This Is What Depression Feels Like

We need to remember that depression is not a choice.

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Photo by Sam Manns on Unsplash

I always used to have a belief that depression was something people went through, but could easily overcome if they tried to be happy.

I was wrong.

It wasn’t until I experienced depression first-hand that I truly knew what it felt like to feel trapped in a bottomless abyss of sadness.

Soon enough, I became stuck in a perpetual cycle of negative thoughts controlling my mind. Throughout the day, my mind bombarded me with reasons as to why I wasn’t good enough, and how I’d feel like this for the rest of my life.

But over the years, I’ve found myself becoming a lot more empathetic to other people with depression as I understand what they’re going through.

When you feel depressed, it’s hard to focus on enjoying the present moment as you’re continually worrying about the future or anything else that is on your mind.

Life feels empty; It’s like you’re existing but don’t have the capacity to enjoy things that you used to consider fun. For example, going out with friends, seeing family, or playing video games.

I’m empathetic to the fact that people without prior experience of depression may question why it’s difficult to enjoy anything. But the truth is that living a happier life is easier said than done.

Whether it’s due to life events, a chemical imbalance, or anything else, it can be challenging to focus on anything other than negative thoughts dominating your mind.

When you struggle to sleep due to depression, it’s common to wake up with a lack of mental clarity, increased levels of anxiety, and other conditions that exaggerate your emotional state.

Quoting an article from the National Sleep Foundation:

“People with insomnia have greater levels of depression and anxiety than those who sleep normally. The more a person experiences insomnia, and the more frequently they wake at night as a result, the higher the chances of developing depression.”

As I’m continually kept awake by my thoughts, and waking up early with anxiety, it’s difficult to sleep when going through periods of severe depression.

But whenever possible, I try to replace my negative thoughts with more positive ones, so I’m able to sleep with relative ease. In the words of William James: “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

When your mind is pre-occupied with trying to win the battle against negative thoughts inside your head, it’s easy to slide towards negative habits. For example, eating loads of ice cream as a form of comfort food.

As much as I’d love to eat healthier, have more confidence, and improve other aspects of my life, it’s challenging to make that a reality during times of depression. For example:

  • When I’m feeling down, it’s incredibly tempting to binge-watch 12 episodes of TV shows on Netflix.
  • When the stress of depression & anxiety becomes overwhelming, it’s common for me to stop talking to friends & family, so my social life quickly fades away.
  • If I’m unmotivated to clean anything because of negative thoughts, the house becomes untidy, which only increases my level of anxiety.

I realize that I need to change. But until I finally overcome my depression & anxiety, I’ll forever be stuck in an endless cycle of bad habits & negative thoughts.

Most people don’t realize that depression is an ongoing battle inside your head to break the negative thoughts preventing you from living a happier life.

I’m going to leave you with a quote from Lilly Singh, who perfectly describes what I’m trying to tell you: “A big part of depression is feeling really lonely, even if you’re in a room full of a million people.”

If you are currently dealing with depression, please remember that you are not alone.

I am here for you.

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