The Texture of Depression

What does depression feel like? I am learning about mindfulness and meditation, and I found an exercise that asks this question. I decided to try it. I slowed down, focused on my breath and pictured myself in a vast room, all alone, with a lit candle at the center.

I ask into the room, “What does my depression feel like? What is it? What are you?”

In answer, I feel a presence come into the room from all sides, slowly, quietly crawling up walls that I hadn’t even known was there. It is like a film clinging to these walls, everywhere but nowhere. It is dark gray and gritty, slowly turning this room into something that feels like a dungeon. I reach out to touch one of the walls, but I pull back immediately. It feels wrong — my fingers are too sensitive to its touch.

I am reminded of a problem I have in real life… an aversion to terracotta. I am repulsed by touching anything that feels like terracotta. I hate touching flowerpots. I have a hard time holding chalk. It sends a shiver through my whole body. I have this strange fear that it will creep under my fingernails.

The feel of the walls in this dungeon image is similar: a creeping, cringing feeling.

I pull my hand away. I sit back down and remind myself of the candle in the center. It is still there. I feel alone here, but on one level I know I am not. This candle represents my relationship with God, my relationship with other people, my relationship with my true self. My depression is a film that covers everything, but it is not I. I look up and see that the walls are darker the further away they are… the candle’s light doesn’t quite reach them. I instinctively know that this is because the walls are not real.

The film of depression makes its own wall… it’s a chimera. Beyond it is not an impenetrable barrier, but rather an open field. A field filled with light, the same light that shines from this unquenchable candle. One day soon, I will see that field.

One day soon, I will get up the nerve to poke through the flypaper mirage.

One day soon, I will see that this dungeon isn’t real.

But not today.

Today I sit here in melancholy contentment.

It’s OK.

I’ve got my candle.

This story was originally published on ScholtesBlog.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Ingram Publishing

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Depression

woman wearing rainboots

Sunny Days Are Hard to Come by When You Live With Depression

I strap on my shoes, feeling a little sick. My head aches; it feels like it’s full of cotton, that way it does when you have a cold. I’ve had the sniffles. I feel sick. There’s a wad of duct tape at the base of my right shoe where I had wrapped it around the [...]
Vector portrait of pensive long hair woman looking up

When Depression and Anxiety Make Life a Waiting Game

In high school I was mostly depressed from stress and found myself not talking to anyone for days on end. No one really talked to me either. I was left alone in my miseries. I didn’t have many friends and I was convinced I hated myself. Last year during the summer, I was preparing to [...]
girl surrounded by trees looking towards something

Having Depression Has Shown Me There Is Always Hope

I have depression. I take antidepressants every day because my brain is sick and they help me to feel well. When I first became poorly, depression crept into my life gradually. It started with feeling tired more easily, lacking in motivation and needing to cry often. I thought it was temporary. I believed that it [...]
Pills on a person's palm

We Need to Stop Thinking Antidepressants Are 'Magic Pills'

Perhaps it’s the way they are shown in the movies. Maybe it’s the way we see them in commercials or even just their names. But let’s get something clear. Antidepressants are not “magic pills” you take to magically make you a happy, dancing unicorn. I’ve struggled with depression for many years since my official diagnosis and [...]