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What I Mean When I Say 'I Have Depression'

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This piece was written by Nikita Gilla Thought Catalog contributor.

Have you ever felt hunted inside your own head?

Like a predator is loose in there, stalking you like prey? 

Like there is a thing inside of your mind, a dark, dangerous, devious thing, and it’s stalking you. Your mind, a forest of beautiful trees, alive with birds and wild things alike, is eerily silent, a shroud of night covering it like a blanket on a too hot night — this is what suffocating is. But on the outside, you are breathing in oxygen as you always do. Your mind has sliced itself away from your body, and you have no control over what happens in there anymore. But you are still in this forest. You are alive in there… and there is a thing, an evil thing stalking you.

It starts to set parts of your head aflame, a forest fire threatening to take over you as it tries to smoke you out of your own head. Panicked, you are running, knowing you are being hunted, you are being chased, and you do not even know what the thing that is hunting you looks like. If you could give this fear, this terror a name, it would be better — a lion, a tiger, a shark, a thing that wants your blood and meat, nothing else from you, but this goes deeper. This thing wants every peaceful part of your mind. This thing wants to set you on fire and watch you burn, laugh at your ashes and then bring you to life so it can do it again. Or worse, swallow you whole and keep you in an abyss of eternal sadness inside your own head.

You are running inside the labyrinth of your mind, as it grows more and more complex, away from the thing, yet drawing closer to it — you can smell it the way it grows closer to you with ease. It doesn’t even need to run. Somewhere in the distance in the hot dusty trail within this maze of a forest, you see the house, the place inside your head where you keep the softest, kindest memories. This is where you keep your cushions for when life throws you hard against the wall and you are lying bleeding on the floor. This is the place you must go to… singed by the flames, you run faster and faster, the thing hot on yours heels until with all the strength you ever had, you throw yourself into this safe space with all the energy you have left within you and slam the door.

Panting, exhausted, you collapse, for the first time, feeling the rush of relief since it started its hunt. In here, you do not feel like prey. In here, you are safe. Until you open your eyes when you hear the breathing close to you, feel the stink of its breath. It’s in here with you, and your eyes open wide as you realize too late… it has devoured you already, all of you now belongs to it. And all that is left is darkness.

This is what depression feels like. This is what it means when someone says they have depression. This is what people with depression mean when they say they feel devoured by sadness, unable to escape the pain inside their own heads.

Have you ever felt hunted inside your own head?

If not… I envy you your good fortune. But please do not be unkind when I tell you about the monster, the predator that lives inside my head

This story is brought to you by Thought Catalog and Quote Catalog.

Originally published: September 20, 2016
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