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How Depression Is Like Silence and Nothingness

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Depression gets a lot of metaphors. Many of those who struggle with it describe it as a cloud over their head; as swimming in deep water that they can’t break the surface in or as a constant buzzing in their thoughts. These metaphors are an attempt to describe the impossible — to describe an indescribable feeling to those who have never experienced it.

For me, depression is a silence. It’s not the good type of silence you find when a dog finally stops barking or when you sink into a hot bath after a long day. My depression is a bad silence — a heavy weight that dulls my emotions, my reflexes and my thoughts. It is the silence of thick mud oozing across a forest after heavy rain. It is cotton wool in my head and the unsettling way your hearing goes funny when your ears pop.

This silence is stifling and overwhelming like how a car feels on a really hot day. That feeling you get when you are in a crowd of people who you can hear all around you but you aren’t really listening to. This silence feeds on your emotions, clouds your thoughts and leaves you feeling numb. You are detached from others around you, not really taking in what they are saying. Food has no taste, pain feels distant and sleep is your only refuge so you do it far too much.

People think depression means feeling sad all the time but it doesn’t — depression means feel nothing at all. Depression is silence — uncomfortable silence you cannot ignore or get away from. It is constant and unrelenting.

So when I find myself singing along with the radio or humming a song I don’t know the words to, I breathe a sigh of relief. Singing to myself means this episode of silence has finally broken. I survived. I am me again. When I find myself singing again I sing a little louder, even though I sing out of tune. The silence didn’t beat me and though I know the silence will come back eventually, I sing regardless. It is only because of the silence that I know how sweet the music is — even when it is me singing out of tune — so I continue to sing.

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Thinkstock photo via lekcej

Originally published: June 12, 2017
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