A New Name for that Place Between Sadness and Depression

Do you think you’re depressed?

People ask me that sometimes. Friends. Family. Even some ballsy people who don’t know me very well.

My immediate response is usually, No. Occasionally, I add something like: I’m just working through some things.

How could I be depressed? Depressed people don’t get out of bed and shower and put on clean clothes and go to work. Depressed people don’t dance when a good song comes on or sleep out for Hamilton tickets or go to Red Sox games. Depressed people don’t host holiday parties and laugh around the campfire.

Do they?

Sure, sometimes I leave the house at midnight for McDonald’s fries because I haven’t eaten since breakfast, and then I drive around blaring music and singing/crying/screaming along at the top of my lungs until 3:00 a.m. But that’s just me being weird.

Photo by me! Copyright: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

And it’s true that most mornings I don’t want to get out of bed, but I’m not a morning person. I get up and then I find staying in one place impossible. I have to keep moving, go somewhere, do something else. I’m too anxious and restless to be depressed.

Some days there is this emptiness, like a vacuum, in my chest, and it’s worse when I cry, which I do a little bit every day and a lot other days. But that’s nothing new, really.

Yeah, I find myself asking things like: Does life matter? Do I matter? Is any of this even real? Because time and existence and consciousness are all a bit far-fetched. But who doesn’t wonder about that?

To me, depression has always been the label for people who are so emotionally tanked they can’t keep a job or take care of their kids or take care of themselves. I know people who have struggled with that kind of depression. It is no joke. So why would I dare compare my (what I assume will be) temporary affliction to their suffering?

I’m not saying I’m above the label of depression. I’ve lived with anxiety disorder all my life and I share pretty openly about that. And in recent years, thanks to an abundance of articles about mental health, I’ve learned a lot about depression. I’ve learned that depression that won’t go away doesn’t always look like a non-functioning adult. Depression can look a lot like me.

At the same time, I don’t want to do a disservice to the understanding of depression, the range of symptoms and severity, and the reality of what it means to be incapacitated by the condition. I think that labeling every level of persistent sadness “depression” may do more harm than good.

I feel like I need a different name for whatever I have – something between sadness and depression. So when people ask, Do you think you’re depressed? I can answer, Nah, just got a little Eeyoreosis. No worries.This way I can simultaneously inform people that yes, I am so sad that I physically hurt but no, you don’t have to worry about me taking my own life tonight.

Seriously though, maybe we need a depression spectrum – kind of like they have for autism. But not to peg people to a specific place on the spectrum, so we know what to expect of them at all times! Rather, I think a spectrum approach would enable us, as a community, to acknowledge and remind one another that depression is different for all people; depression is fluid – meaning it often changes in intensity day by day; and even that depression has a wide range of closely associated symptoms such as anxiety, fatigue, digestive issues, and so on. Like most things in life, depression is not one-size-fits-all.

I guess, as a person who sees in shades of gray, and who has dealt with this from various perspectives, and who really hates labels, I would like us to just do this better.

Thoughts, ideas and suggestions welcome.

© Nichole Q. Perreault

11 thoughts on “A New Name for that Place Between Sadness and Depression

  1. Eeyoreosis- love that term. Yep, depression wears a thousand faces. The spectrum is long- from the blahs & the blues all the way to despair & life is too hard to even keep trying. We are indeed fearfully & wonderfully made. Our body is a complex organism that runs on chemical interactions and electrical and mechanical stimuli. We need
    the right amounts of nutrients, liquids, gases, sunlight, sleep, exercise to function well. Little things like a deficiency of calcium, iron, vitamin D, ot B vitamins can cause depression. Too much
    alcohol can feed depression. Prolonged exposure to harmful electromagnetic fields created by hairdryers, flourescent lamps, vacuum cleaners, microwaves, WiFi, etc. can contribute to depression.
    Then of course there are the disappointments and losses of life. I have to take good care of myself and lean on God and a couple of close friends to stay a step ahead of depression.

  2. I think they call it life! We’re all a little weird, we’re all a little depressed at times, happy at others, cry for no reason, laugh minutes later. The only label I think you need is just “Nichole”. That’s the one everyone is so fond of!

  3. Why am I just hearing the idea of putting depression on a spectrum for the first time? I think it makes so much sense. Appreciate your thoughtful analysis of these types of situations that affect so many, including me.

    • Thanks for reading, Meg. Maybe there are people out there talking about that way already – surely some psychologist somewhere has though of it – but I haven’t come across it yet either!

  4. I agree, it depression should have its own spectrum/degrees, it really does look different for everybody and even at different stages of one persons life.
    Love the term “Eeyoreosis”, instant mind picture shared by all!
    Praying this Eeyoreosis time for you ends soon and you can get back to your “normal” weird self, although even that will look different than before. As life happens we keep getting new norms we just don’t notice it as the change is slow, but when something happens that lasts a bit we find ourselves desiring to “get back to our norm”. We need to recognize that life has moved on and that that norm can not be returned to it will be a new norm and that is OK, it can be just as comfortable as the old normal used to be if we let it.

    • Yes I agree, Margy! I keep coming back to the realization that I will never be the person I was three years ago. The things that worked for me then may not work for me now. And that’s ok. Somewhere there’s a new hallelujah. Even if it’s only on the other side of heaven.

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