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What It's Like to Wake Up With Depression

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I, like many others, battle depression every single day. Symptoms like fatigue, guilt, anxiety, hopelessness and others can weigh me down some days. Other days can be easy and even downright normal. This is not one of the easy days.

Today, I woke up in the full grips of a depressive episode. Having barely slept, I finally gave up and dragged myself out of bed before 5 a.m. This is one of my first symptoms, insomnia coupled with complete exhaustion. I manage to take my morning meds and start a pot of coffee. Before it is halfway finished brewing, I am sobbing with my head down on my kitchen table. Part of this comes from overwhelming fatigue and part comes from knowing what kind of day depression has in store for me.

I drag myself to my couch and stare at the television. Something is on. I think it might be funny on a normal day. Today, I can barely focus to watch. Mostly, I just stare. I am so fatigued that my body actually hurts. As I sit here, my mood shifts from sad to empty and apathetic. This lasts several hours.

As she leaves for work, my roommate tries to convince me to take care of myself today. She wants me to eat, to rest and to take things one hour at a time. (Honestly, I am lucky to live with such a good friend.) Her advice brings me to tears. I feel overwhelmed and hopeless that I will be able to complete even these simple tasks. I feel guilty for not being able to do more than survive this day. I can barely take care of myself. Days like today, I feel like a burden more than ever.

I sit crying on my couch. My dog is lying next to me. Loops of negative talk begin to fill my mind.  

How will I get through this? Nothing I ever do is right. Why should I do anything anyways? Who would want to be around someone who is so sad and useless all the time? Things will never get better. I don’t think I can bear to feel this hopeless for another second. I will never be happy again.

Depression prevents me from remembering the good days, even if yesterday was one. At some point, I stop crying. I don’t remember when. I didn’t even notice. I’ve been sitting in the same place for so long that my back hurts. I can barely stand up. Every part of my body feels like it is made of lead, and I am trying to swim through quicksand. I drag myself to the kitchen. Even though it seems pointless and I am not hungry, I make myself eat cereal in what may or may not have been a clean bowl.

What difference does it make?

The day drags on. It is barely 2 p.m. I am still in my pajamas, and I don’t think I have brushed my teeth yet. It looks like it might be a beautiful, sunny, fall day outside. My depression sees the sunshine and mocks me.

Thought you would enjoy a warm sunny fall day? Thought you would accomplish things around your house? Thought you would go for a walk or out for a cup of coffee? Forget it!

I draw the blinds closed. I don’t even want to see the sun. I hate that my depression is taking the day away from me. I sit in the quiet darkness staring at the television once again. It’s not even on this time.

Deep down, I know there are some things I should do to fight this episode. Things I know have helped in the past. Things that can keep one lost day from turning into a lost week or longer. Finding the energy to do any of these things is nearly impossible. I end up sleeping on the couch instead. At least when I am asleep, the sadness, hopelessness, guilt and shame are gone.

I wake up a few hours later just as exhausted as before I lay down. I wonder how long this depressive episode will last. My mind starts to become anxious.

What if this episode doesn’t lift? What if I am never happy again? What if every day is this difficult? What if I become suicidal again? What if my family and friends finally give up on me this time?

My brain does not think clearly or logically during a depressive episode. I try to stay calm and think back to my self-care list. What can break this depressive cycle? What has helped in the past?

I try listening to music. It always helps. I get online and read articles on The Mighty. It gives me a sense that I am not alone in this struggle. I take my evening meds and eat another bowl of cereal, this time out of a clean bowl. Just a few tiny steps toward self-care is a start.

I head back to bed early. I have survived this day and many others like it before. I go to bed knowing tomorrow might be better. If not, then I will survive tomorrow as well. Sometimes, this is the best I can do, survive the bad days and wait for the good ones to eventually come back around.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: November 29, 2016
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