Depression: On Noise, Answering the Telephone and Making Decisions

Depression both heightens and numbs. It’s an illness full of contradiction and confusion. The simple things become the hard things; sapping our motivation, headspace and energy. Fighting the negative thoughts is a never-ending cycle of frustration, anguish and despair. It’s no wonder then, that seemingly simple tasks become anything but simple.

Things which were never a problem before, become overwhelming. Frightening, even. A source of shame.

We wanted to shine the spotlight on three everyday things which are easily taken for granted when we’re well. These three seemingly simple things can affect our day-to-day lives and lead us to feel incredibly misunderstood.

Many people with depression experience a deafening barrage of thoughts, all day (and night). They’re intense, loud, painful, and emotionally draining. It’s a noisy illness in that respect. Sometimes they grow so loud and so vast, that they merge into a ball of numbness. We can’t make head nor tail of them.

Which might explain why there’s often a sensitivity to external noise or anything which might overload our senses; chatter, loud music, noises competing against one another, bright lights and clutter. Everyday ‘normal level’ noise which doesn’t bother us when we’re well nor does it tend to bother those around us. They just sound so loud, threatening and intense. We’ll do anything to avoid them; decline social invitations, wear headphones and avoid busy places.

Answering the telephone

A texter, not a talker? You’re not alone. Many of those with depression agree that a ringing telephone can be a source of stress, as well as the prospect of having to make a telephone call.

In a day and age where there are so many non-talking means of communication, you’d think that talking on the telephone could be avoided. That’s not always the case.

Making a telephone call can take a lot of courage. We plan what we might say but worry that we might be interrupting what you are doing. Or that you might not answer and we’ll have to go through the courage build-up all over again.

We’re not being standoffish, rude, or ignorant if we don’t answer the telephone. It just feels darn impossible; our hearts start to race, we feel on edge and we will the phone to just. Stop. Ringing. We don’t mean to push you away.

Text communications allow us time to think, to consider our responses. If we’re being asked to do something, saying ‘no’ is much easier via text. We don’t always have the strength either, to pretend we’re okay. That’s far easier via text too.

Making decisions

We make hundreds of teeny decisions in a day. Some of them are easy, some of them much harder. Depression changes our cognitive functions. Decisions are difficult.

You see, ordinarily, our feelings are our signposts – they guide us to make decisions, tell us what works for us and what doesn’t work for us, who we enjoy spending time with and those who we don’t enjoy spending time with. It’s so important to listen to those feelings, to digest them and explore the route of them too. They also highlight our wonky boundaries (you know, those times we’ve agreed to do something for someone because we feel we ought to, and then resented every single second of it or because we’re so exhausted and have nothing to left to give). But we don’t trust our feelings when we’re unwell with depression. We know our perspective is skewed.

Sometimes decisions are hard because we don’t have the headspace. Sometimes they’re hard because we just don’t care enough about the outcome. Sometimes they’re hard because they’re too big. Sometimes we just want the decision to be made for us. And sometimes, we know that the decision should wait because the indifference we feel will lead to a poor choice.

We’re scared of making mistakes, you see. They validate the thoughts of being worthless, useless, hopeless and helpless. They give depression fuel. Mistakes hurt us. Our confidence, in ourselves, is at an all-time low. The grey, muddy filter that depression adds to our outlook, only serves to make all choices, not-so-great ones.

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This content was originally published here.