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What It's Like to Function Through a Depressive Episode

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Crouched down on my knees, in the accessible restroom stall of my school’s dining hall; that’s where I found myself at 11 a.m. this morning, forcing myself to keep quiet as I held back tears and took slow, heaving breaths.

It’s been a while since I’ve (technically) cried in public, but that’s what happens when you have depression and anxiety — it can creep up on you at any time, unannounced and certainly unwelcome. It’s hard because all I wanted to do after I got myself together was go back to my room and sleep for the rest of the day. The thought of keeping it together long enough to sit through a day’s worth of classes was scary and exhausting all at once. Having to hold in all these feelings, worries and negative thoughts while everyone else is seemingly happy and content around you is, in my opinion, the most isolating and lonely feeling in the world. You feel like you shouldn’t be like this. You constantly question why you always seem to be in this position, which brings up the ever-popular question, “What’s wrong with me?”

Why can’t I be the person I want to be?

Why do I always feel three steps behind everyone else?

Why do I feel so ugly and wrong?

Why can’t I just be happy?

Despite how awful I felt, I already pulled myself out of bed and put on fresh clothes and a face of makeup. I went through with classes as scheduled because the guilt of skipping would only make me feel worse, and I knew I would lose sleep over it … again. But I didn’t exactly feel good about sticking to schedule either. Like I said before, it’s exhausting. I use up all my energy to sit still and try to appear focused. Meanwhile, my eyes are glued to that clock, counting down the minutes that are passing way too slow until I can walk back to my room, put on sweats and crawl into bed, just to wake up the next morning and repeat the cycle.

I don’t think people who get up out of bed, despite how depressed they feel, get enough credit. It’s like going through life as a zombie. In my experience, you don’t really want to see people or be seen by them either. You don’t want to talk because the act of speaking wears you out, much like putting on a smile or forcing out a laugh.

We may get up and go out into the world, but that’s a battle in itself and with every task and problem that arises during the day, the war in our head continues. I guess what I’m trying to say is that depression and anxiety are extremely difficult conditions to live with, and if you know someone who may not be so fun to be around when they are going through an episode, keep in mind this is hard for them. Be compassionate and as understanding as you can be. They may not show it or ever tell you, but it helps just that little bit to get them by for the time being.

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Thinkstock photo via avemario.

Originally published: April 7, 2017
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