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When Depression Steals Your Voice

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No matter what else was going on in my life, I used to have words. Even through the worst of my depression, the words spilled out of me, tumbling into rambling journal entries and poetry, into essays and memoirs. I could always reach inside and come out with raw emotion that bled onto the page, pulsing, aching and harsh. That emotion could be frightening, but at least I could see it. I could share my experiences. And in that way, I wasn’t alone.

I don’t know what to do now that depression has stolen my voice. I poise myself over a blank page, clench a pen and notebook in my hands, and nothing comes out. My brain is full of white noise that drowns out anything I might say. It’s like a switch has been flipped. Where there used to be words, there is emptiness.

All I find are a swarm of thoughts that say nothing matters, nothing ever mattered. I find thoughts that tell me I have nothing to say, I’m no one and there’s no point in even trying. I don’t know what to do now that I’ve lost the only comfort I’ve ever had. I’ve lost the ability to write. Without words, I can’t express what’s going on inside of me. I can’t reach out for help. I can’t do anything except watch television and movies, allowing myself to get lost in voices that can still speak.

Depression isn’t always an abundance or an outpouring. It isn’t always tears, sobs and screams. Sometimes it’s a silence where there once was noise. It’s a frightening absence of something that used to be there. For some, it’s a loss of passion or interest. For me, it’s a death of words.

My body isn’t numb. I still feel pain and sadness. I still feel fear, anger and defeat. Those things haven’t been lost, as much as I wish they were. My ability to express myself has retreated instead, leaving months of wasted time, of blank pages, of voicelessness. So much of my identity is wrapped up in being a writer, someone who’s been able to capture her experiences, to share them and connect with others through them. Without that, I don’t know who I am anymore. A huge part of who I am has been stolen from me.

I don’t know how long this will last. I hope it’s something that will eventually pass. However, if I know anything about depression, it will have ebbs and flows like everything else. Some days, I might find my words again, and others they’ll vanish like they were never there.

In the meantime, I try to be gentle with myself. I let the silence settle over me and don’t force words where there are none. I do my best to keep the hope that this will someday pass. The words will return to me, and I’ll have a flood of new stories to tell.

Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: August 29, 2016
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