What a severe depression episode feels like

Terminology is so tricky. I go back and forth on how to describe the period between January 2017 and September 2017. Was it a nervous breakdown? It fit the hallmarks certainly. But that term is outdated and useless. It’s like hysteria. No longer valid. I don’t feel comfortable using it.

What I can use is depression. I am diagnosed with it. I have extensive experience. I know that period resembles the period of chronic grief I felt after my dear friend Lauren passed. So that’s what I’ll call it. I survived a severe depression episode.

I’m not going to go into the details of this episode. It happened. A combination of things brought it on from the election and the anxiety it caused to dealing with the changes brought on by adding Lola to my life. It’s over now and I’m better. I could easily not write about it. But this site exists to help people so I must tell this story. I hope by sharing what I feel I went through, maybe someone else can heal.

The first thing you must understand is that depression is individual. This is how it felt to me. It will manifest differently for you. Insomnia and chronic sleep are equally likely. Don’t consider this a checklist. Just personal experience.

Depression is a giant fog of gray. The best depictions of it show people desperate to feel ANYTHING. The Haunting of Hill House and Inside Out in particular nail it. That’s how I remember this period. Everything was permanently hazy. Never nice. Never any color. A slate yellow gray without rain.

It’s reinforced by lack of appetite. I’m a big eater but during the worst of the episode I couldn’t eat. Forcing even delicious food into my mouth was hard. Nothing tasted good even when I knew it did. How surreal that is. Yet I was nauseated all the time.

There’s a cliche that you drink alcohol constantly during these periods. I found that shockingly less than true. Drinking gave me no pleasure, even when it was an ice cold Zima on a June day. I mean that’s heaven. But it wasn’t. You don’t even really get that drunk. Probably because you’re not drinking fast enough in enough quantities to.

You do feel worse during this period. I was physically ill for a lot of it. When you’re severely depressed you’re absolutely more infection prone. I can’t explain it but it’s true. I was sick while watching Batman and Harley Quinn. And that was before the film started.

I did several rash things. I wouldn’t have shaved in a sane state of mind. But I did. I looked awful too. I spent my money a bit freely. Shouldn’t have. Did. I sold a bunch of books for pennies of what they were worth. Bad move.

One thing I really regret is how I wreaked havoc with my friends and family. I’m not going into detail but it has to be admitted I made mistakes. I was hard to be around. Realizing that helped me get better. I still feel guilt. I always will.

But that’s how it works. You aren’t thinking clearly. You’re flailing mentally trying to do any damned thing to make you feel again.

And yes, you cry. You cry at times when you didn’t realize you were crying. You cry in public. You cry in the car. You cry and cry and cry and it drains you.

Do you still love the things that you love? I did. In fact I would’ve been lost without my comics and the movies. I’m glad I had them to get me through. I’ve thanked several creators for what they did for me.

But mostly you just exist. You crawl through the day. You are just trying.

And then it gets better. There’s no demarcation line in reality. Just one day it isn’t there. And you notice it. And you keep going on. I hit that point in the fall. No idea why. But I did.

But it didn’t happen by accident. I was in therapy. I was on meds. I still am. I’m constantly working. I’m prepared too. There will be more of these incidents too. I know that’s coming. I’m going to fight again when they do.

Depression is fundamentally a lie. You’re told it won’t get better. Never forget this. It does.

Thanks to Chris Janisko for his support. If you want to support the site, click here.

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