What is depression
Life in South Africa can result in us having good and bad feelings. Sometimes we feel happy and sometimes we feel sad. However, when these sad feelings carry on for longer periods and interfere with the person’s ability to perform his responsibilities at home and at work, then that person could be suffering from a serious illness namely depression.
I have suffered from depression for the majority of my adult life. During this time, I have experienced much pain and suffering from the illness that affected all aspects of my life. There were many times that thoughts of suicide were constantly in my mind.
But I persevered and have lived to tell my story, a story of hope and happiness. Over the years I have learned to cope, by looking out for the signs of depression and getting immediate treatment for it.
The signs are important to all South Africans since we all confronted by stressors such as crime, violence, family abuse, rape, HIV/Aids, unemployment, retrenchment and the like.
I invite you to follow the signs of depression with me, the educator.
It is difficult to become aware that you are slowing down. I take action when I become less active at home and at work. I lost interest in the learners and what they were doing. This had to be a sign to family and co-workers that something was wrong with me.
Lack of interest and motivation
I lost complete interest in what was expected of me as an educator. There was no clarity in my thoughts to the extent that I could not see any good in what I had experienced in the past.
This was one of the most difficult features of my depression to handle. I felt tired on waking in the morning and had no energy to see me through the day. If you are an active individual and you become slowed down by tiredness you need urgent medical attention.
As soon as my pattern of sleep is disrupted, I take immediate action. Waking up in the early hours of the morning and taking a long time to fall asleep means trouble of insomnia. See a doctor immediately.
Poor concentration and memory
This factor had a very painful effect on me as an educator. It was very difficult for me to concentrate in order to prepare my lessons. It was ever more difficult to present it to the class.
Disturbance with the appetite
Depression goes hand in hand with one eating too much or too little. With my depression, I lost my appetite to the extent that I stopped eating. The desire and need to eat was completely absent. This situation is very serious as it could lead to other physical ailments and even destroying yourself.
Frequent thoughts about death and dying and particularly suicidal thoughts need drastic action. When I was thinking about suicide, I contacted members of my support group immediately.
My mood and daily vision, which had been bright, can become dark and dismal. Going to bed at night was a frightening experience as I hoped I would never wake up. Action need to be taken immediately.
Reduction in sex drive
It is a serious problem, which must be handled with insight, understanding and maturity.
When I am very depressed, I am overcome with a feeling of hopelessness and worthlessness. The large classes, the undisciplined pupils, poor motivation and lack of concentration gave me a sense of hopelessness. I felt that there was no way out. I then knew I needed help.
Loss of self-esteem
When I start feeling no good and think that I am a failure, I realise that I am on the road of a bout of depression.
Throughout my years as a depression sufferer, I have been sensitive to the signs, which I have mentioned above.
From a medical point of view, a person can be considered depressed, if they have at least five of the signs mentioned above. Everyone must take swift action when they, a friend or a colleague is affected by depression. You can learn to cope with depression. There is hope.