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What It Feels Like When Depression Overpowers You

Today is a bad day.

Living with depression means that some days are fine, some days have a ceiling for how good I can feel and some days throw me into a pit. Today is one of the latter days. Usually when I write about it, I’m in the middle category, where I’m acutely aware of my depression, but it doesn’t have full control.  Today, it’s in power, and I think that the experience of that kind of day needs to be described.

This is hard to write because I keep zoning out while doing it. I tend to stare at the “J” key. My mind, if I ever pause, feels like a vacuum. It’s not just empty, it’s pulling at the few parts of me that are still functioning, making it difficult to focus on much of anything.

But, I’m doing my best. If this were a day where I had to go to class or work, I would probably have headphones on – avoiding human contact where possible and generally trying to act normal. Some people would ask me how I am, and I’d answer, “tired.” They’d move on, satisfied with the answer.

Everyone’s tired in college. For most people, it’s a cycle of not sleeping, pouring caffeine in, and waiting to crash. I don’t drink caffeine and people know this; they expect me to be tired. Most days, I’m physically okay, but my mind is working slower than usual and my concentration is shot. I want to just lie in bed all day, not having to work or exist. It’s not even a need for sleep – it’s just a need to shut down, pause and take a break from life. But that’s not how life works, and every time I do take a break – because my mind will not allow me not to – I get dangerously behind on my work. Enter stress to get things done, and things get worse in a spiral that never seems to end.

I sit in my chair in front of my desk. I have a test soon and I have a lot of homework to do. I just stare at the computer. Sometimes, I turn on the TV
because, at least then, it seems like I’m consciously procrastinating, rather than being fully under the control of my depression. I get in the shower and either stand under the water or curl up on the floor, not really washing, because I don’t have the energy. Just getting in the shower was my attempt at going through the motions. Some days, that has to be good enough.

Some days, I don’t sleep. Other days, I literally have to drag myself out of bed. A lot of days, I don’t eat unless I force myself to. I do get food in me, but there’s no enjoyment from it – it’s a mechanical process that I do because I have to. Sometimes, I do it because it offers me a break from life for a little while. It certainly sounds more important than staring into space, so people are less likely to disturb me. So long as I’m eating, people are less likely to think something’s wrong.

Depression isn’t new to me. I felt it surging up, and warned everyone close to me that it was coming and what should be red flags. But depression is tricky, and has perverted my usual warning signs. I don’t know my triggers.  I don’t know the destructive behaviors that depression leads me to. And if I don’t know, then certainly nobody else will. Half the time, the things I do to try to fight my depression seem to strengthen it. It uses my battle strategies as a way to hide itself away.  And that just makes it win.

There are good days, and I try to focus on those. I have friends and family that care about me and a church that is welcoming. I am being presented with a vast number and variety of opportunities to change the world and to change my future.  I watch television shows that I should enjoy and take classes that should interest me, but the “should” is what really makes it depression. These things exist, I acknowledge them, and I relish in them when I am able to – but often, I am not able to embrace all of the good things.  I try, but the emptiness doesn’t go away. It fills up every part of my body, suffocating me in it until I realize that I’m no longer the dominant part of myself. Depression has control over me and I am the underdog.

There are no simple solutions. I just live day by day and hope that someday soon it will get better. Someday soon, I’ll fight it and win. But for now, the depression is winning. I’ll keep on fighting, but today it has the upper hand. Today, I lost the fight for myself. It keeps winning battles again and again. My hope is that by keeping myself alive, by going through the motions, I might just win the war.

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

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.