There are a few things I thought I knew about myself for sure: that I am strong (at least it makes me feel brave to say so) and I am an action-oriented, problem solver. Depression
was something that happened to other people, not me. How could I
of all people have been depressed?
When I look back, yeah, I was. In fact, there were several early signs of depression that I wish I would have known about. They weren't the classic images of depression that I associated with it -- they were subtle, they seemed to hide behind bigger issues, like surviving cancer. But that's the thing about depression - it's deeply personal and it looks different on everyone. For me, here are some of the signs that I missed:
1. Going From Social To Antisocial
One of the first major differences was not hanging out with friends. They would ask me to do things and would plan get-togethers, but I just had no urge to go. I am normally fairly social, so that was atypical for me. One of my friends even said that she was starting to have her feelings hurt because I never went anywhere. That was one red flag, but it seemed a far cry from depression at the time.
2. Having Random Bouts of Irritability
Another thing I noticed was this horrible irritability. I would come home from work and if anyone said anything to me, I would snap at them so bad that they would think twice before speaking to me again. I lashed out at friends and family especially. I was awful, really… but I didn't see it that way at the time.
3. Becoming Apathetic
I was not finding joy or pleasure in the things that I once enjoyed. I'm an avid baker, dog lover, and reader, but I slowly stopped doing all of those things. Right now, I couldn't tell you the last time I baked, took my dogs on a nice, long walk, or finished a book. None of that seemed interesting to me anymore.
These were the beginning signs. These lasted for several months without me picking up on there being a problem. Then it got much worse, which is when I realized I needed to seek help to diagnose my depression.These next two symptoms are when I knew I had depression.
4. Sleeping Way Too Much
I started coming straight home from work and getting into bed. Like, getting into bed at 5:30PM and not getting out of bed till the next morning. My mom and some friends commented on it, but I just attributed it to cancer/post-surgery fatigue.
5. Physically Disassociating
After all of these other symptoms started going in full-swing, I started barely showering. Like, showering weekly
. I'm not sure if anyone noticed or not (hopefully not!) but this was very unusual for me. On top of that, I was gaining weight, which made me feel worse about myself, too. I was having difficulty concentrating at work and getting easy tasks done at home.
About this time, I made an appointment with a psychiatrist who pretty much immediately diagnosed me with Major Depressive Disorder
. This sounded really awful, but when I read the criteria, it wasn't as bad as it seemed (especially since I already met almost all the criteria).It actually let me breathe a big sigh of relief to finally have a name for what I was going through. Before this diagnoses, I had felt like I was just tumbling through space, slowly deteriorating and having no anchor to stop myself.
When I finally received that diagnosis, it was like a lightbulb turned on. I had a path laid out in front of me to help me out of the darkness, and I was able to finally get myself some help that, you know, helped
. I has completely changed my post-cancer life
for the better. If you're feeling lost and untethered -- you are not alone
. Find help that works for you.
What are some other symptoms of depression that may be hard to spot? Share in the comments below!
Photo courtesy of Thomas Griesbeck