October 22, 2013

What I talk about when I talk about "depression."

"Depressed." That just means "sad," or "down," or "feeling low," maybe "moody," or "unhappy."  Right?


In my book, "depressed" means "self-loathing," "paralyzed," "angry," "crying for no reason," "not interested in anything," "unable to function."  Oh, and "suicidal."  Which goes along with "in the hospital." 

I also call depression "the black pit."

When I'm just starting down the slippery slope into that black pit, I can act for a while.  Before I go someplace I tell myself, "Okay, time to put on the happy face."  And I smile and act like everything is okay.  But as soon as I leave, my face drops and I'm right back the way I was.  Or maybe worse, because playing the "happy" role is exhausting.  So I start limiting my interaction with other people.

After a while, the happy face cracks.   I can no longer put it on at all.  Then I just stay home.  It's a huge effort just to get to a doctor appointment.  If I have to go out, I just look down at the ground, pretending to be invisible.

The people I love -- my husband, my daughter, my friends, my co-workers, my family -- I feel . . . I know . . . that I'm a burden to them.  They would be better off without me.  They just won't admit it.

And I am such a disappointment to myself.  I was so smart.  I could have done so much more.  I should still do so much more.  But I can't.  I can barely take care of myself.

I get paralyzed.  I will sit or stand in one spot for half an hour.  Or more.  Like a statue.  With no thought process going on.  Sometimes I try to do something.  I want to take a shower, but I can't do it.  I want to go to work, but I can't do it.  I want to exercise, but I can't do it.  I mean PHYSICALLY I cannot do it.  Really.  Wish I could explain it.

I am angry.  At any big or little thing.  I get ferocious:  so angry that I cry and shake.  It is free-floating anger, ready to erupt at any time.  I feel sorry for the people who have to live or work with me.

I am not interested in eating.  Not even chocolate.  I'm not interested in word puzzles.  I have a stack of terrific books to read, but nothing appeals to me.  There's nothing on TV that I want to watch.  Not even politics.  Dear God, you know I'm sick when I'm not interested in chocolate or politics. 

I cry.  I sob.  For long periods of time.  I am distraught.  And the worst part is that I don't know why.  Even the beautiful things that I normally find joy in -- a blue sky, an adorable dog, a fuzzy caterpillar, God's amazing creation, sunshine (especially sunshine) -- just make me cry.  Why?  Something is screwed up inside my brain, I guess. 

I am in so much emotional pain that I cannot stand it.  So I scream when nobody is around.  No words, just screams.  Somehow it feels like if I scream loud and long enough, the emotional pain will go away.  But it doesn't work. 

Once, when I was in the hospital, I screamed while I was in the shower, thinking the running water would drown out my screams.  But everybody heard me.  After that, I was just the crazy screaming lady.  It's sad when your fellow mental patients look at you like you're the crazy one.

I am in so much pain that I want to die.  I think it's my only way out of the pain.  But it's not a passing thought, like, "I might as well kill myself."

Suicide is my old friend.  It comforts me.  I have been thinking seriously about it for a very long time.  I have read countless books about it.  It is my daily companion, even when I'm well.  I have several well-thought-out plans of how I can kill myself.  I know how to get past the fear of the pain of death itself.  Suicide is my plan B.

I often think that I'm going to die by suicide eventually anyway so I might as well just get it over with. 

But I have promised someone that I won't kill myself.  And I don't break my promises, especially to this person.  So now I am trapped.  There is no way out.  I am down in the black pit, death and pain are churning all around me, dragging me down and down, and there is  No. Way. Out.

Sometimes I have to go to the hospital to keep from killing myself.  And then my insurance company gets to decide if I am sick enough to be admitted to the hospital.  Not my doctor, not my family, not the professional evaluator at the hospital, MY F*CKING INSURANCE COMPANY.  Talk about a death panel.

Now I've been through this drill many times before.  And I have finally learned that I can get better.  I desperately try to hang on to that thought, to keep from being swept further down into the churning black pit.

My doctor will add in a new medicine (already has, actually), and after a few weeks it may help (already hasn't, actually).  So now we'll try a different combination of medicine and give that a few weeks to work.  Patience is one of the unwanted lessons of depression.  But eventually, agonizingly slowly, I will start to feel better.  At least I hope so.

Do you think I'm crazy for writing this, insane for feeling this way?  Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.  I only write for those whose minds are open enough to learn.  If you're not one of those people, then you can go straight to hell.  I'll be waiting for you here, because depression truly is hell.

Thanks for reading. 

P.S.  Please . . . 
  • Do not give me advice.
  • Do not tell me you know how I feel.
  • Do not tell me why I'm depressed.
  • Do not ask me why I'm depressed.  If I knew that, I could work on fixing the problem.
  • And do not worry about me. For God's sake, don't worry about me. The last thing I need is people thinking worst-case scenarios about me and flinging those kind of bad vibes about me into the universe.


  1. Thank you for posting this Pam,it lets me know that I am not alone in these thoughts,it will help others know they are not alone in these thoughts. While I am in a fairly good spot in my life right now, I know I could fairly easily slide down that slope in an instant. I know there is nothing I can say to make you feel better right now-all I can do is let you know I am thinking of you and hoping the best for you. ((hugs))

    1. Thank you for letting me know this post wasn't a big ole mistake. Hugs back atcha.

  2. Thanks for sharing Pam. I suffer from depression and anxiety. Hope you feel better soon. Hugs to you :)

    1. It's good to know one is not alone, eh? Thank you hugs to you, too.

  3. I admire your deep honesty, Pam! ~ Patti

    1. Thanks, Patti. Somehow I am compelled to talk about this. If nobody talks, nobody knows what it's like and/or that they're not the only one feeling this way. It helps just knowing that one more person has read it.

  4. Pam, it took me 4 times to get through to the end because I kept crying. Weird, Strange, maybe, but that is how it affected me. You are one of the bravest people I know for putting this out there in words that speak truth. AS I stated before in a post to you, having mental illness absolutely SUCKS! But having people like you who are not afraid to be out there and speak truth sure does help. {{{{hugs}}} to you for being you and for helping me see things in a different light even though I suffer thru this maze too! <3

    1. Thanks, Beth. It's good to know this can be helpful. Maybe you cried because you've been there. It was a bit scary to send this into the world, but I've always been honest about my depression. And I've always thought that by sharing, maybe one more person will understand and it will chip away at the stigma just a little bit more. Hugs back, Beth.

  5. Pam, thank you for sharing this. I'm a nursing student and this will help me to know what to do for my patients when I'm just starting out. I will never know what this feels like or how to fix it, but no matter what feelings are always justifiable. Humans have emotions and sometimes they don't have a rhyme or reason. I hope that it will be enough to just be there for my patients. Thanks for giving me a different perspective on depression by looking at how it feels exactly. - Ashley

    1. Oh, Ashley, thanks for commenting. You are just the type of person I wanted to reach with this. I love that you understand that emotions don't always have an apparent "rhyme or reason."

      I think the very best thing you can do for a depressed person is "to just be there." I also think you are going to be a very good and compassionate nurse!

      And I would be honored if you shared this with any others you think could benefit by reading it.


  6. Pam, your honesty is beautiful! I am moved and sad and happy for you at the same time. May you find your peace, my friend. And continue to share. P

    1. Thank you for the kind words.

      My goal is to help people understand that even though a depressed person may look fine on the outside, the things that are happening on the inside are the things that are disabling. Those are the things we need to overcome in order to recover.

      Thanks for checking it out.