People who haven’t experienced serious clinical depression are seldom able to understand how different it is from “being down” or “the blues,” those dips every adult human has felt at some point.
They’re often judgmental, and see those who are severely depressed as being of weak character. I’ve had one such person apologize to me for a decade of judging me that way, but it took a miscarriage and living through severe depression herself for her to “get it.” By then, what we’d once thought to be a “forever friendship” was irretrievably damaged.
This is one of the best descriptions I’ve ever seen of true depression. I don’t want to lose it, so I’m posting it here. I don’t know if it will help someone to understand, but I can hope.
The bleakness of the landscape is unimaginable. It is as friendless and alien as a Dali painting. Ordinary concerns, such as work or friends, have no place here. Futility muffles thought; time elongates cruelly. Who is to blame for this situation? Those with depression think it must be them. Pointlessness and self-loathing govern them. So the natural final step is suicide. People with depression don’t kill themselves to frighten an errant boyfriend. They kill themselves because it is the obvious and right thing to do at that point. It is the only positive step they can think of.
Kay McKall, an Ipswich (UK) general practitioner and consumer with depression, writing in the British Medical Journal (NAMI Advocate, winter 2002)