I’ve never really touched too much on depression on my blog as anxiety has always taken centre stage. Surprisingly I have lived with depression longer than I have lived with anxiety, but depression has never been the one that has consumed me as much anxiety have.
But I thought it might be quite therapeutic to write about my experiences and a great way to shine some light on depression as like most mental illnesses it has it’s misconceptions and a stigma attached to it.
This week 13th May – 19th May 2019 is Mental Health Awareness week so it seems pretty fitting to share my experience. The focus this year is on body image but I wanted to share my own experience with depression as the two can play hand in hand.
I also began writing this post around a month ago now when I felt my depression had hit me hard for the first time in a long time. So I really hope this true account gives you an idea of what depression can feel like.
So what does depression feel like to me?
When it’s bad depression feels like a heavyweight is living inside of me. It feels like every muscle and bone inside my body weighs ten times heavier than normal. I feel like every movement I make takes twice as much effort to do. It’s almost like someone is hanging onto my shoulders trying to pull me down and prevent me from moving at all.
It’s feeling emotional pain inside of your body in particular in your chest and stomach. It’s a tense and heavy feeling that you have to carry around with you. It’s feeling like you’re going to drop to the floor any second because it’s taking so much for you to try to do even the most simple tasks like getting out of bed or eating a meal.
It’s having no interest in anything or anyone. You want to do so much. You want to do what you were doing days before and get stuck in. But your mind and body just don’t want you to. They want you to just sit there, wrapped up in a ball and do nothing.
Everyone around you is going about their everyday lives, wanting to get you involved, but you feel so much guilt and shame that you just want to be left alone. You don’t mean to be harsh or ungrateful but pretending to be happy, joining in the conversation or carrying out plans is the last thing on your mind.
It’s carrying around that guilt knowing you can’t be the person you want to be or that everyone wants you to be. It’s feeling bad that you have to let people down and worrying that you’ve upset them or brought tension to your relationship.
But depression can also be smiles, laughter and good memories. Depression can also exist during more good times. It isn’t always doom and gloom. It isn’t always sitting in a dark room alone, crying your eyes out, unable to get up and move.
Depression affects everyone in different ways. It can be something that comes and goes further you move through your mental health journey. Or it can be something that stays around for longer bouts of time.
For me, it came first in my mental health journey, when I was at school and I began to experience poor self-esteem, suicidal thoughts and prolonged low moods. I remember one time I was referred to seek help from my school’s student support because I was caught crying in class.
Never did I think that once I left school, I would then develop anxiety and panic disorder, which in turn has lead to other mental health conditions and a whole journey of recovery for the past six years.
Depression comes and goes nowadays. It’s never been centre stage. It’s been something that has come through to the surface when I’m feeling low, run down, hormonal or experienced a long period of anxiety.
But all I know is that when it does come it is real and this is what it feels like to me.
Have you experienced depression? How do you look after yourself when you feel low?
Further support – Mind (the mental health charity)