How Noise Affects Me During a Depressive Episode

I know I’m depressed when I crave silence. My brain cannot handle noise of any kind. Phones ringing, music, tv, people — I hate all of it. In fact, I can’t handle most external stimuli — smells, touch, etc. if I could live in a silent bubble during this time, I would.

My last depressive episode was a few months ago. I had a terrible tragedy in my life and I was struggling badly. I holed myself up in my house for several days, really only leaving to go to therapy. My son’s father kept my little guy pretty quiet and I stared blankly at the muted tv with the closed captions. But mostly, I just sat in silence and stared at the walls (or sometimes the ceiling for a change).

The most telling sign is that I turned the radio off in my car. For months. I couldn’t handle the drone of the DJs or the incessant noise of the music. I am not someone who uses music as a coping skill. I normally love music but not when I’m feeling down. I read things about people’s favorite songs to listen to while depressed (or something along those lines) and the hair stands up on the back of my neck.

It’s like my body needs a reset button. A rejuvenate button. And my brain can only push that button in total silence. My aversion to noise (and everything else) tends to last for a significant period of time, which makes living and working in the real world even harder than just being depressed.

But one day I turned up the radio. Low at first, but high enough that I could hear it. I listened on and off at that volume for a few weeks. And one day a song came on the radio and I heard myself singing — actually singing along to “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train. I didn’t even realize I was doing it until halfway through. And at that moment, I realized what a better place I was in than a few months prior. I felt better still even recognizing that. I was singing again! Such a silly little moment but so telling for me. I still have times where I need quiet time, but I don’t physically react to noise in the same way right now. I am in a better place.

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