A man I used to work with called James (who said I could tell his story, if not his real name) had what might seem like an unusual story about depression. He had no family history of depressive illnesses, nor could he name an event or situation that could have caused him to become depressed. Although it may have been a long time coming, to him it felt like from one day to the next he started to lose interest in everything.
For him depression had no connection to sadness or grief. It was simply a lack of the desire to do things that everyone else seemed to in such great quantities, and because of this it took him a long time to identify what was wrong. He felt complete isolation from the family members and friends he used to enjoy spending time with. When his concerned mother told him to cheer up because he had such a full life, he just felt irritated, and in turn guilty for that irritation.
After a series of therapists and drug regimens, James was under the impression that he had treatment-resistant depression and considered this a sign he should just give up. But then he thought back to all the other people suffering from depression that he had met in the last few years. Some people really improved during group therapy sessions, some people hated them and would only talk about their issues privately. Some of them could pinpoint a traumatic event that caused a loss of control; others felt sad and lonely for ages but couldn’t say why.<p>
In short, unlike other illnesses, everyone’s symptoms were different and causes for them came from a wide spectrum. James resolved to take whatever steps he could himself, even if they were tiny ones. He couldn’t control everything, but he could stop seeing people that didn’t make him happy. He could engage in hobbies that gave him a sense of fulfillment, though few did at first, he kept at it. He could also seek alternative therapies if his depression felt resistant to treatment. He could find a psychologist whose personality worked the best with his.
In the end James’s story isn’t unusual, because depression is experienced in infinite different ways that are often deeply individual. The common thread is that you are not alone, everyone has the power to find the help they need, though it might be just a small help at first and the process might feel too arduous to begin but you can find the light. Thought the first step is the hardest every little step counts.