What Depression Feels Like For Me

Jan 5, 2019 | Depression, Mental Health | 0 comments

A DESCRIPTION OF WHAT DEPRESSION FEELS LIKE FOR ME – RED FLAGS THAT SHOW THAT I NEED TO TAKE A STEP BACK AND FOCUS ON MY MENTAL HEALTH

If you have never read Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig then let me start by recommending that you do. One of my favourite quotes from the book is where he talks about how the word depression is somewhat of a misnomer:

“It is the wrong word. The word depression makes me think of a flat tyre, something punctured and unmoving. Maybe depression minus anxiety feels like that, but depression laced with terror is not something flat or still. The mind is infinite, and its torments – when they happen – can be equally infinite”.

Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive

That really resonated with me because there were times when I was at my worst and would appear withdrawn and unengaged on the outside whilst a tornado was secretly raging inside my head.

I have experienced some anxiety alongside depression but for me, depression even in the absence of severe anxiety still feels like that same raging storm. My mind was (and sometimes still is) constantly clouded by hundreds upon hundreds of negative thoughts swirling around at great speed.

I was suffering with depression on a relatively mild level for such a long time before I was able to put a name to it. My symptoms didn’t necessarily fit with how I thought depression would feel and so they went ignored.

Of course, this only shows what depression feels like for me. I am not a doctor nor a psychiatrist.

If you feel as though you might be suffering from depression or anxiety, see a doctor for a professional diagnosis. If you’re in need of urgent help, contact the Samaritans, or any of the crisis support services listed on the NHS website.

Feeling Down and Crying A Lot

People who have never experienced depression often imagine it as extreme sadness. To be honest, I don’t remember ever feeling extremely sad in the strictest sense of the word. I would more readily describe it as feeling flat. Low. A bit numb.

Winston Churchill famously referred to his depression as the ‘Black Dog’. For me it felt more like a cloud. A very thick, heavy cloud that settled over my mind. It made it impossible to think or see any real way out and would often result in me spontaneously bursting into tears.

Outbursts of Anger

Anger was one of the first indications to me that something was very very wrong. I have never felt anger the way I did during the worst of my depression. Sudden bursts of intense, explosive anger often ending with me destroying phones and other belongings by hurling them across the room.

Weight Gain

I gained a significant amount of weight during my struggle with depression.

This was partly because the underlying cause of my depression was an eating disorder and when my mental health began to deteriorate my disordered eating kicked up a notch.

The other side of it was a natural side effect of the symptoms of depression – months where I was barely able to get out of bed, let alone motivate myself to do anything remotely healthy like exercise or cook a nutritious meal. And of course, I drank way more alcohol than is advisable.

Withdrawing from Social Situations

Although I still live with depression, I would consider myself to be very much in recovery from it. And yet, socialising is still something I struggle with.

Six years ago I was one of the most social people I know. I would never turn down an invitation and I was out with friends most nights of the week. Today is a totally different story. I am more withdrawn and find socialising quite exhausting. Even text messages, phones calls and emails can often go unanswered for weeks at a time.

Loss of Interest in Things I Used to Love

Travel. Photography. Muay Thai. Reading. Actually leaving the house. All things I used to love and all things that fell away pretty quickly when I developed depression. I just completely lost interest in anything. Some days I would lie in bed just staring at the ceiling, unable to bring myself to even watch a movie.

Inability to Make a Decision

The weirdest symptom of depression for me was the complete inability to make any kind of decision. When it came to deciding on anything I would over-analyse everything and end up in complete paralysis.

I’m not even talking about big, important decisions. I’m talking about something as simple as deciding what to eat for dinner or what movie to watch that evening. I would agonise over even the smallest of decisions to the point where I was completely unable to make them.

Problems Sleeping

It is perhaps not surprising that I find it very difficult to sleep when my depression is at its worst. The second I put my head on the pillow all my thoughts triple in volume and I lie there, unable to quieten my mind and just go to sleep. When I finally do drop off its for a few fitful hours and I wake more exhausted than when I went to sleep.

Lack of sleep always makes me feel less resilient and less able to cope with everyday life. I am left without the energy and strength to battle my mental health problems and so it just makes them even worse.

Thoughts of Harm

I have had very few serious thoughts of harm but there have been the occasional fleeting thoughts. At my worst, I would often get a strong urge to do something to harm myself – usually very graphic visions of doing something like bashing my head hard against something very sharp.

If you feel as though you might be suffering from depression or anxiety, see a doctor for a professional diagnosis. If you’re in need of urgent help, contact the Samaritans, or any of the crisis support services listed on the NHS website.

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