The Mighty Logo

When Depression Hijacks Your Thought Processes

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Depression is more akin to a semi-coma than any kind of grief or sadness.  First, and this is a common metaphor, things grow dark.  You know when you see a thunderstorm coming in the distance, with its ominous and eerie clouds? That’s what’s coming for your brain with depression. When it hits, it surrounds your soul with the grip of a lecherous octopus that invades your body with its tentacles so that everything – sleep, appetite, energy, mood, thought – are thrown into great disarray. At this point, you are basically possessed.

The real problem with depression is that there is no adequate adjective for it.  If you don’t have it, you can no more relate to the depths of its depravity than you can to being burned alive. It’s that elusive. The will to live is endemic in all species, as all will fight to the death. Depression kindly dispenses with this instinct and replaces it with what’s known in the parlance as suicidal ideation.  Suicidal ideations are suicidal thoughts that ravage you – should I hang myself? How about poison? A gun? Merely staring at the ceiling could have you imaging a noose. These thoughts are not your own; they are invasive parasites. And they proliferate until the deed is done.

Suicide is often viewed as an act of a weak and flawed human, but in reality it is the act of one in the grips of horror. It has already dispensed with your life force, and one final act remains. I’ve heard many deride suicide as the act of a selfish human being, of one who gives no thought to loved ones left in its wake. While there is some truth to this, people need to understand that depression renders you nearly powerless to do anything but die. Your thought processes have been hijacked by an invader that does not permit thoughts of the aftermath.

Depression is as old as humankind, yet our treatments are relatively modern.  And they do work. The octopus will disentangle from you, but without social understanding of the mechanisms of  the illness, many people with depression are still misunderstood, blamed and shunned.  It is a travesty that perpetuates antipathy. It is like blaming the fire instead of the arsonist. People with depression deserve our empathy, our care, our respect and our help, lest you be next.

Photo credit: Olga Seredenko/Getty Images

Originally published: July 7, 2021
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home