Depression is the image your six year old self came up with when you used to lay awake at night with your eyes squeezed shut and small, pale fists clenched as hard as possible around the frayed edges of your favorite blanket. It’s the flashes of horror you saw if you dared to open your eyes and try tomake sense of the dark shapes surrounding your bed.
Depression is this heavy, thick wool blanket wrapped around your heart and soul in the middle of the summer. It drags your feet and hunches your shoulders for you, somehow keeping every major muscle group in your body tense and tight but hard to move all at once.
It’s like walking through sand constantly. Swimming your way through this gelatinous blob of self-doubt and regret, never knowing if you’re going to be able to reach the surface and take a full, deep breath of fresh air.
Depression is that feeling in your throat when you know you’re about to cry but you tell yourself that the situation isn’t appropriate, so you swallow and swallow frantically, trying to calm down your bodily reflexes and battle the burning in your esophagus with something besides tears.
It is the exact feeling you become overwhelmed with after hearing horrible news. The instant tightening of the stomach combined with a heavy, pitted weight that seems to crash down on your knees and knock the wind out of your lungs. That heartwrenching moment where for just a few insane seconds you’re absolutely positive that if you were to rip open your chest and snap open your ribcage, you’d see a glowing mass made of glass start to crack in the very center and suddenly shatter.
Depression is starting a project and giving up. It’s writing ideas and dreams down in the hopes that one day you’ll feel good enough to pursue them, and then laying in bed in a haze instead.
Depression is hard, bloodied fists and rapidly swelling black eyes. It’s losing your keys, your wallet, your wife and your job in the same day. It’s the headline of any major news station, the starving artist giving up on their dreams, the feeling of shockingly cold tile floor pressed against your bare thigh in the moment where that’s the only feeling you’ve been aware of in weeks. It’s the end of the world.
And then it isn’t.
Light shines through your six-year-old self’s bedroom window and the monsters slither back into the dark, small crevices of your mind. A cool breeze lifts the blanket off and your muscles finally rest. The sand under your feet is replaced with soft green summer grass. You write that song, you finish that project. You do something that makes you feel proud. Just as your lungs are about to explode in protest, you break the surface and suck in the cleanest air you’ve ever tasted. Your body becomes warm. You close your eyes and can feel your heart beating.
Depression is, and then depression is not.
Some people find their keys and keep their jobs. Some people pick themselves up off of the cold tile floors. And some people die trying.