The WHO website has a section on depression discussing symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. However, this essay is a personal perspective on what depression feels like.
The first thought that pops up when you hear the word ‘depressed’ is ‘sad’. Understandable, because depression does lead to sadness, or maybe sadness leads to depression. It’s a chicken and egg situation and thinking of the two as the same makes things easier.
Depression is a feeling, condition, problem, disorder, illness, or moronic move by the brain that can wreck your life because it turns your brain against itself. Your brain, which is the crux of who you are, becomes your enemy.
It makes you feel every possible negative emotion- sadness, fear, anger, guilt, shame, hate. And apparently that’s not enough, because your brain also likes to add a dash of occasional numbness to make the situation harder.
Depression feels like suffocating under the heavy weight of your emotions. Or being stranded out in the middle of the ocean with no lifejacket or possibility of help.
A stomach pain is easy to describe and treat.
A mental pain, which is what depression essentially is, is hard to explain because of its emotional origin, magnitude, and stigma. And sometimes you just don’t want to talk about it.
It feels like too much effort and pain, an unnecessary action when you know the depression won’t go away.
Depression feels like loneliness.
You think your situation is unique.
Nobody else knows what it feels like. Nobody else could possibly understand.
You start pulling away from the people around you.
You think you’re so messed up and pathetic that you would rather not ‘infect’ those around you with your misery.
Depression feels like a joyless existence.
It’s hard to laugh and sometimes even harder to cry.
You can’t appreciate the good parts of life because it’s all a sea of negativity or numbness.
The will to live and function as a regular human being is non-existent. Just the thought of getting out of bed is enough to drain the energy you need to actually get out of bed.
Life becomes a haze of repetitive motions and unspoken fears.
Depression feels like shame
Shame over finding yourself in this situation. Shame over being weak.
Shame over the failures you faced due to the impact of depression on your daily functioning. Shame over seeking help.
Shame over the inability to ‘get over it’.
Depression feels like guilt.
Guilt over the idea that you’re depressed while other people in the world are in a tougher situation than you.
Guilt over how your depression makes the people around you feel. Guilt over how hard you find normal tasks.
Guilt over the inability to ‘get over it’.
Depression feels like your soul is at war.
It can be a state of contradictions.
You feel too much – too much sadness, shame, fear, guilt.
You feel too little- brain fog, numbness to success and failure.
An amalgamation of aggressive negative emotions and waves of numbness. They egg each other on.
They make you feel everything and nothing. They war with each other and your day depends on which one wins out. Do I live my day in the company of sadness, fear, anger? Or do I shut down and hide away with the emptiness?
And finally, depression feels like grief.
You’re grieving a part of yourself that was lost to a deep dark hole. It’s never coming back, and you will never be whole again. Maybe going through that misery made you less than a person. And maybe you deserve it for being that weak, for falling for that trap, for not working harder to get out of it. But you can never imagine not feeling that grief over the normal person you used to be.
What I find most fascinating about depression is that it can mean so many different things to different people. It’s not linear in its manifestation, and neither is recovery.
Recovery goes up-down, front-back, wherever it needs to go and wherever you can take it. It’s a rollercoaster that never ends. It’s a maze with no exit. But it is possible, and that’s the only thing that should matter.
Thank you for reading. Please share this article if you liked it!
Therapy can be really good for the brain and soul!
Please reach out to a professional if you don’t feel okay. There is no shame in it, and they can truly help you feel better.
Resources – https://theauthenticdialogue.com/resources/