By Debbie Kerr
Have I experienced depression? Yes. Have I seen a therapist? Yes. Do I ever dislike myself and doubt my self-worth. Absolutely. Have I ever thought I didn’t want to go on? Yes. Do I have loved ones who are experiencing depression? Yes. Do I always know the right thing to say and do? Absolutely not.
What is depression?
The Mayo Clinic lists the following as some symptoms of depression:
Why does it happen?
I’m not a professional, but here are a few of my theories.
Lunch bag letdown
Depending on your age, lunch bag letdown might be an unfamiliar term to you. As a kid, when you took your lunch to school, someone else may have made your lunch for you. In your mind, right up until you opened that bag, you knew that the best dessert would be in that bag. Unfortunately, when you opened your lunch bag, you may have found a lousy apple. You were stunned. How could someone do this to you? That disappointment was “lunch bag letdown”.
Lunch bag letdown does not just apply to lunches. It can apply to any disappointing experience. It can happen on a large or small scale. It can be totally unexpected at a time when you expect to be happy. Here are a few examples:
For each of these three events, there was a big build up to a major event and maybe reality didn’t match that expectation. Maybe the wedding didn’t go off without a hitch; maybe the magical image of motherhood didn’t match the lack of sleep, and maybe the fear of not actively doing any more cancer treatments felt more scary than exciting.
Loss of structure or purpose
In addition to reality not matching expectations, there was also the structure that was required to make sure you completed your tasks on time. Brides have a special calendar (or wedding planner) to ensure various tasks get completed on time. With a baby, there are monthly visits to the doctor that gradually get more frequent. There is a pre-determined schedule to make sure both mother and baby remain healthy. With cancer treatments, there is a plan and each step of that plan is supposed to take place at specific intervals to maximize the odds of the patient’s cancer going away. Somehow, once the event is over, everything seems more chaotic and a person’s sense of purpose and direction is suddenly gone.
Just too much (feeling overwhelmed)
It’s one thing to feel disappointment. It’s a whole other story if one disappointment follows another or the reason for that disappointment is extremely important to you. Sometimes everything seems to be coming at you at the same time. You just finish dealing with one issue before another one hits. It can feel like life, in general, is ganging up on you. You may feel like you’re drowning, like there’s no way to keep your head above water.
Sometimes, the series of disappointments can be overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be a big disappointment to add to the feeling of being overwhelmed. Events, when combined, can wear anyone down over a period of time, for example:
What can you do if you’re depressed?
No one can make you better unless you are willing to be part of the process. Celebrate when you achieve a goal and, if you don’t succeed, deal with that disappointment and decide when you’re going to try again. No one succeeds all the time.
What can you do if someone else is depressed?
Everyone has their own story. Everyone has their own way of dealing with different situations and the feelings that come with them. So, whether you are feeling lunch bag letdown or overwhelmed, find the structure that will have you take the steps you need to deal with your depression. No one is immune from experiencing depression.
This post doesn’t replace the advice and knowledge of a medical professional.
Over 30-years of writing experience, about 10 years as a cancer survivor, and a lifetime purveyor of wit and laughter.
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