What Depression Feels Like - Woman Crying

What Depression Feels Like – A Genuine Firsthand Account

What Depression Feels Like...When It First Hits

Walk with me on my journey through the dark side. Know what it feels like to be stuck in the mire of your own thoughts. Let us traverse this narrow, treacherous path. Take comfort in my company. You are not alone.

When I was in high school, I was hit by a terrible force that left me feeling broken. I didn’t know what was wrong, but suddenly I was wrecked. I started skipping classes. I withdrew from social contact, even feeling like a stranger in my own family. My self-esteem was abysmally low. Nothing brought me joy or contentment. Suicide seemed like the only option, but I was too afraid to die. 

All I knew was that being in my own skin was pure torture. My emotions were all over the place, and I either cried endless tears of despair, or burst into fits of rage. There was no way out, and I felt trapped and lonely. Thus began my macabre dance with depression.

It’s difficult for a person who’s never experienced depression to understand what it feels like. They may be convinced that it’s “fake”, or that the depressed person is being overly dramatic or seeking attention. Yet, the lurid descriptions below are no exaggeration. I relate to you exactly how it felt when I felt it.  Sometimes, my depictions may seem shocking. My aim is to make you sit up and take notice.

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    On the Outside, Looking In
    Photo by Stefano Pollio

    Depression Feels Like... Being on the Outside, Looking In

    You know that song by the Doors, People Are Strange? Yeah. When I’m depressed, everyone gets the stink-eye. They are all on the outside, enjoying life, while I am trapped in a parallel universe of my own making. Any advice people give sounds like meaningless platitudes. They can’t begin to comprehend the depth of my pain. Other people are the enemy, because they have something I desperately want. Depression puts a wall up between me and society.

    Depression Feels Like... Drowning in Your Own Vomit

    I am numb. Frozen. In the morning, I wake up, just so I can go to bed again. The fog of despair has descended upon me, but I am unable to cry out. Depression is insidious, and I am caught in its grip. My disillusioned brain regurgitates the same thoughts over and over: “You’re useless.” “You’ll never be happy.” “Life sucks.” No wonder I can’t operate. My ship has capsized. The battering ram that is depression keeps me from surfacing for air.

    Depression Feels Like... Being Told to Hide the Truth

    My appearance doesn’t match the desolation within. I am all maggots and rotten meat inside. I look in the mirror and attempt a smile. I feel like a fraud. Most people see what they expect to see. I am the only witness to the invisible struggle. Folks walk right by me. I am inconsequential. Life goes on. That old song, “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out“, plays on repeat. Society and all its stigmas render me silent. 

    What Depression Feels Like... Being Silenced
    Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

    Depression Feels Like... A Life Sentence

    For the rest of my days on this earth, I’ll wonder if every little sadness is the start of a new depressive episode. I have “depression PTSD”: I’m hyper-vigilant, always on guard. Once you have a history of depression, you are never safe again. Bad days are for normal people. My bad days are the start of a nightmarish cycle of hating myself and scrambling to escape my own prison. I have my very own black cloud that follows me everywhere I go. I’ve learned to hope for the best, but expect the worst. Every day, I die a little more inside. 

    Depression Feels Like... Emotional Deadweight

    The great void inside me is always howling to be compensated. I lack the energy to make it go away. It is too persistent. I sleep and sleep, waiting for it to magically disappear. My limbs feel so heavy. Getting out of bed is a losing struggle. It is too much effort to slog through this day, and every moment seems like an infinity. Even brief moments of levity hurt. I can’t wait to collapse back into an unconscious state, oblivious to the anguish.

    Depression Feels Like... Being Trapped in the Wrong Skin

    All the horrible things that have ever happened to me are fleeting through my mind, like colourful shapes in a kaleidoscope. Shame fills every pore of my being. Nothing is my fault, but everything is my fault. Although the damage has been done, I struggle against reality. With ferocity, I begin to attack my own flesh. I want to peel it off, see what’s underneath. Self-destruct mode has been activated.

    Depression Feels Like... A Bad Episode on Repeat

    The production has begun. I am its captive audience, and I am also the star of the show. My life unfolds like an old newsreel in black and white. The same scenes keep replaying. I have no control over any of the action. There is no way to interact with any of the other players. This is the worst sitcom ever. It feels like a bad 80’s rerun. Even the canned laughter from the audience sounds obscene. I wish I could change the channel. 
    Grayscale Photo of Man Standing in Film Studio
    Photo by Luis Quintero

    Depression Feels Like... The End of Days

    The future is lost. A black velvet curtain has descended between me and the rest of my life. My concept of time has been set adrift. I can’t tell you what’s happening in 30 minutes, let alone a year from now. Goals that once seemed attainable, have become absurd parodies of a bad fairy tale. I’ve floated away from myself. The apocalypse of my soul has rendered me extinct.

    Depression Feels Like... A Volcanic Eruption

    Anger is my fuel. When I’m angry, there is no room to be melancholy. Animosity rises out of me like a megalodon surfacing from the depths of suppressed rage. Nobody is safe around me. Even inanimate objects are subject to punishment. I don’t know where this fury comes from. It feels like I am burning inside. In reality, I am just broken, and anger never fixed anything that needed fixing.

    Depression Feels Like... Being Told You're Unacceptable

    Everyone around me wants me to be normal. They ask me how I am, and the answer better be okay, or else I’m not trying hard enough. Their tepid words of support mask a hidden caveat: they will be accepting of me, as long as I don’t drag them down. All of a sudden, I’m a toxic person. Just another Negative Nelly, not worthy of being around. I was never told about the zero-tolerance policy, until I asked someone to understand me. 

    Depression Feels Like... Seeing the World in Shades of Black or Grey

    Enter one of my all time favourite depression songs, Paint It Black, by The Rolling Stones. The morbid anthem embellishes the darkness inside me that seeps into my surroundings, cloaking my whole world in shadows. It’s hard to imagine any of nature’s vibrant beauty when you are at your lowest of lows. Each depressive episode for me is a monochrome collage of all the reasons I should end things.

    Depression Has Many Different Faces, as Shown by These Masks
    Photo by Francesco Ungaro
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    What Depression Feels Like – A Genuine Firsthand Account
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