Depression or Sadness?
Clients who come for counselling frequently ask through the course of our meetings ‘am I depressed?’
Although I do see many clients clinically diagnosed as having a depressive illness, I, as a therapist, cannot make a diagnosis. However, I often see clients who feel low, and I can certainly see they have great sadness about their life or events in their life, but are they depressed?
“When you’re depressed, nothing matters.
When you’re sad, everything does.”
Depressed and sad are two very powerful, similar, interconnected words, profound words. If we look more closely at them, we can claim what is true for ourselves and set about transforming depression and sadness into their opposing states.
Depression may be the cousin of sadness, sometimes the defensive response to the inflexibility of sadness, but it makes you feel anything but alive. It dulls, creates heaviness, and messes with your memory of your true essential nature… that of joy.
I’ve been through wrenching heart breaks. I’ve left a very long, deep relationship that is still intertwined with my DNA; been devastated by betrayal; said goodbye to loved ones in life and in death. I’ve cried those deep, gut wrenching cries that are almost animal like. I’ve cancelled meetings and work because grief caught me off guard. I struggled, hour by hour, day by day, to get to tend to life on the surface. Yet through it all, I’ve felt unquestionably, and intensely alive. This is sadness. Acute, lasting, but always sensory and evocative. Sadness.
When you’re sad, you’re feeling, hurting. Sometimes, more than you want to. You wish you could be despondent, but the sadness is sharp and it bleeds your attention from you.
Depression — a term sometimes used much too glibly — dulls one’s feelings.
Where sadness makes you feel raw and skinless, depression is like wearing a snow suit, mask and mittens and wondering why you can’t feel the touch of life.
Sadness strips you. Sadness is cleansing. Depression is muddy, dulling, and numbing.
Depression vs. Sadness
Each comes with different gifts, challenges and obligations
Each have been called a sacred state. Both brutal, both heartless.
But not the same.
When you respect the difference, you’re closer to the cure.
Kind thoughts and love to you all