Journey to Recovery

What it’s like living with depression

I think a lot about the fact that people who don’t live with mental health conditions really don’t have a clue about what the experience is like for those of us who do. I thought I would dedicate this to trying to help people to understand what it is like. I am going to try and write what a typical experience is like for someone living with depression, at least from my experience. It can vary from person to person, but in my sharing and listening to others, this is a very similar and shared experience for many of us.

You sit on the side of your bed and take the myriad of medication that have been prescribed for you, but aren’t sure even work. You go to bed exhausted but the thoughts in your head won’t stop, your thoughts are racing from one thing to the next. You think about everything going on in your life. How you can’t stand your job, how worthless you feel, how your relationships are fading into oblivion because of your situation. You worry about having to get up and go to work the next day because you can’t sleep. You keep looking at the clock every hour worrying because you know you have to get up soon to go to work.

By about 4 a.m. if you’re lucky you might drift off to sleep. The alarm goes off at 6 or 7 a.m., and you get up and take a shower if you can manage. You don’t bother putting on makeup because you don’t really care anymore how you look. You get in the car and on the way contemplate smashing into a tree or wall instead of going to work but don’t. When you get to work, you sit in the parking lot staring at the door and it seems 20 miles away and you drag your feet because they feel like cement blocks as you walk.

Once inside you go about your day, but you can’t focus on anything you do all day long anyway ,and you make a lot of mistakes. People ask you how you are, and you always say “fine” because you know they don’t really care. You finally go home and plop yourself on the couch and eat whatever is easiest or you don’t eat at all. Bedtime rolls around, and the routine starts over with the sleep problem and the racing thoughts. This time you call in sick because you just can’t stand the thought of working. You get up the next day and grab a bag of chips and a two liter of pop because you know it is the only thing you will be able to “fix” to eat because you’re not getting yourself off the couch or out of bed for anything but the toilet the rest of the day.

You call your friend and talk for a while, and when they ask you how you are you tell them the truth and they give you some great advice about how you should get some sunshine and go for a walk.

After the call, you go to bed, slam down the rest of the chips and sleep the rest of the day. Maybe tomorrow will be the day you will finally kill yourself after all, if you can find the energy to take a walk in the sunshine you can find the energy for that, right?

This sounds really morbid, but it was my mindset five months ago. It is where I lived, and no amount of sunshine, walking, meds or therapy was helping. I was hospitalized three times during this period of my life, the second was after a very serious suicide attempt that was nearly successful. It was the lowest point in my life. What I needed was people present 24/7 in my life to show me support along with the meds, therapy and hospitalization. I needed the group therapy and the people in my life to step up. It took more than I was getting. I have that support now and am in a much better place.

Please share this with the people in your life. Tell them they are needed. Don’t be afraid to speak up for the support you so desperately need. I am glad that I am still here to share my story. The people in your life need you here more than you know, but they just don’t understand the pain you are feeling. Help them to understand.