This is what my depression really feels like
The beginning of depression is both scary, yet not that threatening at the same time. It’s kind of like being tapped on the shoulder by a large stranger in a dark club but you don’t really care because your friends are around and you feel safe. You can’t see the stranger’s face but you still feel like they aren’t much of a danger to you.
The rest? The rest is terrifying. You turn to face your friends again and they’ve vanished. You feel betrayed by them because you’re certain they saw this dark figure poking you on the shoulder, and they didn’t even do anything about it. Next thing you know, this figure has a tight grip on your whole upper body. It’s heavy. It’s quite possibly the heaviest thing you’ve ever had to carry in your life. You can’t breathe and there’s no one around to help you. The walls disappear and all that’s left is the figure, which is now stretching across your whole world, turning it to black. The weight is still there. It’s as if gravity has been cranked up and it’s difficult to even move. So you lay on the floor crying, completely alone, wondering why this is happening to you. Why your world has disappeared. You can’t look forward to a bright future and you loathe your loved ones for disappearing.
You may decide that you’ve had enough. You might even get up despite the treacherous weight holding you down. That’s the hard part. You start running, searching for help, but there’s nothing. You can’t find anyone or anything so you keep running in all directions searching for a glimmer of hope in the darkness.
If you’re lucky, you might find a light, even just a sparkle, and you run towards it and stretch it open. When you stretch that light open you might find some loved ones peering through, trying to pull you to their side.
But that’s not always the case. Sometimes, no matter how hard you look, your loved ones are lost. The reality is, they have no idea what’s going on inside your head because you wear this fake smile that lies and says “I swear, I’m okay.” But you’re not okay —on the inside you’re dying, wishing for someone to save you, to notice that you’re on the brink of a mental breakdown and you’re terrified of what you might do. Even if someone asks, you might even lie, because telling the truth seems so much harder on both parties.
“They don’t really want to know if you’re okay,” you will think.
So you keep running, until you can no longer run anymore. You then lay in the darkness waiting for something, but you expect nothing to come. Why would someone come for me? No one cares. If I was gone, everyone’s life would probably be a lot easier. I know mine would. If no one cares about me why should I even care what my actions might do?
Suddenly, thoughts of suicide completely engulf your mind. You argue the pros and cons, and almost always the pros outweigh the cons. You try to lie to yourself.
“No, my friends do love me, they would be devastated”.
“No they don’t.”
A voice has appeared, an angry, vengeful voice, that follows you around, telling you that you’re useless and no one loves you. “They’re better off without you,” “You’re only holding everyone down,” “Just, do it already, you coward.” You try to block out the voice as much as you can, but you start to believe the voice. The voice is right. No one loves me. If I can’t love myself, then why on Earth would anyone else? What am I even going to ever amount to?
“Nothing,” the voice answers for you.
Suddenly that stranger in the club seems so harmless compared to the demons you’re dealing with now. You’ll never feel the same again. You hurt yourself just a little to see if you can still feel pain. You start to cry as you realise this is the first time you’ve felt anything other than a heavy weight in a long time. You don’t even remember how to be happy, or sad, or even angry. You feel nothing but this sharp pain on your skin. Suddenly, you’re terrified of this pain. Terrified that ending your life will just be endless pain. So you stay alive. You no longer want to live, but you’re afraid to die. You aren’t a coward, though. This fear just means there’s a tiny glimpse of the person you used to be still lingering inside your head and you just need to talk to that person. You ignore the angry voice telling you that you will never amount to anything and try to find the person you once were.
You want to ask someone to help you find the old you. But you’re afraid that they’ll be uninterested or bothered by you. You have no idea how the feeling of rejection will affect you. You’re just a pile of dust about to blow away and that rejection might be the last blow that makes you disappear.
You might even try help yourself, you might start eating right, going to the gym, going to therapy; despite not being able to think of anything meaningful to say despite how you’re feeling, studying, and socialising regularly. But these are all just distractions. The second you’re alone, the weight, the darkness, and the complete absence of feeling returns like a tsunami of pain and suffering. It makes you never want to return to the real world because the horror of everything returning at once seems worse than letting it stay with you all the time.
Depression is a terrifying, ugly creature. A creature that needs to be conquered. And it will be.
Fiona O’Kearney is an undergrad student in Languages, Literature, and Film. Half-French, Half-Irish, she was mostly raised in Dublin and will always be a city-girl. Writing and films are her life, and she loves spending hours watching shows like New Girl, House, and Breaking Bad. She adores all things Disney and hopes to be making films for them one day.