When someone asks me to describe depression, I stutter. It can be difficult to do, especially for someone who’s never gone through it.
This post is my attempt at describing what depression feels like for me and my constant day-to-day struggles of living with depression.
What Is Depression? What Isn’t It?
With how much trouble I have trying to explain what it’s like to deal with depression, people that never experienced it don’t seem to take me or the disorder seriously.
They think I’m a little blue, that it’s not really a big deal.
Maybe they think I’m exaggerating, being dramatic, and looking for attention.
They don’t seem to understand that depression is very real and is so much more than sadness.
Although it hinders everyone in similar ways, each individual still struggles with depression differently.
However, I think that some of what I mention here will probably be relatable to many of those with depression.
Although I am in a much better place at the moment, the monster I call “depression” still creeps up sometimes.
It’s completely out of my control and uncalled for. Maybe there’s a trigger. But at least half the time, it’s just there, creeping. And there’s nothing I can do.
I hope this post can be informative to those of you who don’t really understand depression.
For those of you telling depressed people to “just go outside”, “just think happy thoughts”, or “be grateful because other people have it worse,” I hope this post can shed some insight and change your toxic positive tune.
Try not to think of depression as just a mental, “invisible” thing.
Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t real or that whoever is struggling with it is making it up.
Depression is like any other illness. And there are varying levels of it.
For some, it can be major episodes that they slip in and out of over a period of time that can really impair their daily functioning.
For others, like me most of the time (though I’ve dealt with major episodes, too), it can be a chronic thing that’s always there.
The depression I experience is not necessarily debilitating. But it requires constant effort to live with (you can think of it as “functional” depression).
So try to look at depression like you will any other illness or health issue.
I mean, you won’t tell someone with two broken legs to just “walk it off” or someone with Alzheimer’s to just “read a book” to counter the effects, right?
Putting Depression into Words…
The Monster Called Depression
Depression isn’t just a feeling. It’s a state of being. Perhaps, even a lifestyle. But it’s one I can’t control and one I for sure did not choose.
I don’t want this. It’s just there.
The depression I’m talking about here isn’t the one that follows after a significant event like a tragedy or loss. I’ve been there, too, and actually, it’s pretty different. But that’s for another time.
The depression I’m talking about right now is the one in everyday life that lingers.
It’s this constant, unexplainable feeling of dread, emptiness, and hopelessness, sometimes guilt, sometimes numbness, that never seems to go away no matter the circumstances.
I feel it some days less than others. But nonetheless, it always seems to be there.
Sometimes, I feel like crying. The littlest disappointment, panic, or frustration can bring me to tears. Or I wake up feeling like crying, maybe because I don’t want to be awake.
So I picture my mind as a never-ending forest.
There’s always so much more to be explored.
There are wonders, but there are also scary, mysterious things.
There are hidden monsters that I have yet to discover or thought I’ve forgotten about that would come at times to haunt me.
Depression is one of those monsters that’s always lingering in that forest.
Sometimes, it’s deeper in there, nowhere to be seen. But l know it’s there.
And sometimes, it’s right there, mocking me at the surface, trying to pull me in, revealing all those hidden monsters that I tried to leave in there.
Sometimes, I try to fight or push them back. And sometimes, I don’t.
The Daily Battle
Every day can be a constant battle.
Even just getting out of bed to use the bathroom may take a lot of effort and feel like work.
I can’t even imagine doing actual work, especially one that requires physical stamina or brainpower. It can be exhausting to even think about.
The least of tasks can wear me out. Then, all I can think about is how lazy I am.
Sometimes, I zone out, unable to concentrate on what someone is saying or what I’m doing.
I also fail to notice how slow I can be until I realize that the person talking to me is awkwardly waiting for my response to what they said.
To me, my mind might be going at 100 miles per hour. But to the outside world, I’m moving in slow motion.
Or it’s like I’m a robot that short-circuited or encountered some kind of internal error.
People might think I’m crazy or that something’s wrong with me.
They might sometimes wonder why I seem so tired, so unmotivated, so “dead”. That is if I’m too tired to even put on my “I’m fine” facade.
They don’t know the battle I’m fighting every day, the internal conflict I struggle with on a second-by-second basis.
If they feel the same way I do, I wonder how much energy they would have left over for anything else.
I’m sometimes amazed I even have the ability to crawl out of bed in the morning.
Then, I think I’m narcissistic because wow, I just bragged about getting out of bed.
Feeding or Purging the Monster
Sometimes I eat a lot to try to fill the emptiness in me or maybe it’s just the best distraction.
Occasionally, I might not even bother eating because even that is a chore. And really, I’m just not hungry for anything – not food, not excitement, not life.
Eating can even become nauseating.
When the monster is right here, as prominent as ever, even a bite of food or a sip of water can make me want to vomit.
It’s like I don’t deserve to consume anything because I’m already taking up so much in this world.
Sometimes, it feels like time goes by quickly. But a lot of the time, it feels so slow, like the world is in slow motion.
I often feel like I’m waiting for something. I think I know what I’m waiting for, but really, I don’t.
Maybe I’m waiting for the monster to finally be gone.
Maybe I’m waiting to finally feel something that isn’t this anymore.
Or maybe I’m waiting for the monster to drag me to the place of no return so that this fighting can finally end.
Sometimes, I would stare at the clock, dreading each and every second I’m not in bed doing nothing. It’s like all I look forward to even though I know I have better and more important things to do.
And once I’m in bed, I just lay there in my misery, feeling just as awful as when I was still staring at the clock.
Then, once again, I’m waiting, waiting for the time to pass so a new day can be here already. And on and on it goes.
Sometimes, it’s like I’m letting life pass me by.
I tell myself to enjoy the little things, and I try. But parts of me are still just waiting.
Even if I am enjoying something, I still wait, waiting for the pleasant moment to pass because I know it will.
The monster will be back. It always comes back.
At times, little things tick me off, causing me to feel annoyed and irritated at everyone and everything. But mostly towards myself.
The self-loathe and self-doubt I feel are more than anything I would feel for my worst enemies.
I know I don’t deserve it. But at the same time, I feel like I’m obliged to.
Talking to people is work. I don’t even want to bother. Yet, I still fake that smile just so people wouldn’t think something was wrong with me.
It’s even more work to have to explain why I look sad or upset or angry. And I really don’t want to hear them tell me what I should and shouldn’t be feeling.
I don’t really try to make friends or socialize.
When I had friends, I pushed them away and shut them out. Then, I locked myself away from the world so I can brood in isolation.
Then, I tell myself that no one cares about me, no one loves me, and no one ever will.
I tell myself that’s the truth even though deep down, I knew it wasn’t, that I’m doing this all to myself.
I wonder, “What am I doing with my life? Where am I going? Am I good for anything?” But nothing ever seems to come up.
I keep telling myself that I’m throwing my potential away, throwing my future away because I’m too scared and insecure to try anything, to do anything. But am I really? Am I throwing my future away if I didn’t have one to begin with?
My “what ifs” haunt me awake at night. What if I do this? What if I try that? Maybe I can do something, be something.
But I don’t want to pursue them because what if I fail? Besides, it sounds like too much work. Not worth it just to fail, right? Why bother trying? What difference would it make?
Everything seems to drain my energy so I don’t even want to bother.
It’s already taking so much energy just trying to breathe, just trying to live.
Even when I’m literally doing nothing, I am still exhausted, mentally and physically.
Sometimes, I just want to sleep and sleep all the time, but even so, the exhaustion doesn’t ever seem to go away.
But I always have trouble sleeping because the monsters in my mind continue to remind me of all the mistakes I’ve ever made that I can never undo, all the reasons why I’m not good enough, all the regrets that I have to live with, and all the problems and conflicts I can never resolve because it’s all out of my control.
Even when I finally fall asleep, my mind conjures up nightmares to remind me that life’s awful, that I’m awful.
I wish I can sleep all the pain away but my thoughts continue to haunt me awake.
The voices of my past echo in my mind throughout the night, reminding me of everything I am or am not.
Anxiety gives me insomnia and depression makes me wish I can sleep forever…
Sometimes, it’s a constant struggle between the two.
One might be more powerful than the other and overtake it, or they both overwhelm me at the same time till I give in to my demons.
I still fight. But sometimes, I don’t because it’s just too exhausting.
It even feels like my body is giving up on me.
I wake up with random aches and pain almost every day, even when all I did was lay in bed.
I get headaches or stomachaches throughout the day.
Lack of a Mind & Body
To add to that, I have a bunch of health issues that I’m sometimes motivated enough to work on. But the lack of progress makes me give up all over again. What’s the point?
I feel tired and in pain almost all the time. And yet, I have trouble falling asleep and letting myself rest.
And no matter how much I try to relax, the aches are still there. It’s like my body and my mind can never truly rest; it’s always tense, always ready to be attacked.
Sometimes, it really feels like nothing is within my control – not my body and definitely not my mind. So again, what’s the point?
It’s pretty amazing how so much can go on in my mind yet nothing goes on at the same time.
It’s crowded with worries and fears and I’m tired of all the thinking and all the negative thoughts. Yet at the same time, it feels like an empty void searching for some signs or meaning to life or to myself but nothing ever really shows up.
I don’t really have goals or desires. And when I finally do, I think it’s absurd because I’ll never get it. It’s all just mindless dreaming and wishful thinking.
And at some point, like the things I used to enjoy, I will dread it and once again, it will feel like work.
Even breathing feels like work that I sometimes want to stop so I can finally rest.
I feel worthless a lot of the time and wonder why I’m even alive.
Sometimes I wonder, how can other people be so happy and so hopeful when life can be so dreadful?
How can I sometimes be happy and hopeful when all I feel at the moment is this emptiness and hopelessness? It’s like that wasn’t even me.
When depression is here, it’s like being happy or even neutral wasn’t even in my reality. It’s like someone just implanted those memories into me.
I can remember it, but I don’t know the feeling and I don’t trust it. And I can’t see it ever happening again.
But I want to be that again, no matter how unfamiliar or foreign it feels. It was once here, I know that.
But once the monster is here, I feel so helpless, so hopeless. I want to do something about it but I don’t know what to do.
And nothing I do seems to make me feel any differently. Sometimes, it feels like I choose to be this miserable. Like I’m asking for it.
Death used to be all I think about because I didn’t see another way to get away from this agony. I’d wonder what it’d be like for life to end, visualizing all the possible scenarios.
But I lacked the motivation and energy to do it. Plus, I was too afraid to do it because I was worried I would end up somewhere worse.
Sometimes, the idea of living is tiring that I want to stop.
It’s not necessarily that I want to die, just that I might not mind dying because life can be so tiring and painful sometimes that death sounds like a nice break from it all.
However, lately, death rarely crosses my mind. And when it does, I just sit there until the feeling passes.
I know at some point, the monster will return to the forest and I’ll be okay again. Well, as okay as I could be.
I know that “okay” is only temporary – whether that’s a short moment, a day, or a few days. But it never really lasts longer than that. The monster will return at some point.
Sometimes, it’s just for a moment. But sometimes, it will drag me into the forest and leave me there for a while.
Even when I’m smiling or laughing, I know that monster is still there. And there’s nothing I can do to get rid of it. All I can do is hope that it’ll show up less.
Who knows, maybe one day, it’ll just be a distant memory. Maybe it’ll be deep enough in the forest that I won’t see it for a really long time, if ever.
But until that day comes, this is my life and there’s nothing I can do but accept it.
I’m still alive and I’m still trying.
I am fighting this monster every day.
I’m not too strong, but I’m getting stronger, I think.
I probably won’t ever defeat it. But as long as I am able to keep it at bay, I should be fine.
At least I’m not fighting it alone anymore.
Some Final Words
I know this is a pretty bleak post compared with my other stuff. But that’s what depression is – it’s bleak.
However, I do want to end it on a hopeful note because, well, this is Hopeful Panda.
Depression is still a constant battle for me. But I am better.
Some days, I relapse and it’s like nothing ever changed. And those days are tough. But as long as I remember that those days aren’t forever, I can get through them.
If you’re struggling with depression, you and I both know the amount of work it takes to live with it. I applaud you for that.
You are doing your best, even if your best is simply just breathing. It’s okay. You’re still here and you’re still trying.
And I know we both hate people that tell us that it will get better or to get off our butts and do something about it. So I won’t tell you that.
I have plenty of other posts for that (put in a much nicer way, I’d hope) if that’s what you want to hear.
So what I will tell you is this: take it one breath at a time.
I don’t know if it’ll get better for you and I know you don’t know either. But I hope it does.
It did get better for me when I always believed it wouldn’t. And I continue to hope it does even though I don’t know either.
No one really knows. That’s the sucky part about it.
All we can do is just keep trying and living and breathing – one breath at a time – even if it hurts. And I guess, cross our fingers and hope, not for the best, but for the slightly less bad.
Hi there, I’m Estee.
Having been raised by an abusive mother, I developed an interest in mental health to better learn, understand, and manage the effects the abuse had on me. My experiences inspired me to create Hopeful Panda.
In my free time, you’ll find me cooking, organizing, playing video games, writing, or spending time with my family. You can read more about me and my blog here.
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