Everyone experiences emotional pain, and sometimes that pain can be very difficult to bear. However, I posit that people with depression experience exaggerated emotional pain. Depression causes emotional pain in and of itself, of course, but what I’m talking about is regular, everyday emotional pain being exaggerated because of depression. This is similar to how depression worsens physical pain, which I have written about before.
Depression and Emotional Pain
As I said, depression causes emotional pain. It does this through several means. It does it directly through a depressed and sad mood, it does it through guilt, it does it through feelings of worthlessness, it does it through anhedonia (an inability to experience pleasure) and it does it through obsessive thoughts of suicide, among other things.1 All those things are extremely difficult to bear. And a person with depression may experience them every single day. Believe me when I tell you, we don’t have a single spoon left with which to deal with additional pain.
Exaggerated Emotional Pain Because of Depression
But on top of that, what I’ve noticed is that depression exaggerates emotional pain from other sources. For example, if you break up with your partner, depression is going to make you take it much harder than you otherwise would. Even something simple like a misunderstanding with a friend can feel like the end of the world with depression. I think of it like this: If emotional pain were on a scale from one to 10, we experience the ones, twos, threes, of emotional pain all the time from the little things that happen to us every day. Unfortunately for people with depression, those ones, twos, and threes feel like sixes, sevens, and eights. It’s like someone takes the nick on your skin and yanks it wide open and spills your blood everywhere.
And, yeah, this hurts. It’s genuine, horrible, emotional pain that we have to deal with and it doesn’t help that other people look at us like we’re crazy because we get so upset over things that are so little.
Depression and Exaggerated Emotional Pain
But here’s the thing to remember: When you feel emotional pain that isn’t reasonable for the given situation, it’s not you, it’s the depression. It’s not that you can’t handle hard events or emotional pain, it’s that what you’re feeling is pain that is very hard to handle. Yes, I know that other people deal with an everyday nick with a small Band-Aid, but you may not be able to do that. You may need stitches or even a tourniquet. And this is not your fault. This is the depression beating you when you’re down — which depression absolutely loves to do.
I say this all now because I have to remember it myself. I have to remember that even though I feel like a delicate flower made of the thinnest glass, that’s not really me, that’s what depression forces me to seem like. The real me, the real Natasha, is strong and powerful and deals with more pain before breakfast than most people do on an average week. I am amazing.
And people who live with chronic depression are amazing because of how they are able to handle emotional pain, not to mention exaggerated emotional pain every single day. Remember, the people around you have no idea the battle you’re fighting. They can’t necessarily see the warrior you are. But that’s why it’s up to us to make sure we see and thank our own warriors.
So if you’re in pain, and you feel like it’s exaggerated emotional pain because of depression, just know that you’re not alone. Use all your coping skills, talk to a therapist, vent with friends, do whatever you need to, but just know that the depression is not you no matter how much pain it inflicts and how seductively it says you’re broken. You not. You’re sick. And you’re fighting. And you’re amazing.
- Soreff, S., Bipolar Disorder Clinical Presentation. Medscape, Updated May 30, 2019.
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