Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Depression: What Does It Feel Like?

This is a post I wrote six months ago exploring depression. At the time I wrote this one, I posted Depression: An Update.
Photo by micheile henderson on Unsplash
Depression is an insidious disease. Mental illness and pain are liars. I battle with multiple diseases, which has taught me that you can't always see the depth and intensity of pain another is going through.

The ways I've learned to cope with and survive depression, anxiety, pain further complicate things because one part of that is that I hide it. Not consciously, most of the time. But, I've become a master at hiding pain (of all kinds). It's so engrained in how I move through life, that it's mostly been through feedback from other people that I've really seen how "well" I do it.

For example, my therapist said that it was difficult for her when we first started meeting because my demeanor and my words weren't aligned. I was sitting in front of her, completely put together, while my words were filled with pain and despair.

Hearing that others typically don't see the chaos inside of me is bittersweet. I want to be seen and known. I think we all do. Yet, much of the pain I experience is invisible.

In an effort to pull back the curtain, both on depression as a disease and on my personal experience with it, I explored the question: What does depression feel like?

It's a question I wish there was a simple answer to, but the answer is as complex as the disease and people that face it. I've experienced depression in more ways than I can even recall. Here are some descriptions that come to mind.
  • Apathy
  • Nothing matters... yet everything matters (depression + anxiety)
  • Emptiness
  • Anguish
  • Despair
  • Heavy darkness
  • Weighted blanket over everything
  • Trying to walk in quicksand
  • Drowning in the depths of the ocean
  • Carrying a boulder
  • Fatigue and lack of motivation
  • Breathing takes everything you have
  • Spiraling into the abyss
  • Gasping for breath, while an elephant is on your chest
  • Moving in slow motion
  • Thoughts out of my control
  • Stuck in a nightmare or twilight zone
  • Sleepwalking
  • Endless blackness / darkness
  • Tunnel
  • Spiral
  • Deep dark pit
  • Perpetual 
What does depression feel like for you?

"That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious—and it compounds daily—making it impossible to ever see the end. That fog is like a cage without a key.” - Elizabeth Wurtzel

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