April 18th, 2011

Helen Parks: Sometimes I’m in my room, in my chair, and I think about the people in all the stages of this disease and the people who have left the world with this disease. And I wonder what I’m going to do when I get sicker. I get confused. I get drastic thoughts. I sit in my chair and cry. I get real depressed.     Steven Charles: I think, maybe they’ll come up with something that will help, but I don’t think so. You start to wonder why you’re going to the doctor, why take the medication, why fight for another month, another year, just to be sick longer.     What Depression Feels Like-Depression is one of the most painful feelings a person can have. People say they feel alone and helpless in an indifferent world. They say they lose interest in things, have no energy, feel generally tired. They doubt themselves or blame themselves or feel they have failed. Like Helen, they have “drastic thoughts”: they think about dying, sometimes about killing themselves. Sometimes depression affects not only the mind, but also the body. Some people report they cannot think as clearly or quickly as they used to. Some stop eating, others eat too much. Some cannot sleep, others sleep too often. In general, people dealing with depression say they are mostly sad and lonely, and they often cry a lot: “For a while, I cried all the time,” said Lisa Pratt. “I didn’t want to cry in front of my family. I cried when I was alone—in the car, in the shower.”     At bottom, depression seems to be the absence of hope. Hope is the sense that life is good, that it holds comforts and delights, that what you do makes a difference, that one way or another things will be all right. Sometimes, for a while, this sense of hope fails you. “What good are all my comforts, my things?” said Alan Madison, who for a long time had spent his extra money on collecting art from the 1920s. “I’ve always worked for comfort in my old age. Now maybe I’m not going to be old. I’ve always thought, next year it’ll be different. I’ll get a new haircut, be more outgoing. Now maybe I have no next year.”     Faced with hopelessness, people feel helpless. They feel they have no alternative but to continue feeling depressed. They feel they no longer have the power to change how they act or how they feel. Some people, especially early in the course of the infection, consider suicide.     Depression varies in intensity and duration. Sometimes it is a mild feeling of being “down.” Sometimes it is severe, and feels like despair.     For most people, depression comes and goes: “I get bouts of these depressions,” says Steven. The bouts can last a few hours, a few weeks, a few months.

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This entry was posted on Monday, April 18th, 2011 at 6:21 am and is filed under HIV. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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