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A Framework To Help You Better Understand Depression

A Framework To Help You Better Understand Depression

Because depression can be so difficult to understand, we’re guessing that if we asked you to draw a picture of it right now, that it would look like this big, tangled ball of confusion:

Understanding Your Depression Through The Storm To Sun Framework

As we hear from people in our community every single day, it can be really hard to depict depression in any other way, and as we think you'll agree, the reason why is because at its core, depression is very, very difficult to explain and understand.

After all, depression is so much more than sadness, because while sadness is a temporary emotion, depression is an illness that's far, far, far more consuming and longer lasting.

It’s also difficult and confusing to describe depression by its symptoms as well, since its symptoms are so often seemingly contradictory. For example, people with depression may experience rapid weight gain or drastic weight loss; they may have days where they sleep the whole time and nights when they can’t sleep at all; they can feel extremely lonely yet still not want to see anyone; and within hours of feeling “almost normal”, it’s possible to feel consumed with misery.

And, because depression can affect you in so many ways – since it has the power to deeply impact you cognitively, emotionally, behaviourally, environmentally, as well as leave you feeling completely and utterly drained and exhausted – it can be very difficult to be able to clearly comprehend your depression yourself, let alone try to explain it to anyone else.

For these reasons, it’s extremely common to be left thinking of depression as that big, illogical ball of confusion we depicted above. And, the longer and longer you endure it, the more and more disoriented, uncertain and overwhelmed you’re likely to be, and the harder and harder depression tends to become to escape.

The Two Big Problems With This "Current Picture Of Depression"

Of course, there are a lot of problems that stem from this "current picture of depression", but arguably the two most tragic ones are that it results in:

1. An Extreme Lack Of Support For People With Depression

This is because when people with depression lack a clear, simple way to articulate how terrible this condition is making them feel and all of the ways that it’s impacting them, they’re forced to default to saying something like, for example:

  • "I feel so tired"

  • "I'm really miserable"

  • "I'm overwhelmed"

  • "I can’t think clearly"

  • "Everything feels so hard"

And, while these explanations are all of course true, they also don't encapsulate just how debilitating, all-consuming and life-affecting depression can be. Consequently, rather than helping the people around them to better understand their depression, these comments can leave the recipient thinking, for example:

  • "Big deal, I'm tired too!"

  • "I've also been miserable and overwhelmed – just pull yourself together!"

  • "We all have bad days now and again."

  • "You just need to think more positively!"

And of course, if this happens to you, then rather than feeling supported, you’re instead likely to feel judged, misunderstood, lonely, and even more depressed than you already were.

2. This "Current Picture Of Depression" Leads To A Lack Of Clarity Regarding What Steps You Need To Take In Order To Get Better

If you don't have a clear understanding of how your depression is affecting you, then it can be really, really hard for you to know what steps you need to take and what treatment you need to receive in order to get better. And, if this is the case, then attempting to overcome depression can feel akin to trying to hit a bulls-eye with a bow-and-arrow when you're blindfolded, have been spun around 100 times, and have no idea where the target even was to begin with. Naturally, this is liable to leave you feeling exhausted; hopeless; and to ultimately conclude that you're destined to struggle with depression for the rest of your life.

A Helpful Solution: The "Storm To Sun" Framework

We hope you agree with us when we say that we need a much, much clearer picture of depression. In particular, we need one that:

  1. Depicts depression simply – yet accurately – while also capturing depression’s "complexity" – i.e. the fact that at times, depression is misery, overwhelm, an inability to get out of bed and so much more, for example; whereas at other times depression’s symptoms are much milder, and you’re able to function properly, be sociable, and feel energetic and happy.

  2. We need something that allows depression to be described and understood in a way that results in people with depression receiving the support they need – instead of resulting in them feeling judged, misunderstood and alone.

  3. We need something that makes it simple for people with depression to know the ways in which their illness is affecting them – and even more importantly, what they need to do to combat it at any point in time, as well as what to do to eventually overcome- and break free from depression.

And so, we created the "Storm To Sun Framework" – which is a ground-breaking system that believe it or not, actually helps solve all of these problems!

A Framework To Help You Better Understand Depression

Before we show you how the Storm To Sun Framework can make it much, much easier for you to understand your depression, know how to get better, and have an easier way to explain your depression to get the support you need, let us first quickly break down each of these three zones for you.

The Cloud Zone

  • Intensity of Symptoms: Low

  • Ability to Function: High

This is when the symptoms of your depression are mild. When you’re in this Zone:

  • Your feel more or less “normal” – in the sense that your days are only minimally impacted by depression.

  • You're able to function relatively well and fulfil your responsibilities (such as going to work, taking care of your children, etcetera) without becoming easily tired.

  • In the Cloud Zone, your motivation is at its highest due to your symptoms being at their mildest – so you're most able to do the things that you may've been putting off doing while your symptoms were more severe.

  • You're also much more likely to want to socialise with friends and family and interact with other people.

The Rain Zone

  • Intensity of Symptoms: Moderate

  • Ability to Function: Moderate

You can think of yourself as being in the Rain Zone when the symptoms of your depression are moderately intense. In this Zone:

  • While you can likely still uphold your responsibilities and carry on with life, you’ll probably get tired much quicker than you otherwise would.

  • Feeling burned out is common, and you’re prone to snapping easily.

  • Socialising and/or interacting with others – while possible – often feels too draining.

  • At any point in time, the “rain” may deteriorate into a "storm" – i.e., you may find yourself slipping from the Rain Zone into the Storm Zone (see below).

The Storm Zone

  • Intensity of Symptoms: Severe

  • Ability to Function: Low

This is when the symptoms of your depression are severe – i.e., when it feels like there’s a storm that's raging in your mind. When you're in this Zone:

  • You’re usually being bombarded with negative thoughts; those negative thoughts are at their most distorted, negative and catastrophic; and you’re at your most attached to those negative thoughts (i.e. more so than at any other time, you believe them to be true).

  • The difficult, painful emotions that you feel when you’re depressed are at their most intense – i.e. you’re feeling at your most miserable, worthless, unmotivated, numb, irritable, angry, ashamed, lonely, misunderstood, isolated, regretful, hopeless, and/or filled with grief, for example.

  • Your ability to function is significantly compromised – to such an extent that fulfilling your day-to-day responsibilities can feel unmanageable (and often are); and even simple tasks like getting out of bed or having a shower may feel like climbing a mountain.

  • Because your symptoms are so intense, it's common to socially withdraw - and if you do happen to be interacting with someone, it’s common to at times shut down and become non-communicative.

  • In the “Storm Zone”, it’s common to feel so miserable, broken, and hopeless that you’re unable to envision the storm ever passing.

Your "New Picture Of Depression"!

Like we've alluded to, at any point in time, you may find yourself in the Storm Zone, the Rain Zone, or the Cloud Zone of the Storm To Sun Framework – and how much time you spend in each zone will give you a very clear picture of your depression!

The Storm To Sun Framwork - Your Picture Of Depression

What Does Your "Depression Pie Chart" Look Like?

It's really useful to understand how your "depression pie chart" looks and to be able to identify which Zone you're in at any point in time. This is because once you have this clear picture of your depression in mind (as opposed to that tangled ball of confusion), then all of a sudden:

  1. It becomes easier for your loved ones to understand your depression and to support you through it - like we talk about in the second blog post in this Storm To Sun Framework Series titled A Framework To Help You Get The Support You Deserve For Depression.
  2. How to treat your depression also becomes clearer as well - like we talk about in the third and final blog post in this Storm To Sun Framework Series titled A Blueprint For How To Fight Depression.

We really hope that you've found this first blog post in this series helpful, and that you now have a clearer picture of your depression :)

All our love,

The Depression Project Team.

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