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How It Feels to Be Trapped in the Dark Box of Depression

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

The hardest part of all this is having to explain it to others.

How do I tell them how I feel when there are no words to describe it and I’m scared of my own thoughts? I know how I feel, I know what I think, but describing that and having to explain it is so painful and I can not grasp the words to do so. Somehow, typing how I feel is so much easier than explaining it out loud. Maybe it’s because I can add to this on my bad days and my good days, getting all perspectives of it, without choking and having to hold back the tears when speaking. It’s somehow easier — not easy, just a bit easier.

I feel like I’m in a small dark box, no light on and hardly any room to move. The longer I am kept in that dark box, the harder it is for me to breathe. I’m still a part of what’s around me; surrounded by this black box, I hear and can feel the presence of others but I am restricted from interacting. The black box doesn’t allow it and I’m slowly struggling to breathe. It’s like a dark hole or a long tunnel, but I cannot see any light. I just want to get out, but where’s the exit?

I no longer control my thoughts, they control me. Sleep has now become an escape; when I’m asleep, it’s gone. The black box disappears and I feel peaceful, and then I wake up. The worst part of this is that I wish I could sleep for weeks or even months and then wake up and magically feel better again, back to my old self, my happy self. When I go to bed each night, I don’t look forward to waking up in the morning. I don’t know if I’ll wake up feeling OK or wake up stuck in this small, black box again. Each day feels the same to me, over and over again. My feelings are like a monotone voice, flat and plain. When I am in a bad state of mind, I don’t feel happy, excited, scared, nervous or even hungry — I just feel numb.

People assume that depression is being sad and crying all the time, but for me, it’s not. Yes, I am often sadder than I ever have been, but the feeling is indescribable. I feel numb, I feel nothing. I feel like my body is grounded on this earth but my mind and soul are up in the air, unattached. I can’t grasp a hold of my thoughts as they have taken over and it’s impossible to shake it off. I don’t know if this is how everyone with depression feels, but for me, this is how it is. Even on my good days (or good hours), I am happy but not the happy I used to feel; it’s a different kind of happy, a bit fake or rehearsed. I still feel slightly distant even though I’m enjoying myself. It’s tough to enjoy myself.

When I’m “sad” and physically crying, I’m not crying because I’m caught in the dark box. When I’m stuck in that dark box I’m generally just lethargic, tired and isolating myself, but when I’m crying, I’m crying because I’m tired. I’m crying because my depression isn’t just affecting me, it’s affecting those around me, the ones I love. It’s straining my relationships, it’s damaging me as a person and who I used to be. I’m crying because I’m scared I will never find myself again and I will slowly lose grip of my foundation as a person. I’m crying because I feel like a burden. I cry because I’m over pretending to be happy and putting on a mask when some days all I want to do is lock myself away. I’m crying because I’m reflecting on how I was feeling when I was in that dark box and how it was so difficult to come back from it and burst out of that state of mind. I’m overthinking and my thoughts are tiring. So when I’m crying, don’t be too concerned. Yes, I’m sad, but I’ve generally just climbed out of that dark box and I am trying to process my thoughts and grip onto my mind, making sure it doesn’t slip back away…

The dark box is a very dark place. When I’m locked in here, this is when I feel my worst. You may look at me and think I’m just a bit quiet, or tired so I’m laying in bed — and I’m not crying or upset so surely I am fine – but this is my scariest state of mind. The dark box is isolating, it’s lonely, and when I drift into this dark box something inside here takes my mind, leaving my body crammed up with no light. It takes my mind elsewhere, not giving me any control over it. The more I fight to bring it back and grab a hold of it, the further it slips away, so I can’t fight it anymore. The second I stop fighting it, the depression takes over. All I can do is lie in bed. It’s difficult for me to make conversation. It’s difficult for me to eat. It’s difficult for me to get up. It’s difficult for me to focus. As this may be seen as me being lazy, it’s not. My mind is elsewhere, like I said — unattached from my body, so everything feels a hundred times harder than what it should be.

I feel like I have nothing to look forward too. I know that sounds “crazy” — of course I have a future — but when I feel like I’ve been living the same day over and over again for months, I’m tired. I feel like I’m wasting my days away. I don’t want to live like this — I want to be happy, I do — it’s just so hard. I can’t see the light; this tunnel feels like it’s never-ending.

I can’t focus. Every time I try to focus my mind and thoughts on something, I drift back away. It’s a struggle just to get my mind to stay on task.

I am not coping as well as people may think. It’s getting tougher and tougher each day. It’s getting harder to just get on with things. I used to be able to shove the depression aside and fake a smile but lately, it’s taking over. It’s getting heavier, like a constant weight I have to carry around. I don’t want it there. I hate feeling like this. I’m becoming so frustrated and angry because all I want to be is happy, but something keeps stopping me. I’m fed up.

I hate asking for help; I hate admitting when I’m in a dark place because then I feel it doesn’t just impact me, it impacts those around me. Why should they have to listen to my shit? They didn’t ask for this. But then again, neither did I. It’s just easier sometimes — keeping my thoughts to myself. If I told them every time I was feeling low or having dark thoughts, I feel like they would get sick of me. So, I feel I’ve got to try and deal with this on my own. I can’t drag them down with me.

“Why are you sad?” “What’s wrong?” — these questions are so hard for me to hear. I know they care but I don’t know what’s wrong, I don’t know why I’m sad; I feel as if there is something wrong with me. I shouldn’t feel this way, everything in my life is great, but I am still stuck in this dark place, just fighting and struggling to get out. Sometimes no words are better, but then sometimes I want people to say “I hope you’re OK.” Sometimes I just want to be hugged, and other days I want to be left completely alone. I know, how confusing. I don’t really know what I want and when I want it. I just need help.

I’m always tired; even when I do manage to get a good night sleep, I wake up tired. It’s a different kind of tired, it’s exhaustion. My soul is tired and no amount of sleep will fix it.

It’s with me everywhere I go, there is no escaping it. These monsters live inside my head and there is no escaping my own mind. And sometimes, I may look and seem fine, smiling and talking, but deep inside my thoughts is nothing but darkness. Even on my “good” days, it’s there — it’s become a part of me now, so how do I get rid of it? Even when I am doing good, my mind still wonders when my depression will take over again.

I never expected to go through something as tough as this; I’ve always been the loud, outgoing, fun person and in an instant, it all changed. How could this happen to me? How could I become so “damaged” so quickly?

I feel like no one understands the hell I feel inside my head. I’m so tired, physically and emotionally. I’m tired of putting up a fight; I just want to close my eyes and wake up months or years later and this will all be gone. These demons are overpowering; someone please let me out of this box.

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, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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Thinkstock photo via Favor_of_God

Originally published: April 7, 2023
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