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Woman Creates Chart To Help Others Understand Her Depression

No matter how many of us know someone with a mental health issue, there still exist some people who think you can just "snap out" of depression.

And while that idea may make a lot of us roll our eyes, it is true that the nature of depression can still be hard to understand for those lucky enough not to live with it.

Although trying to make sense of a condition that defies rationality is no easy task, one author has created a chart that helps us recognize the way depression affects people's feelings.

By now, we've seen a lot of tragic reminders of how powerful depression can be.

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As the Mayo Clinic puts it, a depressive episode can affect most of someone's day for every day it persists, interfere with day-to-day activities, and leave people miserable or unhappy without necessarily knowing why.

It's not uncommon for the condition to make people feel like life isn't worth living.

But the problem isn't just the depression is so powerful and persistent, but that it's also unpredictable.

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As author B.L. Acker wrote on her blog, depression comes in unexpected waves and can randomly alternate between making those living with it feel numb and feeling everything intensely.

Not only that, but the time intervals and intensity at which it makes these switches isn't possible to predict either.

Still, the ways in depression affects someone's emotional state are common enough that it possible to map them out at least a little bit.


And in the blog named after her book, Unlovable, author B. L. Acker has done just that.

Although depression is known to randomly switch between these mental states or express both at the same time, its two main weapons are feelings of numbness and feelings of a personal downward spiral.

In the figure above, Acker gives a soft definition for what those two weapons do, but this chart explains what each level of intensity feels like.


She said this chart is extremely simplified, but with it, she aimed to show that depression isn't just about sadness and hopelessness and to show what it can mean when the condition gets worse.

She also made it clear that depression doesn't just have people experiencing either numbness or emotional hopelessness.

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Oftentimes, those living with depression will experience a degree of both feelings at once.

For instance, it's possible that someone could feel a loss and interest and motivation to get anything done and also feel that life sucks and that everything is harder than it should be.

So even if someone with depression is able to get out of bed and get things done, that doesn't necessarily mean they're having a good day with the condition.

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Some days, they may feel numb and detached, while they may feel everything more intensely than usual on other days.

In the latter case, this is why it's not uncommon for those with depression to get angry and frustrated over matters that seem smaller than that reaction warrants.

For this aspect of depression, Acker compares the levels of intensity here to the pain we feel when we lose something.

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As she wrote, "Milder stages of depression might be akin to losing something that matters to you, perhaps something of sentimental value. As depression increases, imagine the pain of losing a beloved pet, your parents, your spouse or your child. Imagine the ache and the pain, the feeling in that moment of things never being okay again, of wanting to give up, to crumble under the weight of that pain."

Of course, even for those going through it, depression is still hard to explain partially because it doesn't make much sense to those living with it either.

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It works to distort reality and make both life itself and the person living it seem worse than they really are. And it's for this reason that it's all the more important to understand it.

After all, if someone we care about gets it into their head that the world is better off without them, understanding depression introduces hope of revealing why that isn't true.

As Acker wrote, "The best I can do is to lay out what depression is like in a very simplified form and hope for your empathy, compassion, understanding and patience."

h/t: Unlovable