What Depression is Really Like, Because It's More Than Feeling Sad

Depression isn’t “normal,” it’s not something that everyone can completely comprehend. It’s abstract and subjective, affecting each person it clings to in a different way. There is a general consensus that when someone comes forward as ‘depressed’ it means they’re always sad or they feel as if they’re stuck in a rut that feels impossible to break free from. But the thing is, depression is so much more than just feeling down or stuck. 

When depression takes over, I turn into the opposite I enter a completely opposite state of mind than when I feel well. It’s like falling into a deep dark hole and having no ladder to climb to help you get out of it. I get trapped in the darkness feeling cold and numb. I turn into an evil person and sometimes I say or do things to hurt others, the dark ugly side of me takes over.

Depression is utterly isolating. 

Even if nothing was wrong before the episode, everything seems wrong when it descends. Suddenly, no one seems loving or lovable. Everything is irritating. Work is boring and unbearable. Any activity takes 100x more effort, what was once challenging feels overwhelming; what was sad feels unbearable; what felt joyful feels pleasureless or, at best, a fleeting drop of pleasure in an ocean of pain. 

In a serious state of depression, you become a sort of half-living ghost.

It feels as if you become two-dimensional – like a drawing rather than a living, breathing creature. You cannot conjure your actual personality, which you can remember only vaguely, in a theoretical sense. You crave being your old happy, empathetic, curious, motivated, and friendly self, but that person feels like an acquaintance you can’t even remember the name of. 

There is a heavy, leaden feeling in your chest, like when someone you love dearly has died. But no one has – except, you. When you look in the mirror you see only dead eyes. There is no spark. No joy. No hope. You wonder how you will manage to exist another day. Minutes feel like hours, and hours feel like days, and it feels almost impossible to live a normal life again. 

Inside your mind, there is a constant dark storm.

Depression affects not just the mind but also the body. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep or I sleep too much, I start to stumble when I walk, unable to even walk in a straight line. I am more clumsy and accident-prone and beat myself up because of it. And while I wish I could just “be positive” and “change my thoughts,” it’s a lot easier said than done. The storm mustering in my head is almost impossible to beat, it’s like a tornado reeking havoc on my mind and making a mess of all the things that used to be me. 

The worst part about depression is how the people you once ran to, seem so far away, on the other side of a glass bubble. It makes you feel like no one understands because it’s not a ‘visible disease.’ Depression feels like an intense pain that can’t be identified in any particular part of the body,  It’s difficult to describe all of this in a way that someone who’s never experienced it can make sense of. It’s more painful than any physical pain I’ve ever experienced, and that’s the thing, how do you begin to explain that to someone you love? 

But while I could write a book on how depression feels like, however, there are positive things about depression. It has given me inspiration in ways I wouldn’t have without suffering depression and feeling this much pain, I would never have examined my life closely enough to become a writer. And above all, depression, in nearly all cases, sooner or later lifts, and you become “normal” again. Eventually…

I just wish people would realize that depression is far, far more severe than just “having the blues” or feeling “sad.” It is a soul-sucking, debilitating illness, one that is so severe that it claims nearly a million lives a year worldwide. So, if you know someone who has it, don’t just tell them to “pull themselves together” or to simply “get over it.”

Instead, listen to them. Support them. And most importantly, be their friend.

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