Excerpt #2 of Lynn Crilly's 'Hope with Depression' - How does it feel?
Posted by SANE
21st Jan 2020

How does it feel?

A pervasive feeling of unhappiness coupled with a loss of interest in the things they used to love doing is fairly common to many sufferers. They may feel anxious or tearful, hopeless or wracked with guilt. Things they used to love doing may no longer bring them pleasure, and they may feel removed from other people, isolated and trapped within their own thoughts. For me, I constantly felt sad, drained and distant. Everything was all too much effort – all of which was very out of character for me. There are also likely to be some physical symptoms. Those with depression may struggle to sleep or sleep too much. They may feel constantly lethargic, suffer with aches and pains, lose their sex drive and/or have issues with food. They may find it hard to concentrate, battle with making decisions and/or be weighed down by poor self-esteem and self-worth. Pete, who is in recovery from major depressive disorder, shares how he felt:

“The guilt and shame can be unbearable – partly because of the stigma that we associate with mental health problems. I lose all energy and can struggle to get up and do even the most basic day-to-day tasks. I struggle to concentrate and can become forgetful and unreliable, causing myself more guilt. I’ve had periods when I’ve felt so ashamed of myself and how I have looked that I’ve been unable to look at myself in a mirror for even a fraction of a second. I’ve also had physical symptoms, such as mystery aches and pains, tingling in my arms and hands, and headaches. All of these feelings have led to me having significant periods where I’ve had consistent suicidal thoughts.”

In severe cases, these feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness may be so acute that sufferers may struggle to see the meaning of their existence, to the point where they may consider taking their own life. I have briefly mentioned the black cloud that constantly followed me around, as that is how my depression felt to me, but it will vary from person to person. Many are familiar with the phrase ‘The Black Dog’, which, it is said, is how Winston Churchill described his own depressive spells. The idea of a dark companion who stays bleakly by your side, snarling and growling, will be familiar to many people with depression. To others it can feel different, perhaps causing a feeling of numbness or detachment from everyday life. Some will say they feel like they are suffocating and struggling for breath; others, that they have a heavy weight pressing down on them. They may even say it as if life is a rollercoaster with the fall approaching but the sufferer powerless to stop it. Each individual with depression will have their own interpretation.

Jamie Day, who is in recovery from severe depression, says:

“At its worst, it was like wearing blinkers. All I could see was a dark tunnel with immense, frenzied noise attacking me as I tried to make my way through. There was no clarity to my thinking, just sadness, panic and loss of hope, which always resulted in suicidal thoughts. Dark thoughts became my norm and were like a (very dangerous) coping strategy, knowing I’d be ending it soon. Thankfully, I didn’t.”

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