“What a piece of work is a man!
How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties!
In form and moving, how express and admirable!
In action how like an angel!
In apprehension how like a god!
The beauty of the world!
The paragon of animals!
And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”
― William Shakespeare, Hamlet, II, ii, 291-298.
Do you know what depression actually feels like?
Maybe it’s me, but, despite its unprecedented awareness, I feel that for lots of us mental illness remains a vague, hazy concept. We understand what it is on paper, perhaps. For example, many of us are probably aware that nearly 45% of us will suffer from some form of mental illness during our lifetime . Which is quite a major chunk, just quietly. Or, perhaps, not. Perhaps it’s all much more foreign than that to some of us.
This, gorgeous rascals, is a post about mental illness. More specifically, it’s a post for anyone who has ever wondered what things like depression and anxiety can feel like. (I say ‘can’ because the spectrum of experiences is, without a doubt, very varied and I’m not going to pretend that my personal experience is either definitive or normal.)
I guess now would be a helpful time to give you a brief synopsis of my life in recent years, wouldn’t it?
I guess it’d be fair to say that the past five years of my life have been my hardest thus far. A big part of their tough-factor can be attributed to an eating disorder followed up by some depression and anxiety being thrown into the food processor that is my life. That’s a lot of fun stuffed into the one blender. Although I have come a long, long way and I am generally going really well, particularly compared to previous years, it continues to be a long, difficult slog… but, despite that, it’s definitely the best and most worthwhile slog I’ve slogged at to date. I have changed so much in so many (positive) ways and I am actually very thankful for going through this.. because I’m glad to have moved on from being the person that I was five years ago. I was a crazy-lady perfectionist, for one.
But, that’s not to say that the crap days aren’t sh!t. Because they are. They really are.. Even when my depression and anxiety are, thankfully, on the ‘mild’ (i.e. things-could-be-so-much-worse) end of the spectrum.
I know that even for some of my closest family members, getting their heads around what mental illness is, what it can feel like and how it can manifest itself has been truly perplexing. So, if this is of use to you, then I’m glad.
What depression can feel like on a bad day: some firsthand experiences.
Everything feels hopeless.
I feel like a sad zombie. Not in the ‘I have a craving for brains’
sense, but in that I feel like I’m in a very glum daze.
Everything feels really hard. Things which would normally feel
achievable feel so very far from my reach. Frankly, even bog
standard daily tasks feel like a challenge.
I feel sad, really sad. Sad without any particularly good reason.
Bit of a given with depression, but hey.
I feel overwhelmed.
I can barely think straight.
Sugar. I need sugar. And starch. Please. Now. Damn it.
I really just want hugs. Lots of hugs.
Struggling to remember what I love about life.
Struggling to get away from the laptop
(aka Primary Mind-Number which isn’t actually that cathartic at all).
Generally, body image and self-esteem are subsequently pretty average now, too.
My room, invariably, looks fairly disastrous today.
Negative thoughts abound.
When is this (down patch) going to end?
Today feels lonely.
Remember how much I would like to do and achieve
in life and how much potential I like to tell myself that I have.
Result: feel worse.
Categorically do not believe in myself at the moment.
Am I allowed to give up yet?
Should probably just sleep it off. Invariably I just stay up late instead.
I feel enveloped in bottomless hopelessness and sadness.
I feel paralysed.
I feel numb.
Thankfully, the vast majority of my days are happy, normal and even-keeled, but I still have down days like that which I’ve just described, too. I know that, to an extent, they’re just a part of life. But for me they’re also something which I’m still having to work through. In the meantime, a large part of me just wants to get through this stage and just get on with the rest of my life.. but I guess this obstacle is helping to shape me and the direction I want the rest of my life to go in..
Ok. And now that I have scared off any potential suitors from my life for the foreseeable future, I shall go back to Tinder..
PS: On an editorial note, I don’t expect that mental illness is going to be a reigning feature of my writing going forwards. It’s not my plan at this stage. (Partly because writing about failing at life is a touch more amusing and enjoyable for me to write about, for starters.) But, if you would like to continue the discussion, or have questions or you’d like to share your own experiences of mental illness etc, you’re so welcome to get in touch. Ax.