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Why I See Depression as a Chainmail Veil

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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.

Medical language aside, there is little that expresses how a depressive person actually feels, and how difficult it is to throw off depression. I have seen a video that shows depression to be a big, heavy dog that refuses to let go, and someone I know has likened it to a dark cloud that sometimes goes away, but usually hangs over everything.

Personally, I liken it to this:

Picture yourself putting on a beanie or something else that wraps itself around the top of the skull. Attached to the beanie is a chainmail veil, that drops over your eyes and ears. Once you’ve put it on, it’s not something you can take off at any time. Meanwhile, a steel band is put around your heart and starts to constrict, just a little, even as a cape of liquid metal drapes itself on your shoulders. It’s not heavy, but the weight is definitely felt.

Now everything you see and hear is filtered through this gray haze. All positivity is filtered out, whether through words or your eyes. Pleasure is taken away by the veil, and whatever you see, touch, taste and hear is now tinged with gray negativity. It’s never totally black, oh no. It’s a drip torture, little by little. You start losing touch with the world, bit by bit. If it was sudden, it might be easier to take since you know for sure you’re sick and need help. But it drips on you, little by little, giving hope that things may improve, even as it takes away hope with every drop.

And the band around your heart grows tighter, day by day. Every day, the cape drags down, without you noticing it, bit by bit. Your breath comes harder, and every day grows dimmer, heavier, as you drag your feet, as you try to carry on. Soon, you forget to look up, always looking down instead. You forget how to find pleasure, and everything feels like mud and molasses, whatever you do. Drink tastes like dry water, and food tastes like sand. Occasional bursts of enjoyment get through, and the laughter is real, but nothing lasts beyond that sparkle of time which makes it even more painful because you don’t know how to reach back for it.

Despair starts to set in. Your self-worth drops. Hopelessness is your constant companion, as pain wracks your heart. Breathing becomes even more difficult, and now death itself seems like a good way out. It doesn’t matter how positive life is for you anymore. You can’t count your blessings because every breath is difficult, every step is painful, everything is gray with despair. Every blessing becomes pale, every good thing becomes a shadow of goodness you desperately wish to taste and enjoy, but can’t.

Words matter at this point. Words that tell you that you’re worth something. The constant reminder there are others around who care. If you don’t even have that, then suicide may become a reality you dance with. In fact, even with that, death becomes delicious, something to savor, because the pain is already so deep that nothing else can fill your heart. The pain could have a source – because something bad has happened — or it could have no real reason. But the pain is all you feel, the grayness is all you see, and ashes are all you taste.

But even words can’t do much, as the pall continues to grow, as you struggle to breathe, to walk, to think.

That is how depression feels to me.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

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 reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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Photo by William Randles on Unsplash

Originally published: November 2, 2017
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