When people close to Robin Williams admitted to the public that the multi-awarded comedian actor battled against depression (It was later on revealed that Robin Williams was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia which might have triggered his depression.) — people all over the world were surprised.
Who wouldn’t be? After all, he was a comedian. He made people of all ages laugh at his movies. He touched the lives of the people he worked with, with his humor and kindness. It just goes to show that depression can hit anyone.
Learning that the late actor had depression, was quite hard to believe. Aside from being an inspiration, a lot of people would not think twice to define Robin Williams with the word ‘successful.’
And ‘depressed’ plus ‘successful’ people is hard to associate with each other. But it can happen.
That is exactly what makes depression as one of the most alarming health issues we need to understand better today. Depression hits people with problems, depression hits people who seems to have it all as well. You may have a friend who laughs a lot and jokes around all the time, and he could still be depressed at the same time he kids around.
Depression knows no social status, knows no educational background, knows no ‘success.’ It can be referred to as an invisible illness since it is a mental issue invisible to the eye. It is a concern you may not be aware of unless people talk to you directly and openly about it.
So how do we know if someone we love or someone we know is battling against depression? A 22-year old visual artist and mental health advocate, Pauline Palita shared a way of spotting people with depression in her Twitter account.
Pauline shared that whenever people ask her “How are you doing?” She would typically reply with “I’m fine, just tired.” She noted that people usually accept her response, and in her defense, she is not complaining, she is just stating a fact.
As someone who also has her own fare share of silent battles, Pauline shared that people who have a mental issue always feel tired. Wondering why?
Because people with mental issue have brains stuck in overdrive and have a great amount of difficulty unwinding to fall asleep at night.
Pauline added that it only takes an average of 7 minutes for a person to fall asleep. But for those who are battling depression and other mental health issues, it takes an average of an hour in order to fall asleep. Just imagine how that feels like for someone who is already tired from work, only to still exert an effort just to relax their brain.
Those with depression and mental health issue often have disturbed sleep, those who often have to toss and turn a lot of times and sleep is still of no avail.
“These are people who wake-up feeling, at best, slightly more rested than they were when they crawled into bed in the first place-like a battery that has been damaged that never seems to recharge properly…” Pauline explained using metaphors for better understanding.
People with depression and mental health issue do not actually feel “refreshed” after a nap or a deep sleep. Actually, they could take long hours of sleep, and they would still feel tired.
People with depression and mental health issue are also those who exert great effort into focusing on their task, but their minds are trying to carry them down other paths. Making it hard to deal with the tasks and responsibilities they need to work on.
“These are people who are in constant war with their own brain. People who are battling their own thoughts and fears…These are people who are in a constant war with other people’s judgment and lack of understanding… These are people who send most of every day dealing with fears that others sometimes find silly and irrational.”
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 16 million of adults in the United States suffered from one major depressive episode in year 2012. While as per World Health Organization, there are over 350 million of people all over the world suffering from depression.
Depression is a real issue that we need to be educated about. Just because we couldn’t literally see it doesn’t mean it is not there. The figure given by health institutions is enough proof that it exists. And we need to deal with it.
A lot of people lost loved ones from depression. And often times, they couldn’t help but blame themselves. How could they not know that the people they cherish and treasure the most have an alarming concern? Well, this could be due to the fact that most of those with depression and mental health issue, is hesitant to share their problem with others.
“It’s like living on a rope bridge swaying in the wind over a canyon while you’re afraid of heights. And hearing, “I don’t understand what you’re complaining about. The bridge is secure. Suck it up and deal with it. I can do it, so you can too.”
Most of those with depression is having second thoughts of sharing their feelings with other people. Because they are afraid to be misunderstood. They are anxious that their concern would be dismissed as nonsense.
“When someone tells you they’re tired, sometimes you need to look beyond their answer. Are they tired? Are they physically tired and need some sleep? Or do they in fact need you?”
Here are other emotional and physical manifestations or warning signs shared by the National Institute of Mental Health that could help you spot people silently suffering from depression and mental health issues:
- Extreme irritability over minor things
- Anxiety and restlessness
- Anger management issues
- Loss of interest in favorite activities / hobbies
- Fixation on the past or on things that have gone wrong
- Thought of death or suicide
- Insomnia or too much sleep
- Debilitating fatigue
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Difficulty in concentration
- Unexplained aches and pains.
“Do they need somebody to look them in the eyes and tell them they’re not fine but that you’re there for them? Do they need someone to realize they’re not OK and to offer them a hug? Because I know when I say I’m tired, that’s what I need.” Pauline shared from her personal experience.
“I beg of you, on behalf of all of us fighting our own silent battles, please be patient and empathetic. Just because you don’t experience it doesn’t mean that it’s not a reality for someone else.” Pauline pleaded- stating the compassion people with depression needs.
Taking a good look at our beloved ones and making them feel that we really care about them could help them win their silent battles. Let your loved ones know that you are concerned about their life and that you are just there to support them. Affection is not expensive.
Sometimes, what our loved ones need is a simple hug or kiss, an assurance that someone cares. You may also share this post to help raise awareness and educate people about one of the biggest mental health issue of our time.
(Note: This article is for informational purposes only and not to be treated as a professional opinion or diagnosis. If you’re dealing with any of these signs & symptoms or know someone who does, it’s important to always consult with your doctor or a specialist.]
[If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources. Here’s what you can do when a loved one is severely depressed.]