For anyone that struggles with depression, you will know that however much we have in common with each other when we suffer, it is different in every one of us who has to face it. We can share many commonalities but every person who has it will experience it in differing ways and varying severities.
I’ve been looking back on the last year a lot lately and doing so has made me see that even with depression there are several very different episodes I can experience within that spectrum…
It’s hard to describe this kind of depression but it feels as though I am, not just mentally but, physically empty of emotions or even organs. I very literally feel as though I am a walking shell. I am not severely depressed in the sense I can get out of bed and go to work but everything is on autopilot and it feels as though I am participating in a life my mind isn’t aware of. I feel completely ‘out of it’; as though I’m having an out of body experience. Emptiness is painful because I feel nothing but that emptiness and no amount of sunshine or ‘fun’ fills that void.
Anyone who’s experienced this disconnection will know how awful it is to go through it. How you can see and touch everything around you but feel nothing. It’s as though you are living with no soul and it’s extremely painful but a way, I feel, of your mind going into ‘self preservation’.
Sometimes when I’m overcome with everything, instead of shutting down, it’s the total opposite. Everything from walking around a shop to eating will make me cry even if I’m not actively realising what my thoughts are saying. I am so full of emotion that my mind and body allows it to spill out. Even opening my mouth to speak to someone can produce tears quicker than words. It makes me extra sensitive to anyones words and if there is a sad scene on TV, I will continue to cry long after it has finished.
Those tears can be hysterical. Quiet. Non-sensical. But it feels as though they will never end. Every so often we even tell ourselves not to begin crying because we fear that once the salty tears begin to fall, we will not be able to stop them such is the pain we hold within ourselves.
For me, even a severe episode can be split into two. Sometimes every minute of the day is spent convincing myself not to end my life. Every TV show finds a way to tell me to kill myself. Every conversation feels pointless. Every decision calls me back to the Suicide Door. Last October when my world came crashing down, everything hurt. Getting on a bus. Lying in bed all day. Being by the beach. There wasn’t a single part of my day that didn’t try and convince me that ending my life was a better option than attempting to live it.
But sometimes depression can be like a balloon. It doesn’t burst like society thinks it does; one day it is full and the next it is not. Sometimes depression is a balloon that slowly deflates. A little bit of air continually escapes and before you realise what has happened, you no longer have a full balloon. The depression has ‘snuck up’ on you and your balloon has deflated when you weren’t looking. You are a shell of your former self.
I experience all of these and there is no set trigger on which type of episode I will experience. As I have learnt over the years; it is what it is.
But if you know there are others out there or that your friend can suffer depression in a myriad of different ways, it might just help you both.