An Experiment for People Who Don't Understand Depression


A lot of people have asked me what depression feels like. They earnestly seem to not know, as if depression were some sort of unfathomable specter.

To that end, I offer the following experiment:

Make the bathroom cold. Turn on the fan. Leave only a single dim light to diffuse, as if barely there — maybe a flickering candle.

Stay in the here and now; nothing exists on the other side of that door.

Slowly and deliberately, strip off each item of clothing, one by one. Focus on each movement of each action.

Draw yourself a bath. Go all out. Make it the best bath you possibly can.

Get in. Lie there in the heat, enjoying the comfort. Close your eyes. Wrap your arms around yourself to make the warm embrace literal.

This is the world everyone else knows.

Now, still lying still in the perfect bath, pull the drain plug.

Sit there as the water slowly recedes, as the warm water turns to cool air on your skin.

Listen to the gurgling thirst of the drain, as your bath gradually transitions to the past tense.

Sit motionless, as you feel the water being sucked down the pipes. You’re half way now, but there is still some water left, still some warmth you can feel.

After the last of the water runs swirling down the drain’s rim, sit there for a while. Sit there cold and wet and naked.

Keep still. Let yourself shiver. Don’t attempt to warm yourself.

This is what depression feels like.

It feels like everything good has all drained out, leaving you cold and naked and alone.

Watch a video inspired by this piece below:

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. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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