What Depression Is

Posted: May 24, 2017 in Fly-By-Night
Tags: , , , ,

The thing about depression is that even though you know – or hope you know, when your thinking moves beyond reason – that there’s a difference between it and you, it’s very, very good at persuading you otherwise.

Depression is insidious, laying quiet siege to the deepest foundations of brain chemistry – mood, motivation, memory – and steadily repurposing them as weapons against yourself.

Depression is a one-two punch, first making you feel incapable of enjoying the many things you love, then branding your fear at trying them (lest the fear prove true) as laziness: a self-fault, rather than yet another symptom.

Depression is a weight on your chest from the moment you first wake up, pinning you to the mattress with the realisation that nothing you could do today will possibly matter or make you happy, so why not just stay where you are?

Depression is sleeping either fourteen hours or four out of every twenty-four, and still feeling equally tired.

Depression is struggling to distinguish between apathy, selfishness and self-care while knowing they’re sometimes the same.

Depression is not so much wanting to die as wanting to press a button that makes everything stop, but there’s only one button that does one thing, and the more you hurt, the harder is it to remember that pressing it can only take your pain at the gross expense of transferring it to everyone you love.

Depression is an all-encompassing fear of failure: fear that your success is either insufficient, meaningless or fundamentally invalid; fear that there’s no point in trying; fear that you’re incapable of doing anything at all, and always were, and always will be.

Depression is thinking you might not be a real person, after all.

Depression is an absence of emotional object permanence – if your friends and family aren’t expressing affection right now, then they must feel none – coupled with a deep discomfort whenever you’re offered praise and reassurance (as you clearly don’t deserve it).

Depression is telling your child, “Mummy’s sick today.”

Depression means looking for tiny victories: taking a shower, making lunch, laughing.

Depression means walking each day as if across fragile, cracking ice that covers a roiling dark.

Depression means finding your own purpose in impermanent things and states of being, over and over again.

Depression means hanging on.

Depression means hanging on.

Depression means that every day doesn’t have to be a good one, but perhaps today might be.

Depression means moving a mountain when you throw off the covers, running a gauntlet to get dressed, a marathon to get outside.

Depression means breaking your heart, your resolve and your limits in the hope that, like a fighter’s knuckles, the microfractures will steadily heal you stronger.

Depression means a signal beaten back by noise, but your brain is a broken radio and your heart is the hand on the dial, turning and tuning for music in static, for bursts of speech that say I’m here, I’m still here.

The thing about depression is that I have so many words in me, so many wants and so much will, but my body is broken, my brain is part of my body but I am my brain in a way I’m not my stomach or elbows or aching ribs, and my brain is broken, my brain is trying to fix itself, my body is trying to heal a wound that isn’t a wound because my pre-installed virus scanner reports that there isn’t an injury here, just an old, inferior floor model; my body will not execute the commands I can’t route through my broken brain: there’s a barrier there, a pane of glass between me and the way I ought to feel about books and fish and Wednesdays and the smell of petrol; there’s a barrier between how I ought to feel about the way I’m feeling and how I’m feeling; I’m ripping away at my mental lantana almost as fast as it grows back, but the deficit is full of thorns and weeds running riot in overgrown places; I wish I could riot; I wish I could convert the way I feel in dreams to the suffocated waking hours spent with my eyes cracked open and stinging like two spoiled oysters, but the thing about depression is that it’s a civil war where you’re fighting both fronts in the battlefield of your broken body: each backfired nerve is a gunshot, and I don’t want to salt and burn the earth like a demon’s grave or an enemy farm, but what does that make me afterwards? I ought to lie down, depression says, but darling, these white bones were sown in bloody soil from dragons’ teeth, and though the marrow aches at night, at least

I can still feel.


  1. flootzavut says:

    Wow, this painfully accurate.

    “The thing about depression is that even though you know – or hope you know, when your thinking moves beyond reason – that there’s a difference between it and you, it’s very, very good at persuading you otherwise.”

    I think the worst thing about depression for me is exactly this, that it does its best to convince me it isn’t there. I don’t feel that way because I’m depressed; I feel that way because I’m a bad person who deserves to feel that way. It’s insidious and hard to fight because I have nowhere to retreat to regroup.

    The scariest thing about going on SSRIs for the first time was my fear that they wouldn’t work, because I wasn’t depressed, I was just worthless and finally acknowledging it.

  2. While I don’t believe I’ve been clinically depressed, some of my darker moments had some of the same quality. I was totally rational, absolutely no emotional distortion of my perspective, nope not me. And I know that was nothing compared to what people like you have to endure.

  3. You’ve perfectly captured how depression feels to me.

  4. modle13 says:

    Thank you so much for this.

  5. Aphotic Ink says:

    I’m sorry. I’d help if I could.

  6. W says:

    People keep asking me why I can’t just be normal. Sometimes they tell me I’ve got to be stopped, like I’ve got some ulterior motive, like I’m a supervillian with an evil plan to make everyone around me miserable.

    Therapy was a joke. There was a stuffed toy on the couch, FFS! And the therapist didn’t get it. Her face was like a rabbit in headlights.

    Every day I’m desperate not to get something wrong, and when I do it’s like the world is spiralling out of control. I can remember all my failures in exquisite detail and I can’t forgive or forget a single one. It destroys your confidence in yourself, your work, your ability to think and take responsibility. But the only way to break out is to go out into the world and portray confidence and ability and responsibility. To break out you need the exact things that it takes away.

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