What Depression Actually Feels Like

It’s like when you lean a textbook on your stomach while you’re studying. Or when you’re wearing a headband that’s a little too tight, but you keep it on because you hair won’t look okay otherwise. That’s what it feels like. It’s not constant, debilitating sadness or thinking the world is against you. There’s also not a specific moment that I can pick out when it started. It’s not because I lost a loved one or something tragic happened, it just started.

First, it was quiet. I would just feel exhausted after a “long day.” Or I would cry over something seemingly small. I would brush it off and say, “oh, it must be just hormones” or “it’s just because I’m introverted.” But it started getting louder. It felt like a happy memory was down this inescapably long hallway and if I could just walk far enough, I could reach it. Someone would make a funny comment or say something nice to me and I would just feel hollow. I felt...off. I would cry more frequently, spend more time in bed on the weekends, not reach out to my friends as often, watch Netflix and neglect my responsibilities more because I knew that, however off I felt, I had multiple friends who had it unbelievably worse and I had the audacity to feel this way. I have a friend whose parent died and I had the nerve to cry over something like my boyfriend not answering the phone. And with that, I had a friend who was dealing with so many relationship issues and I felt like I was slapping her in the face by being unhappy when I had this perfect little relationship. I felt like an idiot when so many of my friends were struggling finding jobs, but I had found one, yet was still crying myself to sleep, having pity parties for myself over the weekends, and not answering their calls. I felt awful that I felt like this when they had it so much worse. I was conditioned to look at someone else and say, “be happy, some people have it worse than you.” Then I would cry and cry when people told me, “everything will get better” when it flared up and I felt like I had to put on this face to make people not look at me like I was a crazy person.

Because it’s not constant sadness. It’s feeling guilty about feeling how you do, because you have no explanation. It’s feeling like you’re letting your friends and family down and being a burden to them. It’s being hollow. A shell of your former, bright-eyed, optimistic self. And it’s all behind closed doors.

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