Mental Health

What is Depression Like?

Depression is not the same for everyone. We might have shared experiences, but we are unique. No two people are exactly the same. We all have different needs. We all have different fears. We all lead different lives. Some of us are more different than others. We are all different, yet we have one important thing in common: we all know what depression feels like. We each have something unique to offer. I want us to recognize, embrace, and respect our differences and similarities. They can make us stronger.

When I Tell My Story

I share my experiences with depression for two main reasons; to spread awareness, and to let people know they are not alone. I share my experiences honesty and with vulnerability, but they are my unique experiences. Depression could look completely different for someone else.

For me, depression is exhausting and debilitating. I feel like I’m in a fog. Most nights, I am restless and unable to ease my mind. I often go days without sleep. During the day I find myself exhausted, unmotivated, and often unable to find joy in things that are normally pleasurable. Seemingly small tasks can seem insurmountable. I fall behind on personal hygiene. My nutrition suffers. I have trouble focusing, so I watch films and TV shows that I’ve already seen because they don’t require me to focus. I often don’t answer calls or reply to messages because I don’t have the energy. My depression is often accompanied by thoughts of worthlessness, doubt, and shame.

This is my unique experience with depression. Depression could look completely different for someone else. I want to know what it looks like for you…

What is Depression Like?

I recently asked people on Twitter and Facebook; “What is depression like for you?”. I was extremely impressed by the amount of replies I received. People from various backgrounds, locations across the globe, and cultures came together for this discussion. It was truly amazing. Depression is an important topic. I’m overjoyed that we are discussing it. Below you will find some of the replies I received:

“What is depression like for you?”

“For me depression is feeling a cold sensation all through my body and not having the strength to speak, move, eat or do anything which is needed to be done. I just want to sleep so I don’t get overwhelmed by this feeling anymore.” -Kat on Twitter

“For me, depression is like sinking into a pit of quicksand but having to act like you’re fine. I feel like my body is being controlled by an evil part of my brain. I am not myself. I am pessimistic and hopeless. My successes may look great to you, but they mean nothing to me.” -The Moody Diabetic on Twitter

“For me, depression is constantly feeling numb/empty, feeling like I’ll never be anything or become anyone. I’m not sure if the numbness comes from my medications, but either way it’s a depressing way to live and most days I wish I could just run away from life entirely.” -Georgia on Twitter

“For me, depression can take on various forms. One version is just feeling INCREDIBLY EMPTY, like a shell of my former self. I am stripped of; passion for anything, ability to function, my personality, ability to smile and laugh, love for life… everything. Another version is an agitated, anxious depression. I have difficulty sleeping and all of my time awake is spent with my mind consumed in an anxious downward spiral; everything is bad and is my fault, the future will be terrible, I am worthless and useless, I can’t do anything. It’s like either being a complete zombie (who can’t feel, think, or function) or being an anxiety-filled train wreck that is consumed by the negative, depressive thoughts and feelings (e.g., extreme guilt, hopelessness) at every waking moment.” -Anja Burčak, The Calculating Mind Blog on Twitter

“For me depression is feeling empty and unable to enjoy things I like to do. Unable to concentrate on small things I need to do. Sleeping all the time but feeling exhausted as soon I wake up. Unable to feel anything except sadness and anger.” -Mischievous Words by Marta, blog on Twitter

“For me depression is just really hard work. There is so much effort involved in keeping well and living better with it, rather than giving in or giving up.” -Ruth Rosselson, writer on Twitter

“For me depression is starting on things but never getting them finished.” -Daniel McDonald on Twitter

“In regards to the stigma aspect of depression: for me depression is drowning in an ocean with people who appear to be happily swimming and look at you with condescension. I then feel shame for drowning and become reluctant to ask for help because I ‘should’ know how to swim.” –Fay Lin on Twitter

“My depression feels like something nagging trying to pull me back. When all I want to do is go forward. I’ve even caused arguments for no reason sometimes just to get out of something that was setting of my anxiety. I also don’t like talking about it. Especially face to face with someone. I’d love to know where it comes from. As in the outside I shouldn’t have anything to be depressed about.” –Yes More Blogs, blog on Twitter

“Depression isn’t sad. It’s feeling like a weight lays in my chest. Making it harder to breathe. To get up. To walk. To do anything. I think of things I should do but simply thinking of them makes me tired. It’s headaches and brain fog. Depression has destroyed my memory. It has made me an awful student. And an even more awful employee. When I have nothing to do, I can’t move. I don’t move. I stay in bed. It takes me two hours to sit up in bed. I can barely get myself to brush my teeth let alone leave the house. It’s exhausting to be alive.” –Carizma on Twitter

“I either don’t get enough sleep or sleep too much. My anxiety goes through the roof. I begin to have nightmares that include hallucinations. I become angry and irritable. The smallest thing can set me off, and all of a sudden I’m fifteen again, slamming doors as well as screaming at the top of my lungs. I neglect my personal hygiene. I forget things easily. This begins to cause issues with work. I will be honest; for years I have been on two different types of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. It wears on me at times. I want to be ‘normal’ and not have to rely on medication. However, at this time I’m doing pretty good.” -Lora Mullins on Facebook

“My brain quits. I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me and this overwhelming doom and sadness comes over me out of nowhere. Then I retreat from life and stay hidden until the cloud of doom floats away. Then I can begin to face life again.” -Anita-Gobel Skaggs on Facebook

“I am one of those people who keeps super busy. I find being busy stops me from reflecting and wondering what the point is. My friends sometimes let depression stop them doing things. I say, ‘do things anyway’. For me, I am an anxious person. But I just have to make myself do things. The worst thing for me is that I cannot sleep. So if I am not working and feel tired I take advantage of that and nap.” -Jamie Adams, author on Twitter

“For me depression is being irritable and snappy. I’ve also been suffering with insomnia without even realizing I was depressed.” -Carly Berry on Facebook

“For me, I can barely get out of bed, I don’t apply myself at all during work and show up late. I sleep a lot. Then I have moments of uncontrollable emotions. I overeat. Ignore daily things I really need to get done. It’s a struggle but I push myself as hard as I can and still feel like I can’t do anything.” -Sabrina Howard on Facebook

“Depression is like fighting someone everyday who is trying to sabotage and kill me but knowing it’s me… it is exhausting.” -Julie-Anne Stjärnor on Twitter

“For me depression was living in a hole, lack of light, hope and energy and purpose. Endless nights of just wanting to end this night. Luckily not anymore. Somehow I found a way to lift myself out.” -Aneela on Twitter

“For me depression is longing to do/create but not being able to get out of bed. Having a quick fuse at even the smallest annoyances. Being tired but never getting enough sleep.” –Danielle O, entrepreneur, artist, singer on Twitter

“It’s [depression] like suffocating, drowning, and not caring if you do.” -Tobin Marks, sci-fi author on Twitter

“Overwhelming sadness, not knowing which direction to go, brain fog big time.” -Angie Lee Somers on Facebook

“For me depression is wanting to crawl under the covers and never come out again. It’s being mean to the ones I love the most because I put on a happy face at work and I’m too exhausted to be happy anymore. It’s crying uncontrollably at little things because the big things are too much to bear. It brings anxiety and self-doubt. It brings questions of, am I still lovable and can I still love. It’s debilitating and many people don’t understand it if they haven’t gone through it.” -Debra Dugger VanHoose on Facebook

“For me, I constantly feel like nothing is right even if I know nothing is wrong. I feel restless and get tearful easily, which is pretty out of character for me. I tend to either sleep too much (upwards of 12 hours a day), but I have also had one or two times where I’ve been unable to sleep for 24-48 hour and just laid in bed because I didn’t have the energy to get up and function. I also tend to either eat way too much or not enough—there’s no in between and each episode I’ve had is different. I tend to isolate when my depression is the worst. During those times I tell myself that no one would want to be around me anyway because I’m such a miserable mess even though I know isolating is just going to make the depression worse.” -Sara Adkins on Facebook

“For me it’s [depression is] feeling as if I am in a hole and can’t see the top. I don’t really want to go anywhere, or do anything.” -Madge Sbonek on Facebook

“It’s [depression is] like feeling very unlucky. Life seems colourless and aimless. Feeling tiredness without doing anything. Friends appear insincere and blood relations selfish.” -Eram Butar on Twitter

“For me depression is not being able to leave the house because just the vibration of another person breathing is overwhelming.” -Lauree, artist/writer on Twitter

“I have days when I’m good as gold then all of a sudden, it [depression] hits me like a ton of bricks and I feel like I’m about to drown in a big dark black hole. Other days, my get up and go just got up and left… My personal hygiene goes along with my will to crawl out of bed. I also have moments where I can’t sleep, I eat all day long and then hate myself for doing it. I have no self-esteem. Most of my family tells me that I’m too hard on myself… I’m in a fog most days and can’t think straight. When I am thinking straight, EVERY single person I come in contact with, just irritates me to no end. I hate crowds, can’t stand being the center of attention. I have so much stress because of my disorder that my neck and back are constantly in knots!” -Dean N Estie Kennard on Facebook

“I feel exhausted even if I’ve slept, but sometimes it’s the too-much sleep that’s making me feel that way. More of a ‘grogginess.’ I’ve also tried to explain to people about that ‘nothing seems to matter’ thing. I tell them if they asked me during those times, ‘What’s wrong?’ I could answer ‘Nothing’ or ‘Everything’ and both answers would be correct.” -Paula Geister on Facebook

“For me depression is sleeping 16 hours a day and still being so exhausted it physically hurts. Being so unmotivated and bored in everything that I just stare at a wall because even watching TV is too much work. Hygiene is optional.” -Sarah G., Freelance Editor on Twitter

“For me depression is suffocating. It starts with anxiety, and if left uncontrolled, becomes like a huge rock placed right on top me until I’m numb from everything around me. I just disappear under that rock.” -Nayle on Twitter

“For me depression is is like have sludge in my veins that leads to a swirling pit in my stomach. Limbs feel heavy and my stomach queasy. Every situation, good or bad, simply intensifies the sensation and makes me want to quit and stay in bed. But I got through it and now doing yoga.” -Kaley Hobbs on Twitter

“When my depression hits (when I wake up for some reason) For me it’s hard to get out bed. I lay there and I then feel guilty and end up thinking negatively about whatever, making it worse. I start crying and feel some kind of way that I can’t explain. Maybe helpless is a good word for that feeling?. I have two babies so I do end up getting up. I almost feel hungover (I don’t drink). I do the bare minimum feeding my babies and it’s screen time all day. I get aggravated easily too. I don’t want to have to make any decisions because it’s hard. (“We can do hard things”, but not today). It’ll take me all day to take a shower, and maybe even empty the dishwasher. I’m too exhausted to try any of the self help tools I have in my mental health tool box. So I ride it out. The guilt really sucks. But I know for me, it’ll only last a few days.” -Candace Conrad Phillips on Facebook

“For me depression is assuming everyone sees me as incompetent.” -Andrew Lyon on Twitter

“Like I want to think, but can’t. Trouble accessing information that I know I know. Struggle to perform tasks I know I am capable of if they related to school/work especially.” -Peggy Brady on Twitter

“For me depression is like a tsunami wave. It washes over me completely and engulfs me whole. It takes away any joy I ever felt or could feel. It leaves me unable to move or talk. Sinking and drowning further and further to the depths of the ocean that is depression.” -Be Your Own Hero on Twitter

“I feel like my body is made of lead and it’s a struggle just to keep moving. Everything feels heavy and it’s really hard to think. There’s just an overall feeling of despair and misery. At my worst it feels like I’m slipping downwards into a spiral at the bottom of which is death. I feel like I’m fighting my own brain for control. I feel completely alone and hopeless. I feel exhausted. I’m just trying to stay alive and refuse the powerful impulse to give up.” -Matticious on Twitter

“Depression for me looks like crippling doubt and anxiety. Cutting off friends and family and deeply fearing interaction with others. It is sleeping all day though I’ve things to do and trying so hard to act normal for my kids. Depression looks bleak and scary.” -Matt Hankins on Twitter

“My symptoms have evolved over the years, so I’ll describe what my brain is currently like. I often cannot experience emotions to the depths others do. This includes happiness but also sadness, counter to what many think about depression. It’s not constant, and I can still enjoy life, just sometimes it’s like the colors of the world are muted. One of the most persistent symptoms I have these days is a fogginess that makes it hard to settle on a thought. It’s difficult to make to-do lists and I constantly feel like I’m forgetting something important. It’s like radio stations that have a lot of static because you’re too far from the tower. You can kind of follow what’s going on but you’d rather change the frequency to listen to something clearer. I can’t adjust the dial…” -Lauren Woolsey on Twitter

“For me depression is a quicksand of dark insecure thoughts immobilizing me from purposeful activity.” -Heather Walker on Twitter

What I Learned from This

Depression is truly impervious to who you are or where you come from. People from various backgrounds, locations across the globe, and cultures explained what depression is like for them. Many people were similar, and many people were different. Our circumstances may be different, we may live on different sides of the world, but we all have one thing in common: we know what depression feels like. That makes us a team. It shows me that none of us are alone.

I read many of these replies with brave tears in my eyes. I’m continually astonished and inspired by the strength of the people who communicate with me. Some are complete strangers who bravely share their insecurities, fears, failures, and successes. Some are long-time friends and acquaintances who are telling me about a side of their lives that they have kept hidden. I sit behind my computer reading the words of these strong and valid individuals and I realize two things; I’m not alone, and I want to do everything in my power to show other people that they are not alone.

My eyes have been opened to a world of strong individuals who are living courageous lives while also fighting a battle that no one knows about. These people are strong, and beautiful, and kind, and so extremely courageous. Each person is valid, and truly amazing. I am genuinely inspired by the stories I read, and by the strength of the people that send them to me. I am so grateful to everyone that has opened up to me. I sincerely hope it never stops. I try my best to help you, but you have helped me more than you know. I love your messages. I love your stories. I love how brave you are. I love all of you. Thank you, forever and always.

If This Is You

If you live with depression, remember: you are not alone. If you are struggling with depression, and you are reading this, please promise me that you will not give up. So much can change in a day. So much can change overnight. Depression and goodness ebbs and flows. If today is tough, hold on. There is amazing potential that tomorrow might be better. You are not alone. Also, remember that is okay to reach out and ask for help. Call a helpline. Go to the doctor. Talk to a friend. We don’t all have access to the same resources, but please don’t give up on yourself. There is strength in asking for help. There is strength in support. There is strength in just breathing. You are worth it. You are spectacular.

Keep Sharing

Keep this conversation going. Comment on this post. Share on social networks with #ForMeDepressionIs. Answer the question: “What is depression like for you?”. Tag me. I want to hear from you.

Connect with me on social networks to join future discussions. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can also subscribe to my blog.

Sincerely, Elizabeth Banks
The Uncustomary Housewife

Disclaimer: The quotes in this blog post were sent to me on social networks as replies to the question “What is depression like for you?”. I do not know many of these individuals personally, and did not conduct background research on them. Sharing their quote on my blog is not an endorsement for their social network activity or otherwise in the past, present, or future. Be kind to one another.

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5 comments on “What is Depression Like?

  1. katycowans

    Found this really interesting. I’ve been treated for PTSD and post natal depression. Both very different experiences, but both very lonely. My partner recently took his own life and now I’m battling anxiety, potentially PTSD again, as well as the grief, both mine and my childrens’. I started writing about it as tweets didn’t feel enough.

  2. Good post. I think your blog is helpful to a lot of people. It makes me feel less alone, and strengthens connections between me and other people, and people in general. We need to know that other people share our experiences. My experience is different in some ways but similar enough to feel something in common.

  3. Pingback: #ForMeDepressionIs

  4. Great post, Elizabeth! It’s incredibly helpful and encouraging to know that there are others out there who share in the same experience. The more people share their stories, the more I’m filled with hope; as it seems that we are finding a healthy path to connect with each other through vulnerability. I recently read a book called The Upward Spiral by Dr. Alex Korb which really helped me understand what is happening in a depressed mind. I found it extremely helpful and a comfort to understand more about my own circumstances.

    Thank you for sharing!


  5. Really insightful post

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