What It Feels Like: Depression

October 4, 2017

As many of you will be aware, the 10th October is World Mental Health Day. In order to mark it I have decided to create a blog series to publish in the run up to World Mental Health Day with the help of contributors with lived experience. The series will run over 6 days, covering a variety of mental health problems. The aim of the series is to remove some of the 'clinical' feel behind the descriptions of mental health problems and humanise it by describing how it feels to those experiencing a mental health problem. Check here to see next part of the series; anxiety. 



Depression is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working (NIMH). 


"Having depression is exhausting, fighting a constant battle with yourself, seemingly without a win in sight. It’s a tug of war with yourself. Whilst at times I am able to notice the irrational thoughts, when your mind lies to you every single day, you eventually believe it. It feels as though you're being trapped in a constant cycle of is this me, is this my illness – constantly doubting yourself. It feels as though you are drowning in a river, constantly trying to gasp for air, you try to build a dam to hold back the water but this causes pressure, pushing down on your chest and keeping you under water. You become tired, you can’t keep swimming, and you begin to think it would be better if you just stopped treading the water, if you just let go. You’re in a glass box, except the glass is a two-way mirror, people can see you, they can see into your box, but when you look out it is black, dark, silent. You are yelling for help, yet no noise is coming out. You try to get out but the four walls keep you in, after a while the four walls become comforting. Cracks begin to show in the glass, a little bit of light comes in, happiness is what we all strive for, but it’s new, you’ve not felt it in a while, you’re sceptical. You feel as though you have become your illness, what would I be without it, it has become a friend, but it isn’t really a friend, it’s a toxic relationship. The truth with depression is that sometimes you feel everything, all at once. Sometimes you feel nothing at all." - Jodie Goodacre







"It feels like when you suddenly get that ‘falling feeling’ in a dream but you don’t wake up. You have no safety net. It feels like you’re stuck in a deep dark hole, screaming for help, waiting for someone to lower down a ladder to help you out, but all you’re left with is people looking down on you and laughing. You’re all lost, on your own, slowly getting deeper and deeper in this hole until it comes to a point where you just simply disappear into darkness." - Sophie Edwards













"Depression feels like you are in a deep, dark pit with no light and no escape. You can’t see a way out and you feel like you will be stuck, unhappy forever. You can’t reach out for anyone and you can’t really explain why you feel like you do, you just feel like nothing will ever be good. You go over all your failings and can’t stop ruminating over how you should have done things differently. The voice in your head is taunting you and telling you that you will never be happy again and that no-one loves you." - Peter Shaw 











"My depression can leave me so low I can't stop crying or numb that I feel nothing. However after all these years it can be oddly comforting especially when fighting through it is like trying to move through heavy, energy sucking, treacle." - Hannah BM 













"‘The black dog’ is the perfect analogy to describe depression. For me, I think of it as a big black hole in which I have plunged into. The things you once enjoyed, no longer become enjoyable. You don’t want to do anything. You don’t feel capable of doing anything. Often sleeping is the only thing you want to do, safe in the knowledge that you can block out those awful feelings, if only for a few hours. Sleep doesn’t always work, particularly if the unwelcome pair of depression and anxiety hit you simultaneously. I remember during one of my worst depressive episodes, I’d struggle to sleep at night but would often find it easier to do so during the day. There was something about the night, the feeling of loneliness and isolation hitting me even harder. With depression, you constantly feel exhausted because of the battle you are facing with yourself on a daily basis. The internal conversations you have with yourself are ones of self-loathing and self-doubt. I cannot underestimate the power of constant negative thoughts buzzing around in your head. They become utterly crippling. You beat yourself up, over and over, frustrated that the things you used to do so easily, now feel like an incredibly arduous task. I wouldn’t have the energy to make it out of bed, never mind make myself some food or go to a uni lecture. Some days you would feel incredible pain, others absolutely nothing at all. Just a feeling of complete numbness." - Lauren Quigley




"You're in a pool. The sun is shining. People are laughing. You're happy. The sky becomes overcast turning ever darker. The water in the pool feels thicker, heavier. Your limbs are tiring and feel leaden. The laughter gets muted. Your happiness is slowly turning to anguish to despair. A weight is added to your legs, pulling you under and you fight more and more desperately to tread water. The water in the pool is heavier still, and choppy, working in concert with the weight around your legs. A voice starts to whisper into your ear. It tells you that you're useless, better off dead. Despair becomes melancholia. Still you struggle and fight to tread water, exhausted. No-one notices your distress. No-one but you hears the voice. Do this for 4,368 consecutive hours. This is depression." - John D





"Depression feels like a weight on top of me. It drains me of all motivation and energy so I can’t be bothered to move, or even actually move. I feel heavy walking around, and I don’t care about anything at all – I just feel numb. It can be days or even weeks before that heavy feeling lifts, and sometimes, when I must force myself through it, it can be almost painful because I’m not letting it lift naturally. It tells me I’m awful and horrible, and when I’m trying to be positive, it convinces me I’m lying." - Maeve 







"The walls closed in, the darkness swallowed me up, I no longer wanted to be here. I didn't want to talk to anyone. I didn't want to seem weak. I lost all control. Every moment I was alone, was that it?" - John Sennett 











"Having depression disorder is knowing you are going to fall off the bike and wanting to use your hands and legs to hold yourself up but you are numbed by it all. The chest feels heavy, ladened by what can be described as grief but without the actual loss. You feel exhausted , wishing to just let go." - Robert Ngunu 







"Depression feels like I’m wearing a weighted vest, all the damn time. It’s so heavy and makes it really difficult to get out of bed, it’s so hard to stay stood up in the shower, so hard to go outside. I can’t take the vest off and it makes my day to day life so difficult - I’m hungry, still wearing yesterday’s clothes, I need to sort myself out.. but it’s much easier to stay in bed." - Gemma Callaway 







"My depression makes me feel so alone. When I had low days or weeks, I felt as though I had no one to talk to about it, no one who could understand what it felt like. When people say to me "what's wrong?" That's the hardest question of them all. It's near impossible to explain the thoughts and feelings so the other person can understand. And going through family problems, stress, a breakup and family illness, it made things 10 times worse. I needed to release my sadness and thoughts somehow, as I felt like I couldn't speak to anyone about it because no one understood what I was feeling. However that was my rock bottom. Things can only get better from here. I have my one and only friend I'm able to speak to about anything and I do not have as many negative moods as often now. My family have supported me through this hard time of my life and still are supporting me while I battle through it. I want to thank everyone because without them I don't know how I would have gotten to where I am today." - Chloe Richards 




"Depression feels like a game of ‘The Sims’, and the person controlling you has taken away your free will. It feels like there is a dark cloud that’ll wash away anything within a few seconds, not knowing when it’s going to strike. Every ‘easy’ day-to-day task feels like the hardest thing in the world, and the only protection you feel like you have is your blanket and bed. Depression feels like having to paint on a fake smile to hide how awful you feel. It makes you feel like an awful person for saying ‘I’m fine’, when you’re not." - Chloe Thomas 








"Having depression feels like you have lost all sense of hope, that you don't care about anything. You wake up like your tied to your bed, unable to get up and face the real world. The darkness under the duvet reflects the darkness in your mind, just devoid of happiness and hope. What once would have filled you with joy, excitement, adrenaline, now seems pointless, scary, tearful. That's not living, it's a life sentence. Who would choose that?" - Rhys Loxton












"You can feel yourself going under but you’re not sure how to stop it, the feeling of darkness has returned, you put on a brave face, smile and laugh with your friends, making as many plans as possible, holding on trying to keep yourself away from the thoughts, but inside your crying out for help, you feel so worthless, alone, there seems to be no future, life feels grey." Grace










"Depression feels like you have fallen down a huge, dark hole. The hole is so deep that a lot of the time you cannot even see the light from up above. Some days, when the day is particularly sunny, you may get a glimmer of light. On these days, you may try and begin the task of climbing out. But the banks of the hole are made of dry sand and are very steep. Every step you take up the bank takes a colossal amount of energy. You slip. A lot. Sometimes you might even end up right at the bottom of the hole. When that happens, the thought of giving up all together is so tempting. But then, another glimpse of the light comes. And you start the process all over again. Each time you get further and further up. And whilst you still slip, you have learnt more about how to manage how far you slip. So whilst it is still hard, it gets ever so slightly easier each time you try and climb out of the hole. Once out of the dark hole, Depression is still there. It may allow you to feel slightly more human, but it lingers. It feels like walking on a tightrope. It takes a lot of time, effort and concentration to not fall off the rope and back into the hole. It can be exhausting, to the extent that the motivation to do anything can completely disappear." Becky Reed 





"You’d think that somebody who works with words would be best-placed to describe what it’s like to live with depression. However I’m unsure that’s true. After all, it’s defining something that others can’t see. When you tell them, they look for clues even though I’ve previously made sure none are visible. How do you relay to others feel nothing? Depression for me is often a complete absence of will that tethers me to my bed. It always passes, and I’m released again later. But every time it still seems interminable. A common mistake is to confuse depression with sadness but that’s an emotion – a feeling – and not the numbness I sometimes know. It does make you more mindful though, because when the metaphorical cloud lifts there is a pure and sincere joy at feeling the sun on your face again. I cherish those moments so much; the body becomes a glass being filled with liquid warmth, and you want to screw the lid tight to keep it that way even if just for a while.” – Andrew Simpson




"Living with depression is like trying to claw your way out of quicksand. No matter how hard you try, you keep getting sucked back in. You fight your hardest, and sometimes you make progress, but that progress can disappear within seconds. It’s waking up in the morning not really seeing the point of getting up. Not seeing the point of eating, of showering, of leaving the house. It’s being continually exhausted but not actually being able to sleep. It’s knowing you need to eat but being nauseated by the thought of food. It’s realising you need to socialise but staying in your ‘I’ve worn these way too long’ pyjamas for a little bit longer. It’s not seeing the point in life. It’s feeling worthless no matter how many people try to build you up. It’s playing the roles of two people, only nobody gets to see the real you. You perfect the outside version of you, nobody has any idea that they’re seeing a filtered variant. You may begin to fill your days with activities; work, exercise, socialising, in an attempt to be so busy you forget it all. But you don’t. You still go home at the end of the day to a myriad of thoughts and feelings. Sometimes it’s feeling numb. I always struggled to figure out what that meant until I experienced it myself. It is literally feeling nothing at all. No sadness, no anger, no apathy. It’s just feeing nothing. That’s the scary part, sometimes. That your brain has the ability to just stop feeling emotion. That’s the hardest part to live with."– Laura Cloughley




"Depression felt like I was trapped in a void, held in nothingness, like nothing was worth doing - despite encouragements from friends to cheer up, pull myself together, snap out of it. Depression felt like the ultimate diminished state as I sat for days in my own urine and faeces unable to move, only feet away from the remote control, wishing the TV was on. Depression felt like all the life had been scraped out of me and left me incapable of joy or sadness, unable to keep track of time, answer the phone or sleep - lifeless, hopeless, desperate." - David Woodhead 








"We all have those days where we can’t be bothered and have a duvet day. That’s normal, that’s life.... that’s not depression. What it feels like for me is gradually losing yourself over time. The things that once made you laugh now just make you feel awkward and uneasy. I call it a depression Hoover as it feels like my ability to feel has been sucked out of me. I don’t feel joy or happiness, love or warmth. I feel disconnected and void. It creeps up on you slowly so you don’t notice at first. It sucks away self belief and confidence making you feel worthless. Everything that made you, you, is sucked up by the depression Hoover. It’s sheer exhaustion from being trapped in your own thoughts like a prisoner just wishing the sentence was over." - Natalie Hall 





"I once heard a rumour that J.K. Rowling based the dementors in Harry Potter on her experience of depression. They are dark, scary, soul-sucking beings that inhabit the wizard prison of Azkaban. For me it’s a pretty accurate description of how depression feels. It feels like my soul is being sucked out of me. During particularly dark times it’s like I have no ‘get up and go’ it simply got up and went. There are times when I’m unable to connect with things that I should enjoy, the things that will help me get better. Nothing seems like it is worth doing, except maybe staying in my comfy bed sleeping. Depression feels like being wrapped in an uncomfortable, heavy, dark blanket. While wearing sunglasses that make it nearly impossible to see the light." - Victoria May 










"The empty feeling, which always reminds me of how much I take for granted to feel a lot. The numbness 'feels' worse than feeling a lot." - Kay Ska 








"Depression is sitting on the bathroom floor for hours while summoning the energy to haul myself in to the shower. It is a crushing silence that lingers in the back of my mind. It’s a deafening internal scream, desperate to be heard by someone other than its occupier. It’s a parasite. It feeds off every bad thought I’ve ever had and it grows and grows. It is feeling hungry but not being able to eat. It’s numbing the pain by binging on junk food. It is finding dreads in my hair and realising I haven’t brushed it in weeks. It is a persistent brain fog. It incapacitates me. It is ever present; a constant unwelcome companion. I feel like I am totally at the mercy of my brain, and that I have no control over its sudden seismic shifts. It’s exhausting." - Cara Gordon 








"A cocktail of emotions where most of the time, you aren’t sure whether you’re coming or going. You become anxious about your depression and depressed about your anxiety. It feels like every thought that enters your mind is there to pull you down, to destroy any positivity that you manage to muster. Depression leaves you feeling crushed, weighed down by anything and everything. When you add anxiety, every negative thought is amplified. You’re often left wondering how it got to this, wondering what you did to deserve this life and genuinely asking yourself “Is it really worth it?”" - Chloe Gordon 




"Depression is a complex one for myself, there are days when getting out of bed or leaving my room cannot be an option. I have no option but to lie there and hope that this dead weight pulling my body down lifts. Or I can carry that weight around me all day as I try to get on with everything to incessantly cry over the next few days for no reason. I am left to feel worthless and I cry to someone out there to heal me, if it were ever to be possible. But the intensity at which I feel this, I sometime feel is linked to my personality disorder, I wonder whether it will allow it to be a dull ache or so painful I feel as though I cannot move." - Leanne Smith



"It’s like living in a shell of yourself. All of the energy and soul has been removed and buried and what’s left is the husk. And a lot of the time it’s not even feeling sad. It’s feeling nothing. You feel numb yet overwhelmed. And when people ask you what’s wrong, you can’t explain it because you don’t understand it yourself. Any shred of what is left of you withdraws away from people because you feel so undeserving of any help or empathy. Everyday is a struggle to get out of bed. Sometimes even breathing is tiring." - What Is Normal 




"Being diagnosed with mental health is a feeling of relief. Relief that there is something different about you. It's nothing to feel ashamed about as there are many people in the world experiencing the same feelings and emotions as you. This is a reassuring feeling. Knowing that there are many people with this condition and that more people are aware of this encourages positive changes ." - Anon 





Hopefully reading the personal experiences from these wonderful people has helped to provide a more human understanding of what depression is, what it means to those who experience it and how it feels to them.


Sending positive vibes, 

Jodie x












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