Simple moments that made you happy don't hold your interest anymore.
To others, that smile on your face might seem normal and effortless, but only you know how hard it is to keep it up while you battle an inner emptiness that you can't put into words. There is a dull ache or overwhelming sense of hopelessness that runs as a background static throughout your day and spans across weeks or even months. Sometimes you function optimally, sometimes you struggle to get through the day. But no one really knows that you feel a kind of sadness that never really goes away—an overriding sense of melancholy that is constant.
Melancholic depression is a clinical condition categorized as a major depressive disorder. It is important for you to understand if what you are experiencing is just a phase or something that needs more attention in order to heal.
If you believe your melancholy is content, you might relate to these experiences strongly.
It doesn't matter how amazing other people think you are, but to yourself, it's just not good enough. There's this constant inner voice telling you that you are not smart enough, pretty enough, positive enough, efficient enough to deserve the love and success you desire. These self-doubts and criticism can crop up in a professional setting or in personal relationships. You also tend to internalize other people's reactions as a sign that you are not good enough or worthy of their time or love. It is important to get objective and take a long hard look at this inner critic. You will often find that these are just old tapes from your childhood or past that is being replayed and projected as opinions of others.
There's a constant struggle within you as you contemplate whether you want to be around people or alone. Even when you are surrounded by people, you find yourself feeling distant and aloof. When you do attempt to talk about how you feel, you might feel like the other person just doesn't get it. They may offer solutions or practical tips without realizing how hard it is for you at a more basic level to feel okay. If you feel not heard or seen amidst your loved ones, it hurts you all the more and pushes you to spend time away from them.
You're constantly on the brink of an emotional breakdown. Sometimes, you find yourself tearing up in the middle of a conversation, reacting to your partner or family with an intensity that takes them by surprise, or feel a sudden surge of anger that comes out of nowhere. All these are signs of an overwhelmed nervous system. If you have experienced trauma of any kind, please be kind to yourself and know that these emotional reactions are natural. Just like any physical injury, say a hand fracture, a trauma-impacted brain needs time and assistance to heal and repair itself. Even if you have not experienced any traumatic instances, it is possible that your emotional reaction is due to an underlying imbalance.
Lack of joy for things you once enjoyed is called anhedonia, another symptom of depression. Simple moments that made you happy, like hanging out with friends, reading a book, dancing to some music, or just enjoying a quiet afternoon indoors, don't hold your interest anymore. It is hard for you to feel light and excited, and sometimes even the fun things might seem overwhelming or more like a chore that regret having agreed to do.
There is a sense of mental and physical exhaustion that you can't seem to get rid of. Sometimes, you struggle to get out of bed in the morning. It takes effort to do simple things like making breakfast or taking care of yourself. Your self-care routine is minimal to non-existent. You either have trouble sleeping or even a full night's sleep does nothing to restore your energy. You might also find yourself losing your appetite or eating more than usual to combat your anxiety and the sense of void within. Your body is closely connected to your emotional state. If you have any such physical symptoms, it is important to talk to your GP.
When you look in the mirror, you can't recognize the woman staring back at you. Slumped shoulders, dark circles, a sense of void and hopelessness in the eyes. You look and feel like a remote shadow of your true self, that was once vivacious, bright, and excited. You can't remember when you slowly began to give up on yourself and how long it took for you to feel like nothing will be the same again. Your confidence and self-esteem are low, you doubt your thoughts, feelings, and reactions. You wonder if you can ever feel like the strong girl you once were, before life made you question yourself.
If this is how you've been feeling for a while now, understand that it is time to treat yourself better. It might be easier said than done but the first step is to become aware of it and decide how long you choose to remain in the state. As hard as it might seem, you're not alone and you deserve to feel better.
If you have symptoms of depression or other mental illnesses, please reach out to your local social worker or GP.
National suicide prevention hotline for the US is 1-800-273-TALK, you can reach the Samaritans at 116 123 in the UK. Hotlines for other countries are given here.