Depression and other mental health issues are often talked about in terms of spotting it and treating it, and we relate experiences and how we got help etc. but seldom have I seen anything written about how depression feels to a sufferer, so that is what I hope to show you.
How Depression Feels
It is not an easy thing to explain how depression feels, try and explain how happiness feels, it's not simple is it? well this is no different but please bare with me while I try. I should say this is how depression feels to me, as i cannot speak for you or anyone else really.
Anyway this is my story...
Every day felt like waking up and feeling a weight pressing down on me, pinning me to the bed, it became like a large black dog lying across my chest, I would struggle to eventually lift it enough to swing my legs over the edge of the bed, and rise to a standing position, but the weight remained, pushing down on my chest, on my shoulders, on my neck, and it stayed with me all day, every step a chore, every breath an effort, this is how I felt day in day out for more years than I can remember.
But it is not the only part of my of how depression feels.
Added to the heavy weight from the black dog, is the bleakness of the weather that surrounded me, the sun may be shining, kids are running around in shorts, laughing in gay abandon, but it's always raining in my head. The beauty of nature, of family, of friendship is coloured grey by the thoughts that seep into every event and action. Thoughts of decay, of jealousy, of worthlessness, feelings of inadequacy combined with self loathing and a lack of confidence tarnish every day interactions.
One of the hardest elements to deal with when suffering is the constant, unyielding, insatiable tiredness that you feel, I could have slept for days and still have felt shattered. Partly because the cocoon of your bed is a safe haven, somewhere you can be you and not have to keep up any charade, but also partly because carrying the weight and mood described above wears you down, it claws at your muscles, drains what little mental strength you have left and leaves your shell like mind more worn out than you can easily imagine.
The cruelest irony of how depression feels though is that however tired and worn down you are, sleep is often hard to come by. You can be so worn out that you crumple into bed, but your mind remains too alert to allow sleep to come to you.
Hiding the Truth
Something non sufferers may not realise is that It is very easy for those of us who suffer to hide what is really happening, very easy indeed. Often the loudest person you know will be the one who struggles the most, an outward appearance is easy to fake, especially in short bursts, but it becomes tiring, which leads to wanting to hide away more, or sleep more.
A common Misconception
You know a common misconception is that if you suffer with depression you cannot have fun, this is very wrong, you can; and there are even moments where the weight lifts and the mood brightens but the cruelness of depression is that it returns, often harder than before and when it does it makes the enjoyment of that moment hard to take. In fact you often feel guilt for not feeling depressed, the mind starts to question itself, thoughts like "how can I have depression if I felt happy" or guilt that others will have seen the highs and think you are faking the lows.
Depression feels different to all us sufferers I'm sure, but it is a horrid illness that those who have not suffered will never quite understand, but maybe this will allow you to feel a little sympathy if you cannot find empathy.
This is in support of Mental Health Awareness Week.