What Depression Feels Like: How to Sorta Empathize with Loved Ones with MDD

August 26, 2016


You know when you haven't slept well and you wake up in the morning groggy and without any energy whatsoever? That is a constant feeling. When you have depression, every single day feels like a Monday morning. And every single day feels like every single day is a Monday morning.
Have you ever really loved doing something? Maybe you're a hiker (which is cool, but I'll never understand that). Maybe you like to practice photography or walk your dog. When you're depressed, you have no interest and no energy in doing these things anymore. And unfortunately, a lot of the time, doing these things would actually be really beneficial for your depression. And you want to do them, but you just can't.
When you have clinical depression, you have no motivation. You have to text your friend in the morning and ask her to call you and tell you to go to work because you can't call in sick another day from your depression-induced migraine. It takes everything that you have to get out of bed in the morning, and sometimes that isn't even enough. All you want is to sleep until you feel better.
I think most people think that depression means being sad all the time, but when you're actually depressed, you feel nothing. You are empty and hollow and hurting. You haven't honestly laughed in months and you'd rather get a root canal every day than experience this.
You can't concentrate. School is next-to-impossible because you can't store that information when you aren't really even functioning. Sometimes you sleep too much and sometimes you don't sleep at all. When it's depression, some days you wake up and you feel magically better and there's hope, but you're too scared to fall asleep again because what if it comes back? And it always comes back.
When you are depressed, you get angry easily. People annoy you and you don't know if you hate everyone else or yourself more. You waste every day with self-doubt and sleep. Everything is messy and everything hurts. You are insecure about every move you make. Simultaneously, you don't care about anyone else because you need all of your power and concentration on your existence or you will cease to be. You cry because you are you and that's never going to be something you can sleep away.
It isn't always obvious. Over the years with your depression you have learned how to laugh when others are doing the same. You've learned to smile convincingly in pictures. You've learned to hide the monster from everyone but yourself. Even when surrounded by friends and family and therapists, you feel so alone. Not just lonely - alone. Because even other people with depression don't understand the dark cloud in your head. Nobody has it the same.
You aren't living. You're just surviving. Sometimes, medicine and counseling and all the other forms of help will just quiet it a bit. But it's always there and it's always going to be a fight. You are fighting for your life. Even when you don't feel suicidal, you are fighting to take control of what was once yours.
But the good news is that with depression, you are always healing. You will always have the chance to take a step forward even after so many steps backwards. Through time, you're learning what is helpful for you and what is harmful. You've found the kind of people who will stick by you even on your bad days (or weeks, or months, or years). Some people will never really be happy, they'll only be less sad. But sometimes, someone special wraps you tight in a hug and you can feel your pain leaving, if only for just a bit. You learn that it is okay for you to not be okay. And that hope comes back, and you enjoy it before it runs away again.

Yours truly,
McKay

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