This is one writer’s account of her depression and suicidal thoughts. She’s described a day in her life with the hope that it will add to the conversation about mental health and help erase the stigma — however, not all depression looks the same. If you’re experiencing depression and feel you need help, here is a list of hotline numbers.
It’s 5:21 p.m. and last time I looked at the clock it was 2:30. I have no idea how I’ve passed the last three hours. I have no idea how I’ll pass the next three. I am huddled in one corner of my bed, trying to take up as little space as possible even though I am alone. All afternoon, I’ve alternated between sitting here in this spot and reclining into the tiny space between my bed and the wall. I keep crying, and I don’t know why.
I had work I wanted to do this afternoon, and I meant to go to a coffee shop. To buy groceries. To eat lunch. But every time I consider leaving the house and walking out to my car — or even the kitchen — I lie down and cry again because it feels like too much. I’m overwhelmed by the weight of my own head. I wish I could take my own skin off and live in someone else’s. Someone who doesn’t have days like this so. damn. often.
Generally, I’m open with friends about the fact that I’m depressed and I go to therapy. I drop it into the conversation casually, making sure to be as matter-of-fact as possible: “Sure, it exists, but you’re not going to see it. Because I am functioning. Look at me function.” I don’t want to inconvenience anybody with my feelings.
tI’ve made peace with it as a concept, but I haven’t made peace with the fact that it just doesn’t go away. That this foggy feeling goes on for months and I can’t explain it. That everything “is going fine” but I can’t seem to cook myself dinner or do my laundry, even though I have time and in theory, those things seem easy. Yeah, I’ve made peace with the concept, but I’m still ashamed of the fact that depression is my day-to-day reality.
I was doing really badly for a long time, and I got tired of doing really badly, so I convinced myself that I was doing better. At the very least, that I was being productive and writing a lot. But when the productivity wore off, I found myself sitting here in a mental haze, unable to focus on anything — not even TV — and feeling isolated from my friends, in complete denial about how depressed I was. Am. Here I am.
It’s different for everyone, and for me, it’s that sometimes I spiral down into a sort of mental pit. I go to a place where I truly believe that I am terrible and that I’m 100% alone in the world. I can’t think, see, or say a nice thing about myself, no matter how hard I try. The thought of letting anyone see this side of me is too shameful, too scary, that I can’t bear to reach out. It feels like nothing could ever be good again, that nothing will ever change, and that I’m doomed to continue this miserable existence in my own brain over and over again until…? I’m not sure what. It’s dramatic. And even as it’s happening, I know it’s dramatic. I’m still powerless to stop it (but I can feel guilt at how dramatic it is, if that’s any consolation).
More realistically, it feels like having the stomach flu — only instead of fever and vomiting, it’s crying and self-hatred. Usually these episodes don’t last longer than a few hours (which is lucky), but if I can’t distract myself well enough, it’ll happen all over again soon. Or not. It’s unpredictable. The only thing I know for sure is that they always come back, and that there were times I was moments away from trying to kill myself. It’s uncomfortable to admit, even to type, but it’s true. I would’ve deleted it if it weren’t.
As I look up, the sun is going down and my lights aren’t on, and I don’t know just how much time has passed. This happens a lot. I wasn’t actually doing anything, and time just passed through me. Again: mental fog. But the mental fog, the dullness, is better than feeling intensely terrible like I was 10 minutes ago. There is that.
That basic mantra of “get help” doesn’t do a lot here. I wish I knew how to more productively reach out to people when something like this was happening, but truthfully, I need them to come to me. Nobody is a mind reader. I probably wouldn’t be able to accept help in this state, anyway. It’s a terrible feedback loop.
Despite progress at normalizing mental illness, it still feels many people think it’s a made up thing. And even I wonder about myself, when will I feel better — what do I have to do to get out of my depression? There are people I feel comfortable talking to when I’m like this, but…haven’t they seen this already? It must have gotten old by now.
Soon, this feeling will evaporate and I’ll go back to thinking that depression “isn’t so bad.” At this moment, it feels tangible enough that I could almost hold it in my hand. I’ve never been able to put words to this before. I’ve wanted to for a long time. It doesn’t “accomplish” anything necessarily, except that by making it real, by giving it words, it becomes a thing that can go away.
Julie Pearson is a writer and comedian who contributes to Reductress, HenceLA, and stages in bars and theaters around Los Angeles. She can be found on Twitter or on her highly self-actualized blog, My Adequate Lifestyle.