Sometimes, it seems, the cruelest aspect of being stricken with this illness is its inherent nature of being difficult to quantify. Whereas with other ailments there are observable, physical symptoms with a clear-cut effect on the individual, the depressive suffers largely inside his or her mind. While an all-pervading illness with similarly paralyzing effects of any bodily sickness, the depressive can appear outwardly normal and is often held to the same standards and expectations of the mentally sound. Therein lies the twisted cruelty. I came here to vent about this, and I'm sure many others here have similar experiences.
While there is sympathy and reprieve in those who are understanding or who have suffered themselves, there will always be the people who will simply never understand depression. There are the hopeless cases (a shockingly large portion of the population) who believe depression to be a character flaw rather than a legitimate illness. In addition, there are those that accept it for what it is, but being utterly unable to empathize, they underestimate and misunderstand depression.
Without going into my personal experience with depression, which spans over a decade and is heady and involved indeed, I just wanted to express my frustration with the people in my life who fall into the aforementioned categories.
To those in my life who refuse to, or are otherwise incapable of, understanding my illness:
While I openly admit that I am lazy and suffer from a general sense of apathy, I am sick and tired of you chalking up every failure and shortcoming on my behalf to my laziness. I wish you could understand how there are other forces at work when I am faced with a simple task and am willing to make the necessary sacrifices to complete it, but I find myself entangled in a web of doubt, fear, self-loathing and fractured cognition. While you might only perceive capability plus failure to produce and conclude, in your black-and-white concept of causality, that surely a character flaw is causing the stagnation, you are grossly mistaken. I already suffer from poor self esteem and an out-of-whack self-perception, so your constant reference to me as a case study for ability gone awry and laziness or lack of ambition run amuck is not only mischaracterizing and hurtful, it also feeds my condition. While you may not realize it, I have boundless ambition buried within the murky depths of my mind, and while I'm not afraid of a day's honest work, there is a very real road block preventing its translation to production. The reaching, unfair generalization you make when you assume I'm just doing whatever I can to wiggle my way out of as much work as possible is untrue and hurtful. Sometimes I want to heal more to prove you wrong than to help myself. I hate your short-sightedness and dismissal of my struggle. I hate that you hold me to the same standards as yourself and everyone else when I'd be bedridden if my illness had only a physical rather than largely mental manifestation.
Maybe it's unreasonable to expect, but I wish you could separate the person from the foreign intruder that affects the person. My poor self-perception breeds poor habits of self care, and my poor self esteem is no more a part of me than a brain tumor is for someone afflicted. Rising from bed in the morning is a different game when you're in my condition, and though it may look like I'm achieving little, I am putting in long, wearisome days in my mind, and no matter how tired or worn you may feel after a long day's obstacles and work, I guarantee I feel more spent at the day's end. I suffer from a cruel, self-perpetuating ailment, and I while I know your intentions are often in the right place, I wish you would try harder to empathize. There is simply no "snapping out" of the place I'm in, and your misguided attempts at helping are often hurtful and counterproductive.
Well, that felt good. I encourage anyone else with similar frustrations to use this as a forum to vent. Or perhaps you think I hit the nail on the head and want to put it out there that this has been your experience too? Either way, I'd love to hear from you. End achingly long and involved post.