When Does Sadness Become Depression?

I just got nothing today.

Nothing at all. This is not a post about writer’s block, this is a post about emptiness. I feel like life has lost its lustre, but I can’t be too despondent here because I don’t want to cry. I want to be positive.

It’s really hard to keep looking on the Brightside. I have had trouble with negative-self-talk before, so it’s nothing new for me. I guess that I feel sad because even though things are generally good in my life, I’m feeling a bit like the world has lost its colour and that there’s nothing to live for.

Yeh – it’s not fun.

sad girl

Of course, even though I feel like that today – it’s not necessarily true. In fact, it’s not true at all. I have to keep reminding myself that My Thoughts Are Not My Reality.

By brain is not me, my heart is not me. I remember being taught in high school that back in Shakespeare’s time, feelings of love were thought to come from the liver, not the heart. One of my favourite Shakespeare plays is The Twelfth Night. Here is the liver quote:

Alas, their love may be called appetite,
No motion of the liver, but the palate,
That suffer surfeit, cloyment, and revolt.
But mine is all as hungry as the sea,
And can digest as much.

Liver, heart, brain, amygdala – I’m not sure which part of my cursed body is responsible for flooding me with these terrible, distressing feelings day and night. I found a post yesterday that mentioned that when we go through something traumatic (in my case a break up) our minds have to process the information and this can be distressing.

I have to remind myself that these feelings are normal. This is ok. I don’t have to feel happy all the time. It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to feel desolate. Hang on… do you think I’m depressed?

I found a post on About.com on called Sadness is Not Depression. Phew! They provide some useful tips on how to be sad, the healthy way (really!):

  1. Allow yourself to be sad.
  2. If you are feeling sad, plan a sadness day. “Plan a day or evening just to be alone, listen to melancholy music, and to observe your thoughts and feelings.”
  3. Think about the context of the sad feelings.
  4. Sadness can result from a change that you didn’t expect, or it can signal the need for      a change in your life.
  5. Know when sadness turns into depression.

Personally, I couldn’t think of anything WORSE for me now than “planning a sadness day”. What a crappy idea. Even writing this sadness blog post is depressing the f**k out of me.

Anyway – the last time I felt so truly awful I did go to see a doctor. They did the same thing they always do and tell me I’m fine, which I know I am. My depression/sadness is always linked to an actual event in my life, and never lasts for more than a few months. This has only happened about 4 times in my adult life, and only once did I really let it get on top of me, and that was when I was separated form my family and friends as I was living interstate.

But am I depressed or sad?

Another great article from the Huffington Post – telling me that it’s OK to be sad, and that sadness is not depression. Depression is this:

To have a diagnosable “major depressive disorder” you must have at least one of two particular symptoms — called “cardinal” symptoms. Deep sadness (“depressed mood”) is one of the two cardinal symptoms. The other is called “anhedonia” (Greek for “without pleasure”), which means not taking pleasure in pretty much anything, even in things that used to give you pleasure — your work, your hobbies, your grandchildren, your friends, etc.

Don’t end up in a cycle!

The article seesm to tell me the only danger is not to get into a depressive cycle – but I’m not in danger of that. In a away – I’m kind of glad I am allowing myself to feel my feelings. I know I will get though this very sad period. It’s only a matter of time.

Photos by Kurt Komoda and obaxterlovo thank you!

  1. May 17, 2013

    So where to start….I could start by saying I know where you’re coming from. That wont hit the mark. I could ask you to cheer up. But that’ll miss it too.

    So how about this then…

    When you’re depressed, you will know it, and right now it doesnt seem like it.

    Everyone feels down at times. And sometimes, these times last a long time. If you think its becoming a problem then I recommend you go speak with your doctor. I also suggest you get a routine sorted that gets you out. And then I strongly suggest you stick to it.

    I’d also like to take the opportunity to say that you might be thinking too much about things, and simply try to let go. I know. Easier said than done, right?

    Ultimately, the path you’re on wont really change until your mindset changes (brains, who’d have em?!). The easiest and perhaps most effective way would be to do the things you normally enjoy, and to do those regularly, despite the fact you may not get the same enjoyment from it as you normally would.

    Force your negative self to get out and do something that your positive self enjoys. It snowballs from there. If you cant do it on your own, get help from friends and family. Join groups. Meet people. Do things. Stick to promises. And finally, simply be the person you want to be. It will happen.

    1. May 21, 2013

      What a great comment. You are so correct – I am trying to do the things I normally enjoy – but now I just get less enjoyment from them. I know I’ll pull myself out of it before too long. And yes, I agree that I am thinking about things too much – I wish I could just “let go”. It sounds so simple and yet I can’t seem to get my head around it. How can I let go of a feeling, how can I resolve all these emotions?

      I think (as you say) that I juts need to give myself time. Thank you for taking the time to give me such a well thought out reply – and so helpful too.

      I wish that my life was always happy, that I always achieved, that the sun always shined on me – but this is not the case. Sometimes my life is crap – but that’s ok.

      Thanks and thanks again.


      1. May 21, 2013

        Its all good – any way I can help someone else is always worthwhile.

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