Depression is like a virus, it doesn't want you to get better
Updated: Nov 23, 2018
Depression is like a virus. It doesn’t want you to get better. Those things that you know could potentially help you feel at least a little better, like exercise, snuggling, socializing, sex, eating healthier, smiling/laughing, and being outside…they’re the hardest things to get your body to do when you have depression.
It’s true, all those things release the hormone oxytocin, which is the “feel good” hormone and helps you create and maintain your happiness levels. You may even know from experience that those things can help you, but when you’re in the middle of a depressive episode you still can’t get yourself to do them.
Why does this happen? If we know something will help us feel better, why wouldn’t our bodies instantly WANT to do those things, instead of flinching away from them and burying our faces in a pillow?
It’s because depression is like a virus and it doesn’t want you to get better. It wants to have your body and your mind all to itself. It wants to bathe in the misery and self-loathing, because that feeds the virus-like nature of it.
You’re body has been hijacked.
Depression can multiply like a virus, too.
Here you are, thinking your day is going fine. Then something bad happens, and your mood tilts in the negative direction, just a little. Then something else little happens, and something else. None of these things are life-threatening, none of them are particularly terrible in the realm of things, but because you have depression in the mix, you start to feel like you’re drowning. EVERYTHING is going wrong, or so it seems. Those depressing feelings start to swarm your brain and multiply until you feel like you’re being crushed beneath the negative emotions and they’re too heavy for you to move. By midday you’re feeling so weighed down by an anchor of self-loathing, anxiety, and frustration, one that’s just dragging behind you with no way to unhitch yourself, that you want to crawl into bed and not exist.
Like a virus, depression can be contagious, or at least make those around you feel worse too. Those around you can’t contract your depression, there’s no actual contagion, but if they’re constantly trying to keep you afloat despite the anchor attached to you, they’re going to potentially get worn out too and start to drown. This, of course, makes you feel even worse, like a drain on everyone around you and like you ruin everything you touch.
But that doesn’t mean you should push those people away, or that they aren’t going to be there to help you. Sharing your problems is actually one way to help yourself relieve a little of that weight. Plus if you share what’s going on with those around you, they’ll better understand why you’re acting the way you are and not take it as personally, meaning it won’t harm them or your relationship as much as if they don’t know what’s going on.
Depression is like a virus. Which also means, thankfully, it won’t last forever. With proper treatment and care to your body, you can overcome it.
Side Note: Don’t forget that your body is doing its best in this situation. Those symptoms, those pesky, overwhelming, debilitating symptoms that we hate so much? That’s your body doing its job to let you know that something is drastically wrong, that it’s being attacked, just like the symptoms of a stuffy nose, headache, and fatigue may be your body telling you it’s being attacked by a virus.
Therefore, it’s important to recognize that you’re body is doing the best it can and not to blame it. It sounds weird, but I often internally thank my body for doing as much as it can, and for helping me survive as long as I have so far. You’re doing your best, body, and I understand and appreciate that. We’re in this together.
Your body is listening. It will respond in kind to how you speak to it and think about it, so make it good, thankful thoughts and not attacks.
Depression is a hormonal imbalance. It’s incredibly common and is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, although feeling ashamed is typically a symptom. I’ve suffered depression multiple times due to family deaths as a child, home issues as a teen, and chronic illness as an adult. As a child I didn’t know what was happening or how to change it. As a teen I handled it better, but should have gotten help. Instead I rode it out and kept thinking about when I would be out on my own, looking for happiness elsewhere, which rarely, if ever, works. And as an adult with a chronic illness, I recognized that it was a hormonal imbalance and EVENTUALLY (once I came to the realization and acceptance that the chronic illness might not go away) I began to train myself to help overcome my crippling anxiety and depression.
Like recovery from a virus or anything else, recovery from depression is done one day at a time, and it’s not linear. Some days are better than others. Some days your training is going great, and others your body is feeling too overwhelmed and you declare a mental health day of lounging, crying, eating terrible food, and watching bad movies. You’re going to have those days, and that’s okay. Start fresh the next day and keep moving forward.
There’s no instant fix for depression and it’s not going to magically go away once something good happens, like when you get to your next job, get a raise, have a child, lose some weight, etc. You need to learn how to find happiness in each moment NOW, which is where the training comes in.
Check out my other posts to learn exactly what I’ve done to train myself (especially the gratitude post), to the point where even under more bad circumstances that have piled on and been adding up for the last few years, and those with depression around me, I’ve been able to stop that heavy anchor of negative thoughts and depression from attaching itself to me and dragging me down.
I’ve been suicidal before. I’ve been helpless, with no light at the end of the tunnel. So if I can do it, trust me when I say you can too.