You asked me how depression feels, and this is all I could come up with.
It feels like I’m walking upstream through a current strong enough to pull me under four times.
There are others with me but they are walking along the banks telling me to “just get out of the water.” But instead of extending me a hand in help, they just move along and leave me behind.
Every once in a while I find a rock that is strong enough for me to lean on, and I can rest for a bit.
But the rock always gets tired of holding me up, and when they let go, I’m left drowning, thrown 50 ft back again.
And nothing is harder than standing up in that current, when everything in you is telling you how much easier things would be if you just let yourself get dragged under.
Imagine it like this. It’s cold and rainy outside. You’re in the middle of nowhere. You’ve got a convertible. The top’s down. The battery’s dead. You can’t put the top up, you can’t go anywhere, you don’t know when the rain is gonna end. It’s gonna take a toll on your mood, your outlook, even if just temporarily.
Depression does that same thing, but it’s not so nicely temporary. And it burrows its way in deeper than just your mood.
Sweetheart, depression hurts. It hurts bad. Some days are worse than others, and some are intolerable. Especially when I’m all alone and I want so strongly to do something, but my brain tells me to stay where I am and be sad instead.
It’s even worse when I have someone I love worrying about me and trying their best to help, but I just can’t. Leaving the house? Impossible. Taking a shower? Forget it. Putting on actual clothes (that aren’t pajamas)? I can’t imagine it. Admit I need help? Ha, you’re funny.
I have next to no attention span (unless I’m watching one of my three shows). I rarely have energy to do more than I have to. I feel like I’m doing things wrong. I feel like I’m stuck and can’t go anywhere. I frequently see the potential negative aspects of situations. I have so much trouble falling asleep at night. Even when I got enough sleep at night I’m still tired during the day. I snap at people for the smallest things. I constantly fidget. I’m pushing myself to read and write so I’m not just doing nothing all day. I don’t want to have sex. My eating goes to one extreme or the other. My head hurts. My stomach keeps cramping I’ve got a knot in my shoulder that won’t go away. My emotions tend to level out pretty low. I constantly feel down, or I don’t feel much of anything. I’ve thought about suicide, albeit not recently, and had a couple dreams about it, but I’ve never made an attempt to do anything.
The times I do force myself to leave the house, I end up pasting a fake smile on my face and acting like I’m okay. Doing that kills me, but it keeps things less complicated with people who don’t know that I was diagnosed. Or at least I can’t remember if they know that I was. Keeping people in the dark is so much more often easier than to let them into this world. But dragging someone into it would mean letting them past the walls that I’ve worked so hard to build in order to keep people out.
I know it probably seems strange to call depression its own world, but it honestly is. Functioning in reality isn’t something that those who suffer from mental illness can do with ease most times. Whether it be because of asshole neurotransmitters in your brain telling you that you should just stay home because you’re worthless, or because of crippling anxiety, or paranoia, or whatever the reason may be. It’s not something that everyone understand, and yet we try to make people understand. Even if they’re not willing, or don’t believe it unless it’s something that they can see.
Unfortunately, for most of us, mental illness isn’t something that others can physically see just by looking at our bodies. It’s mental. It’s inside our minds. Yes, they may be physical manifestations but they’re not always obvious. Shallow breathing that comes with anxiety/panic attacks? It’s not exactly easily seen, but it pains the body as well as zaps your energy and strength. Shaking/trembling hands? It can be hidden with hands in pockets or bracing hands against something.
The racing thoughts, the stomach knots, the walls closing in, the deathly need to flee. None of these things are visible, but they come with living daily with a mental illness. When it comes to facing every day, we have two choices: 1) just get through the day and know that you have another chance to fight harder tomorrow and 2) push yourself to do what you don’t really want to do but need to. The second option is going to leave you drained, both emotionally and probably physically, but it’s going to make tomorrow just a little easier.