When Grief Looks and Feels Like Depression
A few weeks ago, I had to put my 18-year-old cat, Yoshi, to sleep. Since then, I’ve been in mourning. All my coping mechanisms have disappeared, and the slightest thing — a picture, a smell, or even a clicking sound, will be a painful reminder he’s no longer here.
I’m not holding it together well.
Grief has taken over my brain function as a conductor on a train, and at any minute, it may drive me over the edge of a mountain.
My mental health is suffering — my thinking isn’t rational, my emotions erratic, and when I try to imagine a world without Yoshi, I don’t want to be part of it.
I cry the kind of tears which start of nowhere and escalate until I’m screaming at an unseen enemy.
My body feels as if it’s burning from the inside out and trying to purge itself of sadness.
Some days I just feel nothing and have no energy.
I’m sad and filled with hopelessness, but it’s not clinical depression. I’m grieving, and it’s a disturbing kind of grief known as Complicated Grief (CG) or Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder. But knowing it’s not technically depression doesn’t help me feel better.
Grief and depression could pass for twins.
I have trouble getting out of bed and doing regular activities; I feel hopeless and don’t want to see anyone — all common signs of depression.
However, depression is a reaction to a chemical imbalance in the brain and is a serious mood. Grief is a direct response to a loss and the penetrating pain that comes with it.
I may feel sad for a long time, but the intensity of my feelings should lessen over time.
There’s no judgment regarding depression as opposed to grief; it’s helpful to know the differences to get the right kind of care.
If I were clinically depressed, it’d be something I’d manage — either with therapy, medication, or both, for the rest of my life. It’s a small comfort knowing I won’t feel this destroyed forever.
People who have depression can be more resistant to accepting help or support from others and may have more difficulty doing everyday tasks such as going to work or school than someone who’s grief-stricken.
Yoshi had a lot of fur, and there are tufts everywhere — I’m not vacuuming because I don’t want to suck up any of the last signs of when he was alive. I washed a blanket that he slept on and saved what was in the lint trap.
I’m behaving erratically, but how else can I act when everything stopped making sense, and no color was left to brighten up my world?
I have greater empathy for those with depression because I’m experiencing it too.
The best thing to do when dealing with either grief or depression is to stay connected to people and accept the help and support they offer.
Don’t force it, but if you can, make positive lifestyle changes such as exercising more often, going outside, and working off the belief that things will get better. Also, remember that there are medical professionals who can help you manage your mental health and will listen when you’re ready to talk about what you’re going through.