Mental Health

Depression Feels Like This

May 10, 2013

Depression Feels Like This - Sweet and Savoring

BAM! The D-word right off the bat.


Let’s sit back and marinate in it for a while , shall we? Go on, get comfortable.

(I know it’s not easy)

You’ve seen me talk a little about my depression (here, to bring new readers up to speed)(oh, also here and here), but I always find it hard to convey what living with depression really feels like. On top of that, it’s icky and uncomfortable and unpleasant to write about this stuff. I’ve actually been in the middle of this post since January, but the links I talk about below convinced me to finish. Still, I wring my hands and stare out the window and do things like scrubbing the bathroom floor instead.

You:  So why bother writing this post, Christy?

Because by its very nature, depressions is unpleasant, both to experience and to talk about, and it’s because of that unpleasantness that it’s not talked about enough (hey, awkward sentence!). And nothing is ever made better by not talking about it, least of all depression.

Depression Feels Like This - Sweet and Savoring

Oddly, what propelled me to write this “Yes! A sense of identification!” depression post was a heartbreaking novel about a woman with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease: Still Alice, by Lisa Genova. The book’s third-person narration is told from Alice’s perspective as she loses her memory and personality. I think I’ve read the whole thing at least four times at this point; it just gets to me. Alice is educated and knowledgeable about the brain, and she tries every trick in the book to stave off her worsening symptoms. In a way, it parallels my struggle with seasonal affective disorder: going into the fall and winter with determination, loading up on Vitamin D and getting up early to soak up the most daylight, making PLANS!, only to find myself defeated and miserable by December (cycle, rinse, repeat).

A section toward the end of “Still Alice”, when Alice has a lucid moment and remembers her life before the Alzheimer’s symptoms began,  particularly strikes a chord with me:

I used to be curious and independent and confident. I miss being sure of things. There’s no peace in being unsure of everything all the time. I miss doing things easily. I miss being a part of what’s happening.

What Alice misses encapsulate a lot of how I feel when I’m depressed: like an uncertain, fragile, half person with no conviction or sense of self.  There’s the depressed part of me, and then everything else– the meat, the essence, whatever you want to call it– is behind this shroud that I just can’t reach. Of course, someone with Alzheimer’s Disease truly can’t reach it; the glaring difference is that I do come back to myself eventually (yay!).

Depression Feels Like This - Sweet and Savoring

This week, as I wondered how to finish the two-paragraph draft post that I’d let languish for 4+ months, Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half came back to the Internet. Specifically, she published “Depression Part Two” just yesterday, and in less than a day she received 5,000 comments (which, incidentally, is Blogger’s comment limit). 5,000! On a post about depression! This is marvelous and amazing.

But I get ahead of myself. If you’re not familiar with Hyperbole and a Half, it’s sort of a web comic, a sort of collection of illustrated essays, and definitely all genius. She makes drawings with MS Paint about her life, or her dog, and writes in such a way that fans relate to her as if she’s their best friend. What makes the 5,000 comments (and overall Internet reaction to her return) so remarkable is that until this week, there was nothing new on her site since October 2011. Periodically, I’d check for updates, hoping she was okay, always appreciating how she made me laugh about my own sorrow in the post before her long absence, Adventures in Depression.

Depression Feels Like This - Sweet and Savoring

I know, I know- I’m writing a blog post about a blog post. But read Allie’s latest update, and you’ll get the best, most accessible depiction of debilitating depression that I’ve ever seen. An excerpt:

 I’d try to explain that it’s not really negativity or sadness anymore, it’s more just this detached, meaningless fog where you can’t feel anything about anything — even the things you love, even fun things — and you’re horribly bored and lonely, but since you’ve lost your ability to connect with any of the things that would normally make you feel less bored and lonely, you’re stuck in the boring, lonely, meaningless void without anything to distract you from how boring, lonely, and meaningless it is. 

[Yup. All of it.]

That’s enough; go check out Hyperbole and a Half yourself! I’m glad Allie’s okay (or at least, on the road to getting better), and I’m grateful to her for talking so openly about her depression. Did I mention how I started sobbing in the middle of reading her post this afternoon? I cried because it seemed like she was writing about me (though not the suicidal part), and I felt sad and pathetic and silly, but comforted and not so alone, and like my weird out-there feelings were validated. 

I’m also grateful to a blogger named Heather Armstrong, the woman behind Dooce. On Monday, she wrote this post about putting a face to depression and mental illness, and invited her readers to share their stories, as she has. People with depression opened up about their battle, and so did friends and loved ones, thanking her for raising awareness and facilitating understanding.

Depression Feels Like This - Sweet and Savoring

Yes, depression sucks. But it’s pretty damn sweet that there are people like Allie and Heather putting themselves out there so the rest of us don’t feel so alone.

Have you been especially inspired by someone or something lately? What are you grateful for? Would you like to share what gets you out of a funk or low mood?

I must say, three posts into my own return, it’s nice to be back. Thanks for sticking with me.


If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather. Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.  –-Stephen Fry

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  • Susie May 10, 2013 at 7:21 am

    Well done, dear Christy. It is wonderful to “hear” you so clearly moving into the sunshine and to be writing again.
    Love you, Girl……..have a memorable day!

    • Christy May 10, 2013 at 7:34 am

      Thanks, Aunt Susie! This post was definitely a long time coming. Hope you had a nice birthday!

  • Shelby May 10, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Wow. Great quote by Stephen Fry. It’s funny how you sometimes forget that people DO talk about these things and that it doesn’t have to be this secret, dark world we often fall into. And how you remember how much it helps to hear about it from others. Thank you 🙂

    • Christy May 10, 2013 at 6:27 pm

      Shelby! Thanks for stopping by, and I appreciate the feedback. As soon as I saw that quote, I knew it was the one to put in this post.

  • AndreaM May 11, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Christy…I knew we were connected within this world somehow. And not just through ‘omegs! Unfortunately, my case is a bit more severe — like the part where you were crying during her post this afternoon kind of severe. Not many people know about my illness, and not many people would be able to guess, either. I suffered childhood trauma, and now, every day, I do my very best – and then some. Thank you for sharing your stories here…I’ve just started reading them, and also can’t wait to read the sites you suggested, as well. It’s nice to not feel so alone. {even if, in your heart, you know you’re not} xo

    • Christy May 13, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      Thank you for writing this, Andrea. It’s funny how even when we share these commonalities, it can still feel so intensely personal and *singular*. Isn’t it so hard to keep trying to do our ‘best’? (Even as I read back through this very serious post, I realize I’m trying to sound more chipper than necessary).

      Hugs to you, too!

  • Olivia @ Liv Lives Life May 13, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    I just stumbled across your site, and I’m glad I did! This post is wonderfully written, and I think you make a good point about needing to talk about stuff that people normally don’t want to talk about. Depression is something that so many people face, and it’s a shame it’s not understood more. Thank you for sharing this with us all.

    • Christy May 13, 2013 at 1:30 pm

      Hi Olivia, thanks for stopping by and I appreciate your nice words. I’m only recently seeking out other people writing about depression online, and trying to stress to myself the importance of sharing and not keeping things hidden. It’s not easy, but comments like yours help to see that it’s worth it.

  • Kiersten @ OMV May 13, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    I have struggled with depression and anxiety for almost as long as I can remember (even as a child), so I appreciate this post. It’s hard for people to understand how you can feel so empty and hollow when so many positive things are happening in your life. And sometimes I feel like the better things get, the emptier I feel. I hope that you continue to feel better–the longer days and warmer weather definitely seems to help me too!

    • Christy May 19, 2013 at 9:47 pm

      Empty is a feeling I can identify with lately- I’m sorry you know what it feels like, too. Thanks for sharing your experience- I really appreciate how many people have come forth and said ‘me too!’ as a result of this post.

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  • Kristen July 13, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    I have struggled with depression for so long, I actually wonder if I will ever be without it. Even as I sit here and type this I’ve been wondering if it’s getting out of control again. The exhaustion, the aches and pains, the overwhelming sense that all I want to do is curl up in a ball and forget I exist. Yes. To all of it. I applaud your strength to write about it. I’ve never been able to fully express how I feel and I’ve never been so open about it.

    • Christy July 14, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      Hey Kristen, I appreciate your sharing- I know it’s not easy, nor does it feel ‘right’ to open up sometimes. In my dark periods, I wonder if I’ll ever be without the depression, too. It takes over all the good parts of me and what’s left just feels…useless, really. That you’re experiencing this currently makes me want to give you a hug- my thoughts are with you.
      I encourage you to write how you’re feeling- even if it’s just to yourself, it helps 🙂

  • Jenny Pine July 23, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    I like the quote about the “boring, lonely, meaningless void”. It helps tremendously to know other people get trapped or feel trapped the same way. I have the same thing every winter I try to avoid it but the SAD creeps in surely and steadily despite my efforts to control my mood and thoughts. This post makes me feel like maybe I’m not a total lunatic! Thank you!

    • Christy July 24, 2013 at 10:12 am

      Oh, I can’t tell you how often I’ve thought I was a lunatic, or “too far gone” or completely alone. We can be lunatics together this winter 🙂 I’m so glad this has helped you!

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  • misssrobin July 27, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Well said. I’m glad you’re sharing. And now I need to go read those other posts you referenced. After reading part two of your story, of course.

    Thanks for the beautiful quote.
    misssrobin recently posted…Turning to GodMy Profile

    • Christy July 27, 2013 at 11:58 am

      I really appreciate your comments, Robin! Thanks for stopping by and hopping around the site. And yes, isn’t that such a great quote?

  • Erika August 5, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Thanks for being so open about this topic. It’s usually one that people are ashamed of (and I feel that way sometimes myself). And I’ve also found that people without depression or who have never experienced it have a really hard time understanding it. I guess one way we can console ourselves is that maybe their ability to understand it is just as difficult as our ability to get out of it.

    And I love that you talked about Allie. Writing it out, I see how INSANE that is… I mean, her blog was probably the most popular blogs of all times. And I love that because she didn’t do any of the conventional blogging things. She just shared what she wanted to share. You’re right — she’s a genius. And it’s insane that the same day, she gets 5000 comments. People didn’t un-add her and people still kept checking back! (I was one of them.) Wow. It just goes to show that when you’re in your element, things work beyond understanding.
    Erika recently posted…The 90 Day Transformation ProjectMy Profile

    • Christy August 5, 2013 at 6:40 pm

      Hey Erika, I hear you on feeling ashamed- add embarrassed and awkward and anxious and you’ve got how I used to feel half the time. Okay, I might feel that way still in the winter :\ But sharing helps so much! It removes that awkwardness and facilitates conversations like this one, as well as with friends of mine in real life who didn’t know the full story of my depression.
      You made a good point about other people’s ability to understand how we feel- it probably is similar to how difficult it is for *us* to get above water, so to speak. Great way to put it!
      And yes! Haha, only a fellow blogger understands how amazing Allie’s story is with all the followers and comments after so long away. I hope she’s doing better, and I can’t wait for her book to come out!

  • Ian Knabel June 22, 2014 at 2:42 am

    This is one of the most open and honest explanations on what life with depression is like that I’ve had the pleasure to read.

    I’ve had issues in my life and had to deal with depression several times and I always struggled for words to explain how I was feeling and what I was going through.

    You have captured the essence so well and even helped me understand a little bit more of myself


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