By now, you’ve probably heard 100+ different reports on mental health and what to do when you’re depressed. But everything I’ve heard, every bit of advice that’s been given, just doesn’t seem to reflect what it truly means to have depression.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a ‘dealing with depression’ guru, but I’ve had my fair share to know the various and sometimes unusual effects depression can have. You may think it’s all emotional, that you just cry all the time and feel hopeless before the day has begun, but there are so many more symptoms and obstacles that nobody ever talks about!
So here, for you all, is my 10 things nobody tells you about depression.
You may start to lose your hair
Many people mention that stress can make you lose your hair and depression is a huge stress on your body!
One of the things I was surprised by the most, was how much hair I was losing. Every time I would wash it in the shower, clumps of it would just fall out in my hand. I never had any noticeable bald patches, thank god, but it definitely made me panic a bit. I was even tested for thyroid issues, as the symptoms of an overactive/underactive thyroid and depression can be very similar.
Anxiety tends to come as part of the package
Unfortunately, it’s like one of those bundle deals you get on a new games console. You get depression, anxiety is probably not far behind.
It’s like a vicious circle. The depression and feeling low can make you anxious, as you are constantly worried about what people are thinking of you, or whether you’ll be able to recover or a myriad of other shitty things that you think are making you miserable.
If you have anxiety, this can often progress into depression, as you start to become beaten down by constantly being on edge and feeling panicked every second of every day. They just love to come along hand-in-hand!
You either sleep all the time or never sleep at all
During the day I would get extremely tired and have to have a good 4-hour nap, right smack bang in the middle of a day. Luckily at the time, I was off work, so it wasn’t like I was sleeping at my desk!
That soon went away and my sleeping patterns returned to normal, only for insomnia to then pay me a visit every night. I went from sleeping around 16-18 hours a day to about 4-5 hours. I would just lie awake at night, no matter how tired I thought I was, staring at the ceiling thinking about how uncomfortable my bed is.
The tiniest hiccup in your plans can send you spinning out of control
When you’re suffering from depression, you may not outwardly show it all of the time and you may even have good days, where you can completely forget it’s even there! But all it takes is one minor kink in a plan or routine and it could send you spinning out of control.
I once had a complete breakdown because I saw a post on social media that should really have only made me feel a little bit sad, before brushing it off and moving on with my life, but instead, I got home and cried hysterically for about 2 hours.
The weirdest part was that an hour later I was completely fine and laughing my arse off at funny cat videos on YouTube. It really is a rollercoaster of emotion.
Your digestive system may suffer
When I was in the worst of it, I noticed that my intolerance to certain foods just came out of nowhere and I developed IBS. I couldn’t eat anything with beef in it anymore, I had to drastically control the amount of dairy I ate and apples bloated me painfully.
You may forget sometimes that your digestive system is a carefully balanced machine that relies on the chemical reactions in your body all working correctly. One little change and it can knock it all out of whack!
You may want to eat everything in sight, or you’ll fall out with food
I went from either binge eating all my favourite foods, to having no appetite whatsoever. It’s always one extreme to the other, it always sends you hurtling to one end of the scale or the other, never giving you balance and stability.
I had lost a fair bit of weight before dipping back down into another spell of depression and I quickly started to pile the pounds back on, which made my depression worse because I was gaining all the weight back that I’d worked so hard to lose!
I had to re-discover a way to improve my relationship with food and start to get back on track with nutrition.
It completely changes the way you view the world
Everyone will suddenly be mad or frustrated with you, your friends will hate you, strangers will stare at you and you’ll be in trouble with work, even though you’ve done nothing wrong. Well, none of those are actually true, but you’ll believe them 100%!
Depression warps your thought process and patterns, it creates paranoia and self-doubt and this is, in my opinion, one of the hardest things to deal with.
Your brain is the centre of everything, it is your main computer and if it is telling you something, of course you believe it. Why would you lie to yourself? But it happens. It tries to isolate you to prevent you from hurting emotionally. It’s up to you to fight back and question these thoughts to see the world how it really is.
You’ll feel nothing but everything all at once
I remember a moment where I thought ‘How can I feel so unbelievably sad, yet emotionally numb at the same time?’. It’s the strangest feeling, to have this sense that there’s a hollow hole in your stomach and as if your nervous system has just switched off, but also feel like the world is crashing down around you.
Pushing through is the only way forward if you let yourself be engulfed by it, even for a second, it becomes completely overwhelming.
There’s a chance you may turn into the Incredible Hulk
Ah anger issues, my old friend. Everyone that knows me will tell you I have a ‘fiery’ personality. That’s just their nice way of saying ‘you’re one angry bitch’.
You will most likely have this underlying feeling of irritation at pretty much everything and one tiny annoyance can make you blow up like Vesuvius. My temper is extremely short, but as soon as I started to take anti-depressants, it’s slowly eased off and I feel so much more tolerant to bullshit than I did before!
Being healthy and active actually does make a difference
Doctors, gym freaks and even my high school PE teacher all said that eating healthy and exercising could change your life, not just your body but your mind and emotional state. I used to hate working out so I refused to believe them. But after finding workouts that I enjoy and love to push myself through, I realised how much of a difference it really does make.
Too many sugary foods or caffeine and I’m an emotional time-bomb. No exercise for a week and I can feel my mood slowly dipping. It’s only now that I actually enjoy my gym time that I realise the effect it actually has on my overall health. I’m sure it’s something that not many of you want to hear, but it’s true!
If you want to really know what to do when you’re depressed, it’s this… get outside and get active. Wallowing in the place you feel safe and comfortable is never going to solve anything. You have to pick yourself up, recognise what is best for you and your health and push yourself out that door!
Just getting outside for 30 minutes a day can make a world of difference and I promise you, you’ll start to feel some sort of normality again!