It’s the season to be jolly – isn’t it?
Sadly, it’s also the time of year that it is easiest to catch a nasty cold dose of clinical depression.
When it actually happens, depression is all too real – and devastatingly, uncontrollably, impossible to hide from – but the worst thing is that it can creep up on one so insidiously. Lots of people are completely oblivious to the danger and simply refuse to recognise that things are getting out of control.
It’s called being in denial – and we are all very good at doing it – until it is too late. The trouble is that denying a problem ends up making it worse. So here are some of the sort of early signs that things might be getting out of hand and that you should be getting some help – right now.
It’s party time….
You just can’t stop socialising – and you’re just loving it! Every evening is booked – and then some… But is the sole purpose of all this partying to keep you from thinking about your thoughts and feelings? Having a brimming social calendar is not the answer – not if it is just a way to avoid the truth….
How did that happen? Somehow you are on the second bottle and you haven’t had a bite to eat yet…
In our culture, drinking alcohol is the most common way that we self-medicate away our emotional pain. Of course the biggest problem with this type of medication is that it isn’t medication at all – it’s another problem – and it feels so much worse in the morning, every morning until…
You’ve had enough of them all, you’re going to stand up for yourself from now on…
The feeling of helplessness brought on by increasing depression can often result in people deciding to assert themselves – or looking to blame others. So if you suddenly find yourself getting into arguments with other drivers or losing your temper in the supermarket checkout queue, or even deciding that you absolutely have to get divorced as soon as possible. Is it really them? – or is it you? Are you distracting yourself from your own emotional pain by trying to make it someone else’s problem….
It’s amazing, at last you’ve worked it all out – and you’ve never felt better….
Some people cope with depression by acting in the opposite way to how they really feel. So you suddenly decide to start up a new and previously completely unconsidered and unlikely project – or quit your job to write a book or launch your career as a singer – and you feel absolutely invincible and capable of anything. One major effect of depression is feeling that you have no control, so taking control, even if it is an illusion and actually about you losing control, is a sign of what is to come…
You feel nothing – nothing at all – and you just don’t care….
Rather than accept your depression, you seem to give up feeling altogether. So you end up getting stuck in some sort zombie state, denying the pain by dismissing it – and everything and everyone else. People try to help, and you ignore or reject them – or, worse, snap at them for asking how you are – or dismiss the attempt to engage with you by praising you as insincere. One of the worst effects of this sort of denial is that it alienates those who care for you so that when it does all come tumbling down they are no longer there to help…..
You just know it will all be all right, you’ve had a dream – in fact, you’re in one right now….
Do you distract yourself in the moment all the time? Do you spend half the night on Facebook or read a book until 4.00 am? Do you live in a fantasy world? Do you know you are going to win the lottery tomorrow? That wonderful ability to live in an imaginary world could just be getting a bit out of hand…..
It can’t really be done – but you’re just going to have to work even harder…..
When people are depressed, they sometimes have trouble seeing any solutions to their problems. Instead, they bury their need to change things somewhere deep and just do more of the same. They do more hours at work, they go on doing chores for longer, they just carry on, trying to manage the unmanageable, not facing it, just doing it, until….
It really isn’t that sad – but suddenly, it is….
Over reacting emotionally to minor things and under reacting to major things, in other words, lacking appropriate feelings, is often a sign that things are getting seriously out of hand – that you are really losing control…….
So…. Do you recognise yourself in any of these scenarios? Do you recognise someone else? The problem is that, even if you do, you – or they – will not do what you/they need to do which is get help – of course not! You’re in denial!
That being said, it’s worth a try….. The best indicator of improved outcomes in mental health is early access to professional support. We really can help…..
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