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How to Describe Depression to Someone Who’s Never Had It

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Anyone who lives with depression or anxiety knows it can be almost impossible to explain it to someone who has never experienced it. Here is how I explained it to my partner.

My partner is a strong, resilient and kind person. We have a lot in common: we both love food, comedy and our love for each other. But there is one thing that we will never have in common, and that is his understanding of how it feels to have depression and anxiety. So, this is how I tried to explain it to him:

Imagine that you wake up one day and you’re the only person left in the world. Not only this, but the sun does not rise. There is only dark.

The first weeks are about surviving. You find what little resources you can, and then you scavenge for food. You eat only to survive. Even when you find luxury food items, you do not enjoy them as much as you did before.

Over the next few months, night and day merge into one and you have no concept of time. After a while, your clothes become torn and tattered, but you do not care. You stink, but you do not care. Inside you feel numb — dead already, but not quite dead. The loneliness is unbearable.

Your mind is your companion, and he is not your best friend. Thoughts fill your head of past memories, people, smells, thoughts of fears, self-loathing and hopelessness. Months go by, and you are stuck in the same cycle in the darkness. Everything that came before then is no longer, although you hold onto memories of how you used to be before this, hoping that one day you will feel alive again.

Soon the darkness starts to become your friend. You feel comfortable there with no light. These feelings are normal now, and surviving is not important anymore. You are only existing. With no hope, no companionship, no nothing. Numb, alone, hopeless and comfortable there in the dark.

However, one day you awake and you see a flicker of light in the distance. The question is: do you crawl to make it there? Or do you stay with your thoughts in the comfortable darkness that you know so well?

My partner turned to me and said, “That sounds truly awful. Louise, you should always crawl towards the light.”

Getty image via Nikodash.

Originally published: October 28, 2019
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