What depression feels like, at least in my experience.

Depression sinks into your very soul, and you stop knowing how to love yourself; the thought just isn’t fucking there, and to even hear it, write it, be surrounded by the constant reminders of “Love yourself” does nothing when you feel as if you need that self love to EARN the love of others. People with depression put much more stock into what others say and think about them versus what they think of themselves. That concept of self love? Do you realize how completely IMPOSSIBLE it SEEMS to someone with depression? Of course self-love is real, and so very important, but seems like utter BULLSHIT to someone with depression. “Why the fuck should I love myself? What have I done to deserve any love?” Those are the thoughts that LIVE inside the mind. Everybody feels those thoughts once in awhile, everybody feels down and useless and yes, we all bend and break and regret and wish for change and a chance to do it over, but people with depression LIVE that. EVERY. SINGLE. SECOND. And sure, in moments they can feel brave, strong, and as if the fight is worth it, but those moments are so, so hard. As a friend to someone with depression, do not ever say “This shit is getting old.” You’ve only seen the surface, and yes it isn’t fair for a friend to have to ALWAYS deal with someone who is constantly down in the dumps, but if you say that line you are pretty much ensuring some major self-hatred in the future. People with depression understand how much of a burden they can be, how much they place onto others, and how unfair that is. THAT ALSO ADDS TO THE NEGATIVE/DEPRESSING FEELINGS. And asking “Well why are you depressed” is an oxymoron; there is no real answer, and thinking about it makes the person feel even worse; they have no “real” reason to feel bad, and that makes the guilt even worse. So what can you do for someone who seems to be suffering from depression? Exist to them. Do not try to take them out of there comfort zone in an attempt to make them “change”. By saying they need change, you enforce the idea that they are broken, which they ARE NOT. They aren’t depressed because they stay in, watch movies, don’t want to go out, don’t want to drink, etc etc. By forcing a change in habit you are forcing a person to believe that to be happy, they HAVE to conform to a new way of life. They just want to FEEL NORMAL DOING EVERYTHING. That is it. Plain and simple. The depressed want to be able to listen music, write a song, go for a walk without feeling so damn, fucking morbid about it. They want to feel what others feel, to feel as if they aren’t wasting time, wasting space, wasting away for nothing. The problem is they never can accept that they need to just do what fulfills them; that whole “do whatever makes you happy” line. Depression means when you find something that makes you happy, you feel GUILTY about it, like why do you deserve something like this? Why do you deserve to smile? To laugh? THAT IS THE CONSTANT THOUGHT PROCESS FOLKS. Everything becomes a big question of why why why and o me me me. And to top it all off, they realize how selfish that sounds, to only think about themselves, how this process of constantly feeling as if you deserve nothing is actually dragging down those closest to you, and makes depression a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, to recap all of that: People with depression feel hopeless, and because of that they feel guilty. The guilt is what really kills; guilt of not DESERVING LOVE, guilt of not BEING NORMAL, and also the guilt of not having a REAL REASON to feel depressed. How should you help alleviate this guilt? Try doing something for them that THEY want to do. Go see that movie they mentioned, just because. Grab a bite to eat somewhere they like. Try to bend a little to what they want, what they feel comfortable with, and ease them into new situations. Let them see that what THEY want to do has merit, isn’t weird or strange, and that they can smile without feeling like they aren’t deserving of it. Start small, don’t expect big changes, and don’t expect this whole new person. Put value into what they love, even if they won’t admit they love it, which they won’t because they won’t feel as if they deserve to, but they need to know that it’s all OKAY. Depression takes away the feeling that what we are matters, and breaks us down to feeling as if we did nothing but waste the time of others, and we need to end that wastefulness ASAP. Be patient, be kind, remind people how much they matter, how much they mean to the world. Sure, they may not believe you at first (and they won’t) but just hearing it gives pause, gets the gears turning, and for a few precious  moments someone can escape from depression and feel as if the world isn’t crashing down around them. A few more moments like that, and suddenly your head is above water more often then under, and you realize that sure, maybe I can’t breathe underwater like the rest of the fish, but holy shit I can swim!

15 thoughts on “What depression feels like, at least in my experience.

  1. This is a reoccurring question I have, the how-to-help a person with depression feel worthwhile, but I’ve found the most I can do is be a goof to lighten the mood or just spend some good time because it’s not my battle to fight. I am super glad I read your insight (hey thanks for finding my little blog) and think your explanations were clear and in some fighting-the-beast-idkhowlarge way…is awesome.

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  2. When people ask “why are you depressed?” or “what are you depressed about” I would like to smack them with a rubber chicken to let them know how ridiculous it is to ask that.

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    1. I understand how you feel, or at least I can sympathize, but I’ve learned that when people ask, it’s because they want to know, they want it to be simple enough that they can help. It can be frustrating, but it’s also frustrating for someone to watch a person they care about suffer and to not understand why. It’s being powerless as a friend, which makes friendships bend and sometimes break. But however it ends, it starts with at least a good intention.
      But I do keep a rubber chicken on hand at all times.

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  3. Disliking or even hating yourself I number among the worse effects of depression, more so than just feeling sad. I’ve seen how depression affects my work, and that now helps me pull out of it. Also, what in my environment causes depression? I had to sort out the real, structural problems of where I live from illusions of lack of self-worth.

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  4. There’s something not quite right about this think of ‘loving yourself’ – I think, anyway! For one, the pressure to do so is toxic, and injurious rather than helpful, and for another thing, it boils down to ‘the false idea of who we think we are trying to love that same false idea of who we are’ which is not a real thing, even though it might seem to be. Its a tortuous knot of illusion. I actually think what we’re looking at when people talk about ‘loving oneself’ is more ‘fear-driven attachment’ than genuine love! What is real – I feel, anyway – is to get a better relationship going with the truth. So if I feel bad about myself (or hate myself) I relate honestly to that truth, gently and non-judgmentally (to what extent we can be gentle and non-judgemental) and as a result realize that we’re not obliged to try to change ourselves. We can have space for ourselves and space allows change. We can’t love ‘our self’ because that self is a construct of the thinking mind, a made-up idea. Who we really are – I would say – is consciousness itself, which has no edges, nothing to hem it in, no boundaries that need to be defined and held to. This also has a bearing on popular notions of self-worth of course – which self are we are trying to find worthy? First we would have to know who we really are – the Delphic Oracle ‘Know Thyself’ is the key-stone being all philosophy, it is said. Without self-knowledge all other pursuits are laughable, according to Socrates. But maybe through life’s hardships, and particularly depression, we can come to discover who we actually are, without having to force ourselves to ‘love’ who we used to think we were…

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