Depression is a slow-moving beast

by Mikel LaPorte
Mental Health Columnist

Our bathtub drain has a slow leak. It is the kind where you do not notice the water is draining from the tub until you have sat in it for a while and suddenly realize the water level is lower than it should be. This problem is unfortunate because I am one of those individuals who use a daily bath as part of my self-care routine. It is a way to help me relax and decompress after a long day.

Our bathtub issue is reminiscent of depression. For most people, depression doesn’t occur overnight. Some significant life events can plunge one into depression rather quickly, but most often, depression is like our slow leaking tub. It creeps in ever so slightly, unnoticed until one finds oneself amid a depressive episode.

This very scenario happened to me recently. I failed to recognize the warning signs for what they were, brushing them off as work and life-related stress until I found myself in a major depressive episode with regular thoughts of killing myself. I failed to stay diligent, thus putting my life at risk.

I chalked my disinterest in my art to being too tired from the mental energy I was expending at work. I took my back pain and frequent headaches to be a result of the packing and unpacking of moving into a new house. I interpreted my insomnia as being stress-induced and the subsequent fatigue, even on the nights I did sleep well, as a byproduct of insomnia. I chalked up my inability to concentrate, and my quick anger and irritability as a side effect of being constantly tired. I convinced myself that these were all interrelated, which they are, but did not pay attention to the fact that they were all a result of my worsening depression.

The symptoms I was having are just some of the early warning signs of depression. Others include forced happiness, being less optimistic than others, loss of one’s sex drive, increased or decreased appetite, increased use of drugs or alcohol, or weight gain and weight loss.

If you experience any of the symptoms above, please consider talking to your doctor about getting assessed for depression. Doing so is especially important if you have had a previous diagnosis of major depressive disorder.

My recent bought of depression did not have to get as bad as it did. I know the signs and to talk to my doctor when I start experiencing those signs. I chose to believe that my symptoms were unrelated to depression because I did not want to face the fact that I had a depressive episode. However, I put my life in jeopardy by ignoring the signs.

Don’t be like me. Pay attention to the warning signs and seek help. You might not be able to avoid depression. You might, however, be able to prevent yourself from falling into a severe episode of depression.

May you all be well during these chaotic times.

Copyright The Gayly. 7/24/2020 @ 7:09 p.m. CST.