- Men's Health & Wellness
What depression feels like
Depression is a fog that never lifts. A total lack of feeling. No energy. It's a crippling disease.
What does it feel like? Imagine one day you woke up numb. Your extremities feel like they weigh 200 pounds a piece. You feel heavy in the head. You're tired, lifeless. You don't want to move. You have a feeling of dread that something bad is going to happen if you do move. You want to stay anchored to your bed. It feels as if nothing matters, that nothing you do will take this pain away. So why bother?
When you do get up, it feels like you're walking downhill on a steep slope and that nothing works. Nothing makes sense. It's as if you've been drinking, but without the buzz. Every step feels like a thousand. You're tired. Tired of living. Tired of beating your head against a wall for nothing. You just want to take a good, long three-day nap and it will all feel better. But you can't because there are things that need to be done, people that rely on you. You have to keep going even though you don't want to.
It feels as if your joy is gone. An eternal numbness. I had no joy or sadness when it hit. I was stuck in neutral. I had no emotions. I felt nothing. That's the difference between being depressed and depression, and I should know because I've had both. Being depressed is temporary. Oh, it may last for a few days, but it goes away. You feel sad all the time, but at least you feel an energy, a negative one to be sure, but it's not like you don't feel anything. And you're still able to laugh at a joke, or enjoy a favorite song, And soon, it goes away on its own. You can still function. You can still eat and shower and go to the bathroom and read and take care of business.
Having depression is not temporary. It stays with you. And you feel NOTHING. No sadness, no joy, just overwhelming dread and guilt. And hopelessness. Everything you like doesn't do anything for you. Nothing gives you a lift. And you feel guilty about it. So you put on a show acting a little over the top so no one thinks ill of you, that you're crazy. There's a lot of baggage carrying this insidious disease.
It's an invisible disease, one that people can't understand. You look and talk the same way, but something's different. You're slower, lose focus, and lose interest in everything you love. Everyone thinks you're just in a funk, that you can snap out of it. You do, too, hoping for one magic moment of clarity that never comes. The one event that shake this disease out of you, that makes you come to your senses, that makes you feel better and useful again, that brings a spring to your step. But it doesn't happen, and as days turn to weeks and weeks to months, your look for anything to cling onto for hope. I remember watching a lot of tv, hoping for some buzzword or inspiration or secret message that would get me out of my depression.
(And people have a hard time empathizing with you, because you don't look sick. If you have a cold, or break your arm, or have a backache, people can understand that. But depression is something people can't understand.)
So you visit doctors upon doctors, hoping they have the answer. They have AN answer, which usually involves vitamins and getting out of the house more often. But you don't want to hear it. You start to worry that what you're going through doesn't exist, that you made it all up. And you look for the one thing that will end it. But it never comes.
Eventually, you drive your friends and family crazy, because they're sick of you feeling this way and sitting there like a bump on a log. They start yelling at you and you get angry. Then you say something you shouldn't have and people abandon you. But still, there's this fog. This crippling fog that's a monkey on your back that won't go away. You try to drink it away, medicate it away, distance yourself from reality, but it doesn't help.
I have been suffering from severe depression for over 25 years. I have been able to keep going even though I don't want to, and now I have a good therapist to help me get off my lazy ass and do things to help myself. I think it's a miracle that I was able to get a college degree and work as long as I have at my jobs over the years, and now getting back into writing. I've learned that there is no magic solution to my depression, no magic pill that'll make me whole again. It just takes time. I have gotten better. I do more things for myself, and I am not afraid to cry or ask for help when I really need it. But it's a long road to hoe, and I'm not anywhere near where I want to be. But I hope by writing this, that people can understand my disease and what I'm going through. And if I can help someone else realize they're not alone, that they're not going crazy, and steer them towards some help, that would make this piece all worthwhile.