Friday 7 July 2017

Why Quietness Speaks a Thousand Words

Why Quietness Speaks a Thousand Words mental health depression help support anxiety time to change mind panic attacks suicide

Depression can take shape in many different ways. There isn't a ' one size fits all' umbrella that everyone fits under. Everyone will be affected differently. However, from my understanding of listening to people in my college class, as we talked about depression, many in society, only have a basic understanding of what depression is and are only aware of some of the more stereotypical symptoms of depression.

When you think of depression, you may think of someone who has not left their house in months, someone who you haven't seen them smile in a very long time or even someone who hasn't brushed or showered in days. For some, this is the harsh reality of living with depression, but it isn't the case for everyone. You probably go to school or work with someone suffering from depression. I have no doubts you've walked past someone in the street today struggling with depression. Yet, you probably don't look twice at them. 

Why's that? Because depression isn't something that is always visible. Depression isn't like a broken leg or bleeding nose, it's not always easy to spot which often means you have to read between the lines. That can be tricky sometimes. You don't know if the person is suffering from depression or is just having a bad day. You don't know if being quiet is just part of their personality or an indication of them facing an internal battle. Which is why I want to talk about some of the symptoms of depression that aren't always as obvious. By reading this, I hope it educates you, and you never know, you may help save a life. 

The following is what the NHS lists as symptoms of depression, on their website. 

Psychological symptoms
  • continuous low mood or sadness
  • feeling hopeless and helpless
  • having low self-esteem 
  • feeling tearful
  • feeling guilt-ridden
  • feeling irritable and intolerant of others 
  • having no motivation or interest in things
  • finding it difficult to make decisions
  • not getting any enjoyment out of life
  • feeling anxious or worried 
  • having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself
Physical symptoms
  • moving or speaking more slowly than usual 
  • changes in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased) 
  • constipation 
  • unexplained aches and pains
  • lack of energy
  • low sex drive (loss of libido)
  • changes to your menstrual cycle
  • disturbed sleep – for example, finding it difficult to fall asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning
Social symptoms
  • not doing well at work
  • avoiding contact with friends and taking part in fewer social activities
  • neglecting your hobbies and interests
  • having difficulties in your home and family life
This is obviously a lot. The NHS does state that it is unlikely you will be affected by every symptom listed above. I wanted to include the above list, to draw your attention to some of the lesser known symptoms of depression.

Depression, this mental illness, which is often stigmatised, is never really regarded to be a physical illness, which it definitely should be. ( Heads up, I wrote a post all about this. You can read that here) Look at the list- how many of those symptoms are also apparent in physical illnesses. Aches and pains, changes to sleep, work and even constipation. DEPRESSION IS JUST LIKE ANY OTHER PHYSICAL ILLNESS.

Yet, it's not because a stigma surrounds depression that doesn't come with a broken leg, flu or throat infection. No one in their right mind would tell someone with a broken leg, to just keep going, walk on it, no harm could be possibly done. Of course, if you said that you would be talking utter nonsense. Yet, people struggling with depression in physical pain, can't have a day off without feeling guilty or ashamed. How is that even right?

I could go on for ages about why mental illnesses should be regarded as physical illnesses, but as I've already written a post about it, are draw that rant to a close here. I do want to touch on some of the emotional and social symptoms of depression though. The ones which are so commonly missed, which can turn out to be fatal.

Why Quietness Speaks a Thousand Words depression mental health illness wellbeing support help anxiety time to change mind blogger UK panic attacks

' Avoiding contact with friends and taking part in fewer social activities'

Okay, I want you to sit and think for a minute. Is there anyone you haven't heard from in a while? Someone who has been a bit distant recently? PLEASE DON'T THINK IT IS NOTHING! TALK TO THEM!

It doesn't have to be super confrontational like I am making it out to be, I promise. Just drop them a message or a tweet. Let them know you are thinking of them, and if they want to chat about anything or hang out, you would be happy to.

You see the thing with depression, which I know all too well is that it makes you feel like a burden. It tells you not to bother contacting friends because they don't really like you. This often makes the sufferer retreat and spend more and more time on their own. Loneliness and isolation are some of the worst emotions and feelings to ever experience. You can make this better by contacting that person who you haven't heard from in a while, reassuring them they are loved and cared for.

This behaviour isn't attention seeking, in any shape or form. It really is a symptom of the illness that the sufferer doesn't have much control over. Just like, someone with the flu doesn't have much control over their cough or a headache.

But what if they don't want my help? What if they are fine and I'm just making a fuss out of nothing? These are very valid concerns. Unfortunately, you can't force people to get help for mental health problems. But what you can do is be there, every step of the way. Whether that be to keep them safe, offer a gentle hug or a shoulder to cry on. Offer support and reassurance. Don't be forceful or pressure them into anything, they don't feel ready for. Just be there.

Secondly, you may be making a fuss out of nothing. But isn't it better just to make sure and to check then to not bother at all and live to regret it, when the worst possible outcome occurs? I think so. It costs nothing to be kind. That applies to everyone, not just those struggling with their mental health. We live in a world, that is constantly on the go, and nobody ever stops, takes 30 seconds out of their day to ask people how they are, anymore. You can be that person.

' Quietness speaks a thousand words' 

In the case of depression, this is very much true. I'm by no means saying your friend you haven't heard from today has depression. We all have good days and bad days. Sometimes we want time to ourselves. If you are an introvert, like me, you will understand just how much energy it takes to go out sometimes and meet people. Even if it just for a coffee, your bed sounds a much better option. 

But for people suffering from depression, they often do want to go out, and they do want to talk to you, but every single part of their brain is telling them not to. So they don't. Which is why quietness speaks a thousand words. Being withdrawn, distant and unusually quiet for extended periods of time is often a cry for help. 

So be the bigger man. Don't hesitate to get in contact with your friends you've not heard from in a while. I know it can be confusing if you don't understand depression. But take it like this, avoiding contact with friends and family is a symptom of their illness. Like a headache or aches and pains are of the flu. Reach out to them, make sure they are okay. You never know you may save a life.

I hope this post has given you a greater insight into some of the lesser well-known symptoms of depression and has encouraged you to check up on friends, who you may think are struggling in silence. 

There is 'no one size fits all umbrella' for depression. Everyone is affected differently and what you may know about depression might not be how your loved ones around you are being affected. Don't let it go unnoticed.

Thank you for reading, as always X 

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