The faces of depression

I was walking around the back of the gorilla exhibit at the zoo and saw this excellent lowland gorilla out of the corner of my eye and it really looked like exactly how I feel some days!

That made me look differently at all my photos when I got home from the zoo. I’ve put together a few pictures that look like how depression feels, at least to me.

Silverback gorilla

lowland gorilla, bushes, grumpy

‘I’m sad and tired and sulky and just want to sit here and mope! Please leave me alone’ pose from this lowland gorilla

gorilla, eating, grass

‘I’m up, I’m eating breakfast but I’m still not convinced this is a good thing’ says another lowland gorilla

Seal

seal, water, rocks, zoo

This is a seal perfectly doing my ‘do I really have to move an inch today? Please tell me I don’t have to go anywhere!’ face!

seal, rock, water, posing

And here’s a seal doing my ‘please just go away and stop being helpful, I can’t take it today!’ face

Penguin

penguins, wooden bridge, zoo

This penguin is doing the ‘weighed down with the weight of the world’ pose

fairy penguin, beach, boardwalk, water

This fairy penguin is doing my ‘please tell me the day is over and I can go to bed? Please?’ pose!

Red panda

red panda, tree, hiding away

Here is a gorgeous red panda doing the ‘if I don’t show my face maybe everyone will leave me alone and I can just hide in here all day’ pose

Giant tortoise

giant tortoise, crawling along, heavy feet

A giant tortoise moving a slow ponderous step every few seconds, just like me dragging my feet on a glum day, heavy, slow, effort-ful!

Quokka

quokka, sleepy, grass, posts

This fluffy sleepy quokka is showing my ‘there is no way that I am opening my eyes or acknowledging in any way that its daytime’ face

Lemur

lemur, striped tail

Grumpy old lemur showing my ‘don’t mess with me today, I dont have the energy to be nice’ face

Pygmy hippopotamus

pygmy hippopotamus, swimming, zoo, blocked in

‘I’m stuck. Everywhere I look there are only obstacles. I can’t do anything. There are walls and stones blocking me at every turn’ says the pygmy hippopotamus after swimming into the corner!

Mandrill baboon

mandrill, rocks, zoo

The ‘please just let me sit here for as long as it takes’ pose by a mandrill

Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo

Goodfellow's tree kangaroo, zoo, trees

This Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo says you can talk to the back cos the face just can’t take it today!

Coati

coati, south america, zoo, next, tree

‘Should I get out of bed today? It doesn’t look too promising out there; maybe I’ll just stay here for a while’ says the coati

Sumatran tiger

sumatran tiger, leaves, zoo

‘I just don’t want to talk about it’ pose from the Sumatran tiger

Apologies to the gorgeous animals that made my day at the zoo so awesome for afflicting them with depressive characteristics!

Perspective is an interesting thing I’ve found. It can make all the difference. It can shade anything black or white into shades of grey. It can confuse things, complicate things, and completely change things.

A lot of work that I’ve done with my psychologist is around perspective, or the way I view the world, and trying to change that for the better to improve my mental health.

Identifying when our perspective is blacker or darker or sadder or angrier or bleaker or “more depressed” is step one to changing perspective. It’s interesting to me to see how a thought can change perspective on a larger part of life.

Seeing this gorilla, who is probably in fact happy and satisfied and just mulling gently on life, from my perspective as grumpy and sad and depressed, led on to thinking about my whole experience in a difference, “more depressed” light. I’m sure none of these animals are really depressed; it was just an exercise to demonstrate perspective (and gave me an excuse to share all my great animal shots!).

If I can notice this negative perspective and stop it in it’s tracks, that’s a great step. If I can then take away the negative glasses and see events in a neutral way that is a second and bigger step. If I can overlay the whole experience with a positive vibe, that is the third and greatest step of all! And it’s with these steps that depression can be beaten!

A big claim!! And it comes with a catch. It’s HARD!! It takes effort, motivation, concentration, self awareness, insight, persistence, energy. And these are the things that depression takes away. So that’s a complication right there.

This is why depression is attacked with a multi-modal approach.

One: medications to increase serotonin, reverse some of the effects of depression, and bump up the energy, motivation and effort.

Two: psychologist or counsellor help to identify negative thought processes and find ways to change them

Three: self help – learning all you can about your condition so that you can find ways to help yourself. And being willing to do these things!

Some people don’t like the idea of medication. Maybe they’ve had a bad experience, maybe they’ve had side effects, maybe they have misconceptions, maybe someone has told them something that has put them off. Interestingly people believe talk amongst themselves more than doctors; even though it’s illogical.

All I know is, without medication I would not be anywhere near as good as I am today. Without it, I was a sobbing blob on the floor, unable to move, do anything, see anything but pain and blackness.

And without the medication, everything is so much harder. Because you are fighting an uphill battle against your own self. Against a state of demotivation, lack of energy, unable to enjoy things, difficulty concentrating, sadness and pain that is serotonin deficiency.

Adding in the missing serotonin is so logical and such a necessary step in getting a person back on track. It’s helps so much, gives you such a boost along the path to recovery. Without it I can’t fight the depression. I can’t get up, go out, live life, work, shop, shower, do my daily tasks. Even with a massive dose of it I struggle sometimes, mainly due to swinging moods. That’s a whole other thing.

Serotonin replacement, or anti-depressants give the needed ingredients for me to make somewhere better in my head for my life to live. They enable me, help me, boost me, push me and give me the strength to help myself. To help me change my perspective, to improve my mental health, to make a better life. Here’s to it!!

 

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