The Symptom of Depression That Caused Me the Most Pain
That brief feeling you get before you hit the ground when you trip and fall — that’s what anxiety feels like to me. Only, with my anxiety, it happens out of nowhere and that terrible feeling lasts much, much longer.
It is 12:17 a.m. I’m alone in my bedroom, sitting on the floor, leaning up against my bed. I am hugging a pillow, clenching it as hard as I can with both hands. The tears are continuously running down my face. But anxiety isn’t the only thing I am feeling. I feel like a complete failure. I feel like everyone in my life views me in a negative way. I feel worthless, hopeless, ashamed, and I feel guilty for feeling all of these things. I am exhausted and I want to give up. I can’t keep going on like this, day after day. But worst of all, along with everything else I just mentioned, I feel absolutely and completely alone.
From my own personal struggle with depression, it was this feeling of loneliness that became one of the most difficult symptoms for me to deal with, causing me a lot of distress and additional emotional pain as a result. When I was not at work, I would spend pretty much all of my time alone in my bedroom with the door closed. A lot of this time would be spent sleeping, but when I was not asleep, I would stay in my room and either watch Netflix or sit and scroll through every social media outlet I had over and over again (clearly not something that would help me feel better about myself). My room was my “safe place” where I could shut out and not participate in the overwhelming outside world that, at this point, I had no motivation or confidence to be a part of. However, little did I know, this “safe place” of mine was actually becoming more of a “danger zone” for my well-being. It was giving me an easy way out when I wanted one and it was feeding my depression. You see, depression (at least for me) encouraged isolating behavior that, in turn, would ensure I felt alone and worthless, and therefore as a result of these feelings, I wouldn’t want to leave my bed.
For months on end, I was completely isolating myself. I did this partly because I was in so much emotional pain and had no motivation, interest or energy to do anything else, but also because I felt worthless and not good enough for the people in my life. “Why would my friends, or anyone for that matter, want me around? Why would my co-workers want to grab a drink with me after work? Why would my boss think I am doing a good job at work? I’m not smart enough, fun enough, pretty enough, kind enough or interesting enough for anyone to want me in their life.” Combine all these feelings with my self-sabotaging behavior of isolating myself, and no wonder my depression wasn’t getting any better.
I did and still do have friends. A lot of them actually. They would ask me to go out but I would say no or cancel at the last minute, and then sit in my room on social media, watching everyone else’s lives, wishing I could have what they have. But, the thing is, when I looked at the actual evidence of how my co-workers acted towards me, I’m quite certain most of them liked me. We would joke around at work and a lot of them specifically told me on different occasions how great I was at my job. I was offered a promotion within a year at my work and another one a year later (while I was right in the midst of my depression), so I think it is safe to say my boss appreciates my work and thinks highly of my potential. When I think about all of this on a good day, it all sounds great. But on a bad day, when the negative thoughts have taken over, was my depression going to believe any of this “evidence?” Absolutely not! That’s what depression does — whatever it can to make you feel like absolute shit.
Someone who has never experienced depression may ask: “Well, if you were able to realize all of your negative thoughts were in fact not true, why can’t you just remind yourself of that on your bad days? Why think otherwise if there is proof your friends enjoy spending time with you, for example?” Well, because that’s just how it works. In the moment, the feelings of depression become so strong and feel so real. My depressed brain does not work like my non-depressed brain. It perceives the world differently. It tricks me. I try to reassure myself with all of the “evidence” I come up with on my good days, but depression makes me feel as though I am at war with my own mind and it really is terrifyingly painful.
I wouldn’t be able to count for you the number of times I found myself in my room exactly as the scenario I described at the beginning of this article. Night after night for months, this was my reality. Honestly, it wasn’t even restricted to the middle of the night. During the day, if I wasn’t at work, chances are you would find me in a ball in my room during the daytime as well (that is if I wasn’t sleeping away my pain). But one thing that always made me feel just a little bit better would be receiving a text or call from any of my friends to check up on me. It gave me actual in-the-moment proof I wasn’t alone. So please, if you know someone who is fighting depression, or even if you’re not sure, check up on them. Let them know you are there for them. Invite them out to a social event and keep inviting them out even if they often don’t make it. You never know how much you could be helping someone simply by letting them know you are there and that they are cared for and valued.
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