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When Depression Sneaks Up on You


When depression hits you, it sucks the life out of you. It slowly takes away your desire to live. That doesn’t mean you always want to die. It just means you don’t care about work, friends or yourself. You don’t want to shower, brush your teeth or even do your hair. You may even wear the same clothes for several days. You turn on the TV so you don’t feel like you’re alone, but you never really pay attention to what’s playing. You may go several days without eating then other days you binge on anything you can get your hands on. Household chores are ignored. Your work suffers. Your pets feel it, too. They no longer see the light in your eyes and that worries them, because you’re everything to them. So you do what you can to make them feel better. You may give them extra treats. You may spend extra time petting them. But the light is gone, and they know it.

Recently I suffered from one of my worse depressive episodes I’ve ever had. It lasted several weeks. It was so bad it intensified my agoraphobia. My poor husband had to run all the errands, buy the groceries, cook, clean and take care of our household. I was so depressed I wasn’t even able to complete assignments or meet deadlines. The thing was, I just wasn’t feeling anything. I had no cares in the world. I didn’t have the energy or the mental ability to put into anything. I was satisfied lying in my bed watching endless hours of horrible TV. And what doesn’t help is I tend to watch more horror movies when I’m depressed. So then that just depresses me even more.

But this time, my symptoms were different. I was having trouble with my mind. I was worrying about things I shouldn’t have been. My mind began racing. I became so afraid of a home invasion I begged my husband to up our security. I got sick with the flu and was positive I was dying and begin to write parting letters to my sons. I felt like I was losing my mind and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I knew my fears were irrational, but that didn’t even help. 

This went on for several weeks, and I did my best to talk myself out of it. I tried to read positive books, watch positive shows, but nothing helped. The truth was, I just wanted to be left alone. I had no desire to talk, be seen or socialize. We had a group project due, and I finally agreed to meet my group over the computer as long as I could put a blue sticky note over my laptop camera. I chalked it up to technical issues. And I contributed nothing to the project because I didn’t have faith in my own ideas. My self-esteem was gone. 

I went online and ordered all kinds of herbal supplements in hopes that it would help. It didn’t. The dark cloud that had come over me weeks before eventually went away as quickly as it came. There was no warning, no aura, it just disappeared. I can’t explain it.  I’m not sure anyone can. I just know that while it was there, I was at my lowest. And when it went away I was even more afraid of when it will return. 

In a way it doesn’t make sense to be afraid of something one can’t control. But when you have depression you’re fighting every day just to hold on. I’ve learned over the years to accept my “depressive episodes” as part of life. Like how every winter I’ll get the flu, or, despite how much sunblock I use in the summer, I’m going to get burnt at least once. I take my medication and focus on the knowledge that the “depressive episode” will eventually go away like they always do, and that I can make it through. I live each day knowing I will be just fine.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

The Mighty is asking the following: For someone who doesn’t understand what it’s like to have your mental illness, describe what it’s like to be in your head for a day. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.