What Depression Is


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Not just depression, but anxiety, insecurity, and self doubt.

Needing to be there for the one you love when they need your support, but being unable to be of any help because of your own miserable mental incapacities, and loathing yourself for it, leading to deeper depression and even less ability to be there for them.

Fighting through daily overwhelming bouts of sadness, complete emotional breakdowns of uncontrollable sobbing during which all you feel is hopelessness.

Trying to stifle those breakdowns when they attack you at work, keeping your sobs as quiet as you can.  And not succeeding.

Feeling as though you have no strength of character, that you’re weak, because of those breakdowns.

Enduring the length of the days when you fight through two, three, or more complete emotional breakdowns.

Doing your work very well, performing professionally, courteously, and efficiently, amid coworkers who are lazy, constantly complaining, crude, and thoroughly unprofessional, but being sacked anyway because “you’re not a good fit for the team”, and knowing that it is your depression and its effects that prevent you holding jobs for even as long as a year.

Wishing you had never chosen to become a parent, because, even though there is no one else who would care, you can’t end your life because it would mean hurting your children.

Knowing that even they would get over losing you, and feeling certain that it would be sooner than later.

Having it be all too easy to feel there is no else who would care, having that feeling overwhelm any rational thought that would say otherwise.

Withdrawing from your family because your dour mood is uncomfortable for them.

Hearing from your family that you just need to be positive, and alienating them further when you have to tell them that if were that easy, you’d have flipped the happy switch years or decades ago.

Having to fake your way through job interviews, because you don’t actually believe any of the answers you have to give to impress the potential employer.

Finding no pleasure in the waking world, even those things you once enjoyed.

Finding solace in sleep only, but finding sleep only after ruminating over your failures for hours.

Being unable to grasp optimism in any situation.

Not understanding how you could possibly be the object of another’s love, and seeing that become an unforgivable roadblock to maintaining the relationship that means the world to you.

Having a heart that’s broken and not being able to be rational enough to believe it will heal in time.

Having not just a heart that’s broken, but a soul that’s dead, because you put your heart and soul into a relationship with one who you thought perfectly matched them.  Knowing that you’re not the only person to ever have a broken heart, but not having the capability a normal person has to see that the brokenness can or will diminish over time.

Being unable to convince yourself that maybe you need not feel broken-hearted, and not knowing how to escape the perhaps made-up brokenness.

Having a Pinterest account, knowing that the point is that you find things you think might bring a smile to your face someday if you come back to them, but spending most of your time on boards devoted to depression, sadness, broken hearts, and emotional pain, and constantly finding pins that are perfectly appropriate for them.

Having seven – seven – episodes of uncontrollable sobbing and hopelessness in a 28 hour period.

Knowing that everything you say comes across as whining, helpless, negative, and self-deprecating, and not wanting to say anything because of it.

Being unable to function normally in social situations, and knowing you’re an embarrassment to the one who brought you along and introduced you to the others gathered.

Being told by your psychiatrist to quit trying to be someone you’re not, and just be the quiet, withdrawn, depressed, negative, sad person you are.

No longer believing that you are a good, decent human.

Thinking that maybe all the horrible things you tell yourself aren’t actually true or based on fact, because that’s what the therapists and self-help books say, but being unable to feel and believe they’re untrue, and so being stuck with them.

Failing at cognitive behavioral therapy, because you’re so far down you just can’t believe the corrective thoughts.

Downward spirals.

Not being able to be reassured, because to receive reassurance would be to validate the feelings of insecurity and unworthiness.  And so not being allowed to be reassured about anything, ever.

Knowing that your deep and profound love isn’t enough.

Having such insecurity about not being good enough that it proves self-fulfilling.

Desperately wanting to change your outlook and your very self, but being at a loss for how to do it.  Knowing that there is no magic pill, but trying to convince your psychiatrist that all the anti-depressants and therapies you’ve tried have left you in no better position than when you started, hoping that the next thing prescribed will be the one that helps you help yourself, helps you gain a strong enough foothold in contentedness that you can see hope.

Hating every moment of depression, but at the same time being so comfortable with it that escaping it would present a life so foreign to you as to actually be scary.

Having no one to talk to about anything, because your depression shut you out of the lives of those you love, those you used to talk to about everything, and because your depression makes you too anxious and too afraid to try to connect with anyone else. Fear that you’ll be everything you think you are and tell yourself you are, and so will be discarded because you’ve made it all come true.

Being unable to escape the negative self-talk.

Spending a lifetime thinking that it was simply your failure that kept you from fitting in, your flawed personality that kept you from trying to find out who you wanted to be or who you could become.  Spending a lifetime not knowing how to dream big, or even little.  Spending a lifetime thinking and believing that you are a failed experiment as a human, never questioning it but simply knowing that you didn’t deserve better. Spending a lifetime existing but not living, because you don’t know how and don’t even think you can or deserve to.  Coming face to face with the realization that maybe it’s not been your fault that you are unlike everyone else, that maybe it’s not actually been a personality flaw you should’ve been able to overcome so that you could live a life worth living, but still being unable to accept it.  Understanding at an intellectual level that you have an illness, and are not a failure, but not being able to internalize it.  Not knowing how to allow your heart to feel it as truth.  Continuing to beat yourself up and knock yourself down because you still just can’t grasp and accept that you’re not a failure.

Spending four years in therapy and not only not seeing progress, but seeing regression.

Loving with the entirety of your heart and soul and mind and body, but being unable to express your love enough, and feeling like you’re watching as the one soul who once understood you slips away – whether it’s true or not.  Living with the fact that your depression is what holds you back and prevents you making your love evident.

Not being able – truly not being able – to accept that you have anything positive to offer, and frustrating/annoying/angering those who could love you to the point that they need to distance themselves from you.

Longing for and aching for acceptance, understanding, respect, love, and being closed off from them all because you don’t accept them from yourself, making it effectively impossible for you to accept them from anyone else without questioning them.

Being alone.

Feeling alone even when you’re not alone.


Not having a “reason” to have depression, and feeling that you should be able to overcome it.  Knowing that there are millions of people who have plenty of “reason” to have depression and who yet are able to make the best of their lives, and feeling guilty that you don’t appreciate the myriad ways you’ve been blessed but instead allow your focus to remain on your hopelessness.

Feeling unworthy and undeserving of anything good.

Putting forth superhuman effort and still not being able to make any headway or gain any ground in your battle against it.

Believing that your illness is invalid, unlike physical illnesses, ailments, and diseases – or even others’ mental illnesses.

Unrelenting mental exhaustion.

Silently crying out for help, every day, with no one on a planet of seven billion that can hear you.

If you’re reading this and don’t have depression, this is what it’s like – at least for one person.  If you’re reading this and do have depression, are your experiences similar?  What did I miss?

In either case, I can’t stress enough the very real inability to overcome and the very real inability to escape the hopelessness.  At least in my experience, so far, it can’t be done.  Read that again.  It can’t be done.  Please think about that.  Think about the prospect of living an entire life with constant self-doubt, constant emotional breakdowns, constant assuredness of failure.

Think about the potential of losing out on the most meaningful and treasured of relationships in your life.  Think about what other disease or illness would bring that possibility.

Mostly, think about how debilitating it would be to simply be unable to, as above, overcome and escape the clutches of the oppressing negativity and hopelessness, and seeing how it affects every aspect of your life.  Think about how difficult it would be to not feel a failure.  That’s what depression is.

Update, 2 October 2016: I wrote this a week or more ago, and left in some uncertainties.  They’re no longer… uncertain.  There is no “whether it’s true or not”.  It’s true, and real, and all happening.

I sympathize with anyone who has a debilitating illness, and I can only imagine what suffering those illnesses bring, but right now I feel the most sorry for all of you here, and all those suffering from depression that aren’t here. I fear for what life will bring you – or, rather, what it will take from you.

Depression will, unless you are very fortunate – or at least more fortunate than me – take away everything you hold most dear. It will silently seize happiness and contentment, yes – we all know that – but it will strike even deeper and take your very heart and soul, and pitch them against the wall. Depression will leave you with a broken heart and soul that is, for all practical purposes, dead. And because it’s depression, it will stand over you, casting it’s unforgivingly dark shadow, and watch as every attempt at healing will fail miserably.

Do not let anyone, ever, tell you that depression isn’t among the most horrible of diseases.

© Sid Dunnebacke and A Canvas Of The Minds 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sid Dunnebacke and A Canvas Of The Minds with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


8 thoughts on “What Depression Is

    • I’m glad to hear that, kat – thank you. No, in actuality I’m sad to hear that, as that means you know. And I hate that anyone else knows any of what I wrote to be accurate and real. Best to you.

  1. Pingback: What Is Depression? – In The Mind of Men

  2. I’m so sorry u r still suffering, Sid. After trying several different meds, my doc found the right cocktail and I seldom get depressed anymore. I wish that were the case with you, my friend.

    • Thank you, Louis. I can’t tell you how great it is hear that you’ve found an effective treatment. As I’ve said elsewhere, I need to completely change direction in regard to my own “treatment”. That, five years in to seeking professional help, I’ve made so little progress that all of that above can be true and real is angering, to say the least. Anyway, thanks for visiting and reading. Hope you and your wife are well.

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