This Is What Depression Actually Feels Like

Lately, I've had many conversations with people about what depression is like. Those who haven't gone through it find it very difficult to understand how it actually feels, and they struggle to figure out how to help a loved one who's suffering from it. Let me say it outright: It's very difficult to help someone with depression. So if you're giving yourself a hard time because you don't know how to support someone, give yourself some love instead. It takes time.

The best way I've found to describe what depression feels like is through a metaphor: It's like eating something and not being able to taste it (sometimes literally), or like looking at a colourful image and not being able to see the colours. You know the flavours and colours are there... but you just can't taste or see them. 

But today I was looking through my files and I found a text I wrote years ago when I was starting to come out of a depression. So I thought of sharing it to help people understand it a bit better, to let those affected by it know they are not alone, and to remind them there is hope. I promise it can get better.

(Bear in mind this is my own personal vision of it. This is how I've experienced it, but it can look different for others). 

Looking at depression through the eyes of the depressed:

Depression is strange. It can take so many forms. It creeps up undetected and slowly takes over your mind and body until it strips them of life. 

Your limbs feel as heavy as your thoughts and getting up means climbing a mountain and going out means plodding through twenty-four deserts with the sole wish to get back home. 

It makes everything gloomy and I don't mean that as a metaphor. It can alter your vision and make you believe walls are darker than they really are and the light outside is not bright enough. 

The mirror becomes the enemy and the reflection on it is a stranger you don't want to see. 

Food becomes secondary. Your lifeless mind seems to think your lifeless body is nourished when in reality you're just eating four times less than what you're supposed to eat. An empty fridge is not a good enough reason to do groceries as doing groceries requires too much energy. 

On a good day, there's a spark of life and there's laughter sometimes and the sky looks lighter. 

On a bad day, there's hopelessness and emptiness and at times some sort of sadness that eats you from inside with desperation until you cry. You cry because you think it's the only way to get rid of the pain that has settled in your chest. But it doesn't go away. It only transforms into something more bearable, like numbness. 

Your bed is now the only place you want to be. You know there's something better out there but your lifeless body refuses to move and your lifeless mind convinces you it's safer here. 

Seeking help is not an option because a little voice inside your head has made you believe there's no hope for you, that you're not worth it, that you deserve the burden you're carrying but you mustn't be a burden to anyone else, that it's easier to stay in the dark than struggle towards the light.  

A reaching hand means the world to you but you're too scared and too tired to grab it. And if there's yelling you just shrink more and more, wishing to disappear like a drop of water on a hot surface. But you know your body is too solid to dissolve in the scenery even though you just feel like a flickering shadow. 

And the days pass but you live in a world where time and space are meaningless. There's just a bleak void where you sit alone wondering if it's permanent. But if you manage to take a step outside you may be able to look forward. And if you stay out of the void long enough you'll be able to look back and see the darkness you left behind. And perhaps you'll miss the strange comfort the old numbness provided, but a part of you will not want to fall in the hole again. And you'll know there's hope, and you'll know you're worthy, and you'll know you don't deserve the burden that you've carried for so long.

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