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Living With Depression Is Like Living in a World Without Color

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“It seems like everything is gray and there’s no color to behold.” — “Fine Again” by Seether

I wake up to sunlight streaming through the window, but in my mind, it is as if the darkness of night still hovers around me. My battle begins as I force myself to get out of bed. My legs are made of steel, and I must wade through wet concrete in order to get them to move. It would be so much easier if I could just get back under my comforter and hide from the responsibilities and the pain that the day is sure to bring. What is the point of getting up when every day is just the same, like a song stuck on repeat?

When I finally do manage to get on my feet, I know I need to exercise. It’s been over a week since the last time I did. I know I will feel better if I do, but today it just takes more effort than I can manage. I skip it again, then I spend the rest of the day feeling guilty and unhealthy. Why can’t I just manage to do that one thing? Taking a shower exhausts me. So much of my energy has been used in simply completing a basic morning routine. I know I need to wear makeup and style my hair. A couple of my freelance writing positions involve fashion and beauty, so I need to look the part. The foundation, eye shadow and mascara add color to my blank face. The right lipstick shade can hide almost anything. Fixing my pixie-short hair is easy, and I still looking nice and put-together. I find a bright and cheerful outfit and slip it on. I’ve created an illusion of color, and everything looks perfect. Isn’t that what people want to see?

I have to make breakfast, both for myself and for my daughter. We sit at the table and eat. I want to just stay there, in that moment, breathing in her innocence and her blissful unawareness of the harsh realities of this world. I want to get better for her. I want to just hold her and protect her and let her do the same for me. People can be cruel and hurtful when you are different, as both she and I are. Why can’t we just stay here, safe and sheltered?

After breakfast, I need to start working on writing assignments. I feel frozen in my chair. I enjoy writing, and once I get started, I feel as if the words truly flow from me with clarity and truth. However, getting started can feel like torture. Depression robs me of motivation and pleasure. It makes the smallest things, such as brushing my teeth or hair, seem like running a marathon, so when it comes to completing something challenging, such as writing, it is like I am climbing Mount Everest. When I have to make a phone call, I have to spend almost an hour psyching myself up beforehand. For me, it takes a great deal of effort to do something as seemingly simple as talking on the phone. While that may be easy for someone without depression, for me, it feels like I’m about to give a speech to an audience in a packed auditorium. I dread it that much. This is why I almost always choose texting over calling. I know I can’t help feeling this way, yet I still get frustrated with myself. Why do I find it so difficult to do tasks others seem to do with ease?

Still left to tackle are trips to the store, social events, church, gatherings with friends and family functions. Sometimes I can “fake” that I am fine, but most of the time, I cannot. Sometimes I will just stay home. Other times, I will attend and be quiet or withdrawn. Then the gray cloud follows me and infects other people— or at least that’s how I feel. The room will seem cheerful and happy, and then I come in and the color and cheer are sucked right out. Why can’t I just have fun like other people?

Depression, in my experience, is like a world with no color. It is looking all around me, watching others enjoy life, but finding myself a spectator rather than a participant. Even when I smile or laugh, there is still a grayness that hovers around me. I believe this causes others to keep their distance or to avoid forming close friendships with me. Yes, my happiness is tinged with melancholia, but this does not mean I am unable to form relationships and find some pleasure in life. What I want from others, and what I believe most of us who battle depression want, is understanding and empathy, not pity. We also want to be included in events and invited to parties and dinner. We are people capable of great love and compassion, and aren’t those traits one looks for in a friend?

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via egorr.

Originally published: August 7, 2017
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