could no longer relate to. There wasn’t any particular reason she could point her finger to that could explain her feeling this way. It was a hollow feeling that clinged to her like a soft toy glued to a child’s chest. Anxiety, isolation, restlessness and a constant sense of helplessness consumed the little energy she had to pull through the day.
The burden seemed so heavy to carry that instead of sharing her state with anyone, she chose to wear masks for every occasion. Pretending happiness, relief and other emotions was a trick that came handy in managing events in her life. No cogent reasoning so far had been able to bring her life back to normal. Burrowed in the extended period of darkness, she had lost touch with time and space in which she existed. She had refrained from attending to the thoughts of self-loathing thinking it will go away. The concern was that they befriended her without her consent and now shared a space in her mind causing fatigue and loss of interest in the activities that once made her feel alive.
This excerpt is a glimpse of how depression looks and feels like. Depression, often confused with sadness, is a prolonged condition that manifests in people of all age groups differently. It follows no course and can occur without a precise reason. It is a sense of intense sadness and worthlessness that seeps into a person’s life. It is involuntary and one cannot just jump out of it at will. People describe their experience of depression as being caught up in a black hole, feeling empty, blank, lifeless and apathetic. These unusual traits that conflict with their personalities start dominating their lifestyle. Just like a broken leg cannot fix on its own without proper care, similarly depression needs time and consistent effort.
Trauma at pregnancy and childbirth, substance abuse, death of a loved one, ending of a relationship and/or genetic makeup of the family are some risk factors that can make a person susceptible to having depression. In addition, some life situations like financial strain, loneliness, lack of support, chronic health concerns and unemployment can sometimes act as triggers to depression as well.