Depression – the dark that casts our joy into the shadows

 ‘’The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it.

It is the fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows’’

(Brenè Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection)

We all get down days - feeling grumpy, narky, irritable and they can last for a few days. Sometimes we know why, sometimes we just don’t, and that is ok, normal and healthy. Even though there is the expectation that life should always be happy and good. Goodness me aren’t we bombarded by those messages? Happiness is everywhere we look - TV, advertising, social media etc.

But, depression is more than feeling unhappy, down or low for a few days. Depression is when you feel persistently sad for weeks and months at a time with an underlying sense of unhappiness, hopelessness and being on the brink of tears. The life messages we see and hear all the time ‘that life is great’ do not help us, in fact they make us feel worse – as it feels like nothing can lift the depression. We don’t even understand why we feel like this, so how can we start to feel better?

When life feels too hard there is an almost unreal sense of ‘going through the motions’. Physically, it is tough too –

  • feeling constantly tired - like you are walking through treacle
  • thoughts are heavy - a fog in the mind
  • sleep is difficult
  • appetite is erratic
  • sex drive is diminished
  • body feels heavy with muscular and joint pain

Emotionally and physically depleted, there is the expectation to continue to appear happy or, at least, ok. Despite real internal anguish and suffering, a mask is worn to protect us from the judgement of others. The conflict between the internal experience of ourselves and the external presentation to others is exhausting. It makes us feel ‘not ourselves’ – because we are not, we are pretending.

Depression is a serious mental health issue that can vary in its degree of severity, from feeling persistently low in spirit to feeling suicidal.

What causes depression:

  1. Family history

If someone in your close family has experienced depression, there is an increased chance that you may also develop it

  1. Life changing events

Life is full of change that can be extremely stressful – bereavement, relationship breakup, becoming a parent, redundancy etc. These can be traumatic times and can develop into depression

  1. Loneliness

Being and feeling isolated can trigger feelings of depression

  1. Alcohol & drugs

Substances are sometimes used to numb uncomfortable feelings, and when used too frequently this can result in a spiral of depression and addiction

  1. Illness

Living with a chronic or life threatening illness increases the susceptibility to depression 

The Mental Health Foundation have shown that approximately 20% of the UK population aged 16 and over have shown symptoms of depression and the World Health Organisation states that depression is the second largest cause of years lived with a disability worldwide.

So, what can you do?

The most useful thing may feel like the hardest thing to do – to reach out to someone and talk. Expressing vulnerability to another person is a big and brave step. That person needs to be someone you trust will listen to you and hear what you are saying. Being told ‘it’s ok, just be positive’, will not help. If you prefer to speak to someone on a professional basis make an appointment with your GP, HR manager or a qualified counsellor. For useful tips on living with depression, read Natural ways to reduce depression

If this means something to you, please reach out to someone you know you could trust.

I am Jo Tolley and I am a qualified and experienced Counsellor working in private practice near Wimborne and Blandford, Dorset.

For more information about help and support at Moving on Counselling please call me on 07484 184 256, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or complete an enquiry form on the Contact page.

I hope to speak with you soon.