Depression and how it feels
By Quirky Mischief

The title is misleading for starters, because you don’t feel, you are unable of distinguishing what is going on around you. It’s just empty, not like a cave that echoes and has odd flickering from water reflecting off the rock – it’s just black and deathly quiet. The only sound is your internal battle, thinking, is there a hidden door in here somewhere? But you are equally so exhausted that even being able to rationally have that conversation with yourself and then the energy to look is just beyond comprehension. And then it’s gone, that one flickering rational thought is replaced with the black, with the quiet, with the nothingness.

Depression and how it feels. How does depression feel? You don't feel. It’s just black and deathly quiet, an internal prison. It's not sadness. It's an illness.

Internal prison

It’s not a place of sadness. Sadness can usually be explained away – your friend said something mean, you watched a sad film, you saw something on the news that upset you. Or worse still you foolishly checked your bank balance thinking you could get those new shoes. That, my friend, is sadness!

No, this is different and in a way I hope you don’t understand me because that means you’ve never been there. But many of you will fully understand my words. Share them with someone trying to help you so they can peek through the bars of your internal prison. Then maybe they can begin to understand a little.

Somehow we still function

The odd thing is we almost lock the door from the inside out in our prison. We fear inflicting our darkness on you as if it were somehow contagious. As if you are in the light, and we don’t want to take you into the darkness with us. We want to get into the light. But we can’t easily although we have visiting rights now and then because life has to go on. And that’s the oddest thing, we can still function, we can still hold down jobs, we can still socialise a little. Not much as it takes every ounce of fragile energy within us to hold it together but we can.

Some even overcompensate so you would have absolutely no idea of the prison they will return to once the world and its occupants are removed and they can take the mask off. This place of darkness, of solitude, of quiet is what we come to recognise.

A non-discriminatory illness

The hardest part is admitting we need help and that actually we’re not just being a bit of a wimp or not managing our emotions effectively. Depression is most definitely an illness and anyone can arrive there, it is an incredibly non-discriminatory illness. It has nothing to do with how many friends you have, how settled your previous life was or how rich you are. This is way beyond just having a few bad days.

It lingers, it festers, it creeps into every recess of your brain and slowly covers everything with a fine misty haze. You can see through it, but everyone and everything is that little bit distorted. Colours are a little bit off, noises feel like they come from behind a screen. And when you live with this distortion for prolonged periods of time it becomes the norm.

Recognising it’s an illness

Manifestations of depression differ with everyone, but the one thing I suspect we have in common is that we don’t want to be seen or found out initially. It’s almost as if we are weak by not defending ourselves against it. Once you recognise the choice was not yours to make it takes some of the internal pressure off. We have imposed enough self-made pressures and our mind is like a pressure cooker. Only we can’t hear the whistle because internal sounds have been muted or blocked.

Recognising it’s an illness also allows you to seek medical help. I suspect I’d been clinically depressed for far longer than I realised. There was almost a sigh of relief when I got a diagnosis; I wasn’t going mad, I wasn’t just being a shit human being. I was actually ill and could now take steps to try and get better.

However, seeking out that help is really difficult. You try to rationalise where you are, again that aspect of not wanting to appear weak. But the daft thing is if you broke your leg you’d be straight to A&E wanting pain killers. So perhaps we ought to start regarding anti depressants as an illness pain killer? I don’t know, all I know is there is still a stigma – but how much is society and how much is self-imposed I’m not sure. Depression is talked about a lot more now. It is an open discussion which helps, but your personal stigmas remain.

Depression not sadness

And that’s the other thing often misunderstood, the antidepressants won’t suddenly make everything wonderful. The underlying illness is still there much like the broken leg healing while you take the painkillers. What they do is level you out a little bit. They stop the downs becoming quite so down and sort of give you a little safety net to allow some rational thought to enter your world.

Obviously there is a lot more, and will try and add it in but wanted to try and explain the nothingness first, and the sadness over the shoes – that was real! Irregular Choice on sale, gorgeous cute red ones and the bank said no – that’s sadness not depression!

Reproduced with permission, originally posted on quirkymischief

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