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What It’s Like Trying to Focus in ‘Depression Fog’


There are many different kind of “fogs” that come from illnesses. Some are from the illness itself, some from the medication used to treat it. I’ve heard a friend talk about what she refers to as her “fibro fog” and I’ve heard others talk about the blurriness of thought when taking pain management medications. I want to talk about what I refer to as my “depression fog.”

When my depression gets really bad and I am past the point of no return and well into the numbness that occurs, I am functioning in what I refer to as my “fog state.” The reason I use the description of fog is quite simple. Have you ever driven through fog so thick it feels like you are alone in the world? Like all sound and color are muted and your reflexes are slow due to the limited visibility. It’s a lot like that, except it’s with emotions and thought.

When I’m in a depression fog I drift through existence at an abnormally slow rate and it can be frustrating to those who I interact with because of my slow responses and lack of being able to properly process what is happening around me. It can affect work production, social and familial responsibilities and physical health. It’s as difficult to function in as any other fog. My brain functions at a much slower response rate and my physical reflexes are dulled as well, due to the toll depression takes on my body. I feel disconnected from everyone and everything around me and my emotions are muted. It’s as though I’m walking through a thick smoke. I can’t process outside stimuli in a rapid or orderly fashion.

When I am confronted with something, it seems to come out of nowhere, like suddenly coming up on a car you didn’t see in front of you and slamming into it at full speed. Everything feels like that once it’s pierced the thick fog of depression to actually affect me. Coming out of the fog can feel quite a bit like blunt force trauma. Suddenly you have to deal with all the consequences at once. So I try and let people around me know when I am struggling, it can help to mitigate at least some of the damage it causes, even if it can’t always be avoided.

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Thinkstock photo via francescoch.