Hello everyone. As I make the transition from missionary blog to mental health blog, I want to make every effort to keep it from being too dark. On the other hand, I want to get real. It’s taking every ounce of bravery to publish this real talk about what depression feels like.
I get asked forms of this question all the time, “So, what is it like to have anxiety/depression?” One of the biggest problems with this battle is that it is fought 90% in your head. There are very few symptoms of depression that other people can see, so they can’t understand why you act the way you do. I’m posting this journal entry in hopes of giving these people a glimpse of the battle inside called depression. I’ll do another post for anxiety/OCD.
I also get asked, “How do I know if what I’m feeling is depression?” This is such a hard question. If you read this post and relate, going to see a doctor is a good idea. But as in all things, pray about it, consult with people close to you, and trust your gut. The only person who can really decide you have depression is you.
What does depression feel like?
I come home around noon and feel incredibly tired, even though I slept the whole night before. I bounce around a bit from task to task before deciding I really need to lie down.
I sleep for 5 hours and don’t remember turning my alarm off. I feel achy all over and have a prominent headache. I turn over and feel so tired, just as much as before. I think about everything and nothing all at once and feel guilty for sleeping so long. I feel sad and dark. It takes me half an hour to coax myself out of bed. Even though I don’t feel happy or safe there, it seems as though anything beyond my bed is even more scary. My puppy is whining so I take her outside. I think about how my makeup is smeared and I look like a mess. I think about how I made Elsie stay in her kennel for 6 hours because I couldn’t take care of her. I think about how hot the sun is on my black pants and how I feel like I’m suffocating. Back inside.
Again, I do bits and pieces of different tasks. I wash one or two dishes. My head is pounding. I play with Elsie for a while. My heart is beating so fast. I start a movie, stop it. I feel hopeless and sad for no particular reason. I scan through Facebook and Instagram. It dulls the pain momentarily but the moment I look up from the screen the darkness consumes me. I know there’s a lot to live for, so many good things ahead of me, but I have a gnawing feeling of not really wanting to be here anymore.
But I don’t really want to die so I go back to my bed. Sleep is my only relief on days like this. My heart pounds and my thoughts come like rapid fire bullets, one not completely finished before the next is formed. All negative, words I wouldn’t say to anyone.
You’re not good enough to be loved.
You’re alone because you push people away, and people are sick of helping you.
Anyone you call will be bothered by you.
Happy goals are just a fairytale; love isn’t real.
You are a failure. You’ve barely been out of your bed today.
This will never go away.
I toss and turn and try to breath. I feel jittery and yet any movement is a struggle. I tap my foot over and over again rhythmically, but I tire quickly. I count my breaths but my thoughts are screaming at me and I lose count. I think of something I know is real, and repeat “My mom loves me” over and over again to quiet the negative thoughts. Eventually I fall asleep.
I’ll probably wake in a few hours and the weight will be lifted significantly. God never lets us suffer more pain than we can bear.
I’ll be able to get up, shower, and clean up the messes I’ve left in my apartment and the messes in my mind. With each dish washed I’ll imagine washing away all the negative thoughts. I’ll say a prayer and apologize to God for not helping anyone today, for being lazy, for not fighting the darkness harder. I see this as a battle He is asking me to fight and I give myself a review each day at how well I did. Today I didn’t fight at all, it seems.
This is not my everyday. This is a bad day. Hard to say how often they come, but they do come. Sometimes I see them coming, sometimes they take me off guard. All I know is they are hard. I feel as if I’m hanging off a ledge. If I hold on until I can’t anymore, an unseen force lifts me back up again. The point is not to get better at holding on, the point is to develop rock strong muscles and learn to believe in the One who lifts me up every time. I know I’m asked to fight this battle for a reason and I come out of each of these hard days wiser, more compassionate, stronger, and better equipped to hold on to the ledge longer the next time I fall.
This is what depression feels like.