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Feels Like I’m Not in a Mere State of Angst, But in Real Depression

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Recently my pet bird breathed its last, about two weeks ago, and I can feel, for sure, that things aren’t the same. I have felt for a long time that I am suffering from Depression. Those signs- fatigue, hopelessness, helplessness, negativity, anxiousness, panic, overreacting, anger, worry, hypersensitivity to minor problems, not being able to let go, feeling guilty for things I do and also for things I’ve got no hand in- I can associate myself with every aspect. A few days ago, my mother probed me, seeing my hurt face, as to what is really wrong. After some reluctance, I told her, I think I’m suffering from Depression. She told me to take things easy, that my pain isn’t permanent or long lasting. But when I said the bird’s death isn’t the only thing on my mind, she told me to explain. I couldn’t get my mind and words together instantaneously, and suddenly she got very angry at me. That anger hurt me so badly that I literally started wailing piteously. It was after a while that I calmed a bit, and explain as to what really goes on inside my mind. My brother and mother voiced that they felt confused themselves, wondering why and how such irrational negativity got hold of me and why I kept it hidden. But when I said that I felt like a failure, they exploded and told me that where all my courage and strength of mind was when I really needed it, and, to add more to my pain, it was a true accusation. I always talked so much about independence and responsibilities and free will. Their words made me realize I was acting somewhat hypocritically too. Then I talked to a friend too, and she too told me to stop thinking about my depression, to “stop thinking about shit.” But on continuous thinking, or worrying, I can’t help thinking that they are hardly understanding my state of mind, thinking I’m mostly exaggerating and showing a weakness of mind. Maybe that is true, but to think that they believe that this problem is ‘created’ from head to toe by my own self, I feel like I’m barely surviving. I’m not gloom most of the time, but when I am, I feel as if they’re accusing me more harshly than necessary. I’m laughing, doing my works, sleeping, eating normally, studying too occasionally, but something’s not quite right. Also, I feel as if I opt for professional help, I might lose all my sadness, and I’d have no ground to stand on. What should I do now? (From India)

Feels Like I’m Not in a Mere State of Angst, But in Real Depression

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A.

The most curious of everything you’ve said is imbedded in your last line: “Also, I feel as if I opt for professional help, I might lose all my sadness, and I’d have no ground to stand on.” If you are saying that without your sadness, your weakness of mind would be exposed and there would be “…no ground to stand on…” this is important to look into and understand. There are three important things to reflect on:

First, your depression sounds very real and rather than question how strong your mind is, or endure the accusations of others about your strength of mind and courage, you must recognize these are not the right people to talk to or share your feelings of depression with. Well-meaning as they might be — they have made it worse by blaming you. By every measure and understanding about how to help someone with depression this is wrong and they are proving themselves to be the wrong people to go to to share these feelings. The last thing you want or need is criticism about how you are feeling and being told to: “stop thinking about shit.” These folks are simply not the right ones to help you. Don’t look to them for comfort.

Secondly, it is not hypocritical to talk about independence, responsibilities, and free will and still feel depressed. They are judging you harshly while at the same time not really taking the time to understand your state of mind. Don’t let their opinions convince you you are worse than you are. They simply do not understand. Again, it may be out of love, but it is misdirected.

The last thing has to do with you seeking professional help. One reason why you may have spent so long feeling your depression and not talking about it is fearing the very reaction you’ve received. The way out is professional help. Let someone who understands how to treat depression work with you, stop looking to your family and friend for help, and take the healthier risk that losing all your sadness and finding better ways to cope with it will be the healthier alternative than looking to your family and friend.

Feels Like I’m Not in a Mere State of Angst, But in Real Depression

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2019). Feels Like I’m Not in a Mere State of Angst, But in Real Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 5, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2019/11/17/feels-like-im-not-in-a-mere-state-of-angst-but-in-real-depression/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 13 Nov 2019 (Originally: 17 Nov 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 13 Nov 2019
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