Sometimes, it is difficult to completely explain what living with depression feels like. I’m going to try anyway because it is important for everyone to get a better understanding of it since the number of people with depression is increasing, but many people who don’t have it still brush it off as it were nothing.
It is far from nothing.
You wake up, but you keep your eyes shut. Your alarm clock is set to wake you up any minute, you just know it. But you dread it. It means having to swim through the the seemingly thick air around you and start your day. But you can’t. Your muscles work fine, nothing physically hurts. Your mental and emotional state is a whole other issue.
Your alarm goes off. You wince and reach over to shut it off. Your inner monologue repeats “I can’t do it today. I can’t do it today. I can’t do it today” on a never ending loop. It hurts. “Why do I feel this way?” you wonder. “Why can’t I do this?” “Because you can’t”, you reply to yourself. You just can’t.
You get up and prepare yourself to call work. Do you tell them the truth today? Do you tell them your depression is so bad today that you can’t bear to step one foot out of your front door because it will be one step too many? Or do you just go with the old standard? Will your boss understand? Your breathing increases as you dial the number and listen to the line ring. You pray and pray that you reach their voice mail, though many times you do when it’s this early in the morning. The line clicks to voice mail. You breathe a sigh of relief. You hear the tone. You apologize, but you woke up not feeling well today. You ensure your voice sounds a little hoarse and believable. You leave your number in case they need to reach you, and apologize again before hanging up. Hopefully one day you can tell them the truth.
Your shoulders lighten a little. That’s the main obligation for the day out of the way. You look around the room. You see your furniture, your possessions, your walls… they are all too much for you to stand right now. Just having your eyes open almost brings you to tears. It’s too much. You need to escape, but you still can’t set one foot out the front door. You escape to the only place where it is dark and quiet, where the world and your possessions can’t find you.
You go back to bed and sleep.
However many hours later, you’re awake again, thankful for the escape. Most likely it’s after noon and you’re hungry. Are you hungry? The thought of asking yourself this question strikes you as odd. Of course I’m hungry, I skipped breakfast and lunch. You open your fridge and stare at its contents. You have a lot to eat and nothing to eat at the same time. In the end you decide you are not hungry, so you close the door.
You wander over and sit where your body tells you to. Sometimes it’s the couch. Sometimes it’s a kitchen chair. Sometimes it’s the floor. Wherever you are, you sit, and you begin to stare off at nothing in particular. You stare and stare, and minutes pass, but you don’t pay attention to how many. “Why is this happening?” you ask yourself. Then you are suddenly disturbed by everything around you. Your possessions start to haunt you, and you start seeing dollar amounts appear next to everything you own. If you could just sell it all, or just get rid of it. Then would you feel better? Everything is suffocating you. Could you stand to live without them? You curse yourself for having so much stuff. Why do I have all this junk in the first place. You feel disconnected from everything, like a ghost. It’s as if you are not meant to be here and everything is pulling away from you.
You slowly drift to a better state of consciousness, and the dollar amounts fade away. You’re still sitting, so you decide to lay down wherever you can. Minutes pass again. Your significant other comes home. Suddenly, you start to dread their questions, because they always feel the same, and it feels like you are beaten with a baseball bat each time.
“How do you feel?” The first blow takes out both of your knees.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” Your gut takes a hit and suddenly feels hollow.
“I don’t know what to say.” The final blow is to your head, and it caves in.
You can’t answer worth a damn. You can’t articulate well enough for them to understand. You don’t know what would help. You feel at a loss, because you know they care and mean well. The best you can do is give them a meek smile and reply that you will be okay.
Until another day like today comes around.