More Than You See 3.11 - Is Depression Part of Your Identity?
6:22PM Feb 7, 2022
Hello, everyone, thank you so much for joining me for another episode of the More Than You See podcast hosted by me, actor, filmmaker mental health advocate, Deborah Lee Smith. Every Monday, I come to you to share some resources, have a conversation, and generally just dive into all sorts of topics around mental health. I am not a licensed practitioner or therapist, but just a woman exploring my own mental health journey, and sharing it with you, my listeners. My hope is that this podcast brings you some joy, some understanding and some tools so that you can build your own mental health toolbox.
Hello, everyone, thank you so much for joining me for episode 11, season three of the podcast. This starts our last three part series of this season of the podcast, and then we're going to be taking a little break. Now these next three episodes are all going to be a little bit different. But the thing that's going to tie them all together is this idea of identity, and what makes up our identity, how that identity relates to our mental health. And I'm really excited to be diving into this because with each of these episodes, I'm going to center each episode around a specific resource, and how this resource can potentially help us continue to understand ourselves and the world and others better.
So today, we are actually going to start with talking about depression, and specifically how our identity relates to depression. Because I think that a lot of times, myself included, don't want to necessarily put that label on ourselves, or we don't understand how that label fits on us or it doesn't, like it feels very pointed and purposeful to have that label attached to us. But I think that sometimes it is a really important aspect of who we are and how we show up in the world. And so today, I'm specifically going to talk about the difference between being depressed and having clinical depression, and sadness, and how those two different things can relate to your identity, and what tools you can use in order to differentiate between when you are feeling depressed, or when you are feeling sad, and what the difference is between those two. Because I think that again, it's just really important to have, you know, sometimes some deeper understanding and some definitions that might make things more clear to you in some way or the other.
If you did not listen to last episode, I strongly recommend that you do because I think that it very much relates to what we are going to talk about on this episode. In this last episode, I talked with my friend, Shannon Corbeil about her experience going on medication for her mental health and specifically for her depression. And she talks so eloquently about how even though she was like, you know, doing so many things in order to help her depression, it wasn't until she went on this medication that it really allowed her world to open up in a really important way, and allow her experience with the world to change in a really dramatic important way. And that's kind of what I want to go into today. Because sometimes we don't exactly know why we might need to do something like, you know, talk to a doctor about medication and that's what I want to talk about today. You know, what is the baseline and when you are deviating from that baseline what you can potentially do about it.
I want to remind everyone, short little plug, we've got three episodes left of the season, please subscribe, write a review, share all of those sorts of things. It really does help. I've got a lot of really exciting things planned for season four. And I would love to have as many years on the podcast as possible. So if you know you want to just like give me a virtual hug, go ahead and write me a review or share it with a friend or family member that you think might resonate with what I'm chatting about.
Okay, so now let's dive into this discussion about depression and I specifically want to start with the definition of depression in comparison to sadness and what's the difference between experiencing those two things now sharing from personal experience. And this is something that I talked about in the first episode of the podcast, in my own, you know, mental health journey, I knew that I was really experiencing some deep depression, because of how it was affecting my day to day life.
There was a lot of reasons that I was in that dark place, as I talked about in that first episode, but it really, the the understanding of how depression as a aspect of my personality, as an aspect of my identity, and how that was completely keeping me from doing things I love to do - it was keeping me from being productive. I wasn't sleeping well, I wasn't eating well, like, those sorts of things were beyond just a general sadness, and it has really become part of my identity again, and part of who I was. And so that, for me, was really important for me to identify depression, and then go, Okay, this is a part of my identity right now. And now what can I do in order to make sure that this part of my identity doesn't overwhelm the rest of my identity, and I'm still able to, you know, show up for myself and show up for for the world in whatever capacity I can. And that is what led me to start More Than You See, and then eventually starting this podcast, and all these sorts of things.
But whatever my experience was, is probably very different from what your experience might or might not be, which is why I want to again, start with that definition of what actual clinical depression is. Now, I looked for a lot of different definitions of depression. But I found the most helpful examination of sadness versus depression, in an article actually by the Canadian Mental Health Association, in British Columbia. And so I'm going to read directly from that. And I will, of course link to this article in the show notes, if you would like to explore it more.
As explained in this piece, it says that another way that sadness is explained is you know, feeling low, feeling down feeling blue. A lot of times people will misuse the word depression and say that they're feeling depressed. And I know that I have certainly done that as well. And that's why I think that it's so important for us to then also look at, you know, what the actual definition of depression is, because it's, it is different than just that feeling of sadness.
If you have clinical depression, it is a mental illness that affects your mood, it also can affect your body. So it will show up in both physical ways as well as in mental ways. It's a lot more than sadness or low mood. People who experienced depression may feel worthless or hopeless, they might feel unreasonably guilty for showing up in the world. They might feel anger or irritability, it might be hard to concentrate or to make decisions. People lose interest in things that they used to enjoy and might isolate themselves from others physically, they might, you know, just like I was saying have problems with sleep, appetite, energy, and unexplainable aches and pains. Some people may experience difficult thoughts about death or ending their life. And typically, and I've read this and shared this on the podcast before, but if you have feelings of depression that lasts longer than two weeks, and doesn't go away on its own, and impacts your life in a real way, then that is when you are considered as having clinical depression.
So if it's last, if it lasts longer than two weeks, that is an illness that really needs to be addressed on a deeper level. And I think that this is where again, if you go back to the last episode, where Shannon shares that, you know, she was doing so many different things in order to work through her depression. But it wasn't until she went on medication, that she was able to really start to show up in the world for herself without that weight on her shoulders. That was depression. And of course, she still has some, you know, experience with depression and difficult, you know, ways that we show up in the world. But that medication has allowed her to kind of take a step back some from that, which I think is really, really important. So again, I think like, you know, let's, let's examine this again as part of your identity.
So what is it to be depressed and what is it to be sad and I think that the biggest thing between the two of them is whether or not it affects your life in such an impactful way that other people notice, and that it becomes a part of who you are. And there is no judgment or anything that I am putting on anyone. Again, as I shared in the beginning of this episode, and as I've shared many times, throughout this podcast, I have certainly gone through periods, where I have felt very depressed for four weeks at a time, and, and have worked with my therapist in order to get through those times. But I think that it is very important to identify if that is part of your identity at that moment, and in that space and time, and then be able to show up for yourself and figure out a way through it. Because the thing is, is that there's always a way through, I know that sometimes when you are in a period of depression, it feels like it is never ending, and that the loneliness and the feeling unworthy of showing up in the world that that can just feel never ending. I understand that feeling. But I'm also here to share that that is not true. It isn't never ending, it is something that you can get through.
And I think that it's also really important to acknowledge that oftentimes, in our society, we have this idea that we need to always feel happy, you know, positive toxicity, like this idea that that we should always have this grandiose, positive, happy life, and that isn't realistic. Every single day, we have things that we potentially will feel disappointed by or upset by, or just things that don't necessarily go our way. We don't show up for ourselves or for others the way that we wish that we could have. And there's nothing wrong with that. That's just part of being human. And I think that it's just so important for us to acknowledge that sometimes when you are in a period of depression, those minor things can then trigger bigger and bigger spirals about your life and how you're showing up in the world and all those sorts of things, as Shannon explains on the last episode.
And so I think that it's so important for someone you know, yourself - myself - to identify whether depression is part of your identity. And that way, when you end up being triggered by things that are going on in your life, that you can acknowledge that in yourself, and know that however you're feeling right now, is not how you're going to feel forever, even if it feels that way. And that there is light at the end of this proverbial tunnel. I also want to acknowledge the importance of getting to a state of neutrality, and to a state of stable contentedness with our lives. I know that this is something that I've talked to my therapist about in many different sessions about this idea of not focusing on necessarily feeling those highs to such an extreme point that when you're feeling low, you end up feeling debilitated. And I know that that really is something that I have worked on myself in absolutely celebrating myself and absolutely celebrating, you know, exciting and high periods in my life. But also acknowledging that they may also lead to a low period, or because you're feeling so high that when you are next feeling sad, you will feel low, even more.
I mean, this is something that we see a lot unfortunately, with celebrities and people that are, you know, public figures. Like these are the people that we see the headlines about who aren't finding ways to cope with those high highs and those low lows and end up leading to dying by suicide or overdoses or any of that kind of thing because people are chasing that high. And unfortunately, just like celebrities are not alone in this. Like, we all have these experiences as well. They're just the ones that necessarily might be getting the press about it. But again, this is just to remind you that you are not alone in your feelings, you're not alone in your experience. And that if this is part of your identity, I do think that it's important to know that. So that way you can, you know, build the tools, to work through it, and to recognize it in yourself, and to acknowledge that we are all so individual with how we show up in the world, and how depression affects us how anxiety affects us, all of those sorts of things.
And as I said, the next three episodes are going to be all about identity. And with each episode, I'm going to center it around a specific resource. And so today's specific resource that I want to leave everyone with is a depression test. This is something that you can get from a doctor from a therapist, but there's also some really reputable depression tests online. I'm going to link to a few of them again, in the show notes. In particular, I have one from Mental Health America. And in this test, it basically asks you some questions. And if you speak truthfully, and think about yourself, and think about your identity, and again, how you're showing up in the world, and all those sorts of things, I think that it's really a very wonderful resource and shows you what or how much depression is affecting you, and whether or not this is something that you should potentially go get a clinical diagnosis of, or whether you are someone who was just leaning more towards the sadness side of things, again, looking at that sadness versus depression.
And no matter what aspect of your identity however, this shows up, it's just a part of you. And it's, I think that it's wonderful. And I hope that this episode reminds you just how vastly different we all are from each other. But it's just so incredibly important for us to acknowledge this side of ourselves. I know that when I really acknowledged the side of myself, that gave me a real sense of power and understanding when it came to my own identity. And I hope that by taking one of these tests that I link to in the notes, that it will give you a sense of power and understanding and identity as well.
Again, thank you so much for joining me for these conversations. I am really looking forward to the last three episodes. And if there is an aspect of identity that you want me to cover in the next two episodes, please let me know I am always accessible by Instagram if you want to slide into More Than You See's, DMS or into my DMs. I always love hearing from the listeners.
Please be kind to yourself this week. Please take that test if you find that might be a tool that will be of service to you. Please remember that you and everyone around you is more than you see. Thank you so much for listening, and I will see you again next week.