If you’re lucky enough to be unaffected by depression, you probably want to be as helpful and sympathetic to those who suffer as you can – and that means educating yourself on all of the ways they’re affected on a daily basis.
If you’re thinking it will be easy to spot just by looking for a lack of motivation, sadness, and maybe s**cidal thoughts, well, these people say differently – and they’re willing to share all of the ways depression intrudes on their lives.
Take a look.
1. Brain fog is the worst.
I had unbelievable brain fog and memory loss.
Brain fog should be talked about too, I felt like I lost about 20 IQ points.
You can’t fall if you never leave rock bottom.
3. The pendulum swing is the worst.
It’s similarly affected my work. When I’m on a manic upswing it’s like I don’t even have to try to think, I’m unbelievably efficient and flawless at work (and basically any other part of my life, everything is so easy to do).
Then depression hits and I can’t produce half as much, everything is riddled with errors. I try to adjust by double and triple checking everything and taking my time to avoid mistakes, but they miraculously appear everywhere anyways – and my boss wonders wtf happened and the overtones of “I really don’t want to have to fire you… But you can’t keep doing this.”
4. It’s hard to fathom.
Like the “why aren’t you trying to get better” because what does better feel like??it sounds scary and unknown. Depression is familiar, and numb. I can believe I don’t matter, never leave my bed, and I will never disappoint anyone because no one will expect anything of me.
Learning to be ok with being ok is f**king hard.
And then I get suspicious anytime things are good. Like. I’m going to mess it up. I know it. I might as well give up now.
Short term memory loss.
When I am in a major depression I must write everything down.
6. You can’t let go of the fear.
For me it’s not just the ‘fear’ of feeling better–it’s the fear of letting go the constant self-h**e and anxiety because my brain goes, “and what have I done to deserve this feeling of comfort and satisfaction?”
I was a ‘whoopsie’ kid. My parents messed up in birth control, and so I arrived and they were forced to be together (my mom never intended to stay with my dad, who she was using as a ‘rebound boyfriend’). I was also the dumbest kid in the family, so I’ve grown up being screamed at for a) being the reason why my parents had to get together, b) also for embarrassing my parents repeatedly with bad grades…up until I forced myself to do better at school but became an unsocialized and awkward teen who’d say/do the wrong thing and embarrass my parents further.
Literally from the ages 4-21 I never went through a single day without getting shouted at. If it wasn’t about my dismal report cards, it was about me forgetting to make my bed (or forgetting to wash the dishes, or for not doing enough to keep my younger siblings out of trouble. I used to even tense up whenever my parents fought–which was often–because afterwards my mother loved to come after me to scream that it was all my fault). So I literally lived my whole life (still do) completely convinced that if I don’t watch EVERYTHING I do and constantly check for things that haven’t been done/slipped out of my mind–then something bad’s gonna happen and it’d be my fault for letting it happen.
7. Dirty and messy.
A messy room/never doing chores.
Especially if you live on your own, not caring about cleanliness is a clear sign that you just don’t care how you even feel about things anymore.
8. So many reasons to lie awake.
Inability to make a simple decision.
Some nights I struggle for hours trying to figure out what to eat for dinner.
9. It’s never enough.
the 12-18 hours of sleep … and you still wake up feeling like c**p.
10. No more appetite.
Sometimes sleep is my meal.
I can get so worked up about eating that when I do it makes me gag or struggle to swallow, so it’s easier just to go to sleep instead of eating.
These days I’ve turned to soup as the solution, takes no time to make, creates very few dishes to wash (pan,bowl,spoon) and it makes sure that physical malaise doesn’t add to the mental.
When you’re depressed you don’t look after yourself so some of that rundown feeling is physical.
11. It makes everyone else unhappy, too.
Before I was diagnosed with depression, any small significant thing set me off but since it would mainly happen while I was working I had to bite my tongue.
I would be in a rotten mood all the time!
So, if someone starts to be really angry all the time or really only complains about situations they absolutely can’t change (here’s looking at you retail) and you notice they haven’t genuinely be happy in a long time, it could be depression.
12. It’s all a lot of work.
Extra fun if you have depression AND digestive issues. Hard to motivate yourself into spending your non-existent reserves of emotional energy deciding what to eat when you know that, no matter what it is, it’ll probably make you sick anyway
13. It’s a vicious cycle.
This is why I’ve found customer service jobs so emotionally taxing.
You get pi**ed off some time during your shift but still have to be sickeningly pleasant, which means that those feelings sometimes get vented to the people around you once you’re clocked out which makes it difficult to maintain good relationships
14. Lack of interest and drive.
Not being interested in things you used to enjoy.
Random bursts of motivation and happiness for maybe a day or so before going right back to apathy.
15. You don’t realize how bad it’s gotten.
Yes, constant anger for years and a very short fuse.
My poor husband and my poor poor kids did not deserve my lashings.
Thing is, it was only when it turned into deep deep sadness and uncontrollable crying that I finally realized it was depression was all those years.
SSRIs took care of it for a while, it was such a miracle.
Now I think I need an increase in medication, but can’t get it because I’m pregnant.
Hopefully it’s just the hormones making things worse.
Still not as bad as before meds though.
16. Creativity is an energy suck.
As a creative professional this one sucks so hard.
It ki**ls. I can do most things while depressed, I’m probably high functioning for the most part. Every day last semester I went to class, work, smiled, joked, did my job well, etc, and went home wanting to d**. But when it came to my creative endeavors: my classes, my design job, and personal projects, I felt so down on myself that I thought I had nothing to give. Nothing k**ls art like low self esteem.
I mean, the low self esteem did lead to some really interesting poetry and dark experimental art, which is great, but nothing I’d put into a portfolio.
And so I failed almost all those classes, just totally ate the pavement.
And because I kept feeling little bursts of “oh wait, I can do this! I just need to ge…. …” I kept my hopes up until that had burned out, too.
17. When you can’t sleep…
Rumination. This is a big one for me.
It’s where you replay all of the painful and embarrassing things you’ve ever done in your life over and over again.
It’s a terribly difficult thing to stop doing because you don’t actually realize you’re doing it most of the time. You just think you are having the same normal thoughts everyone else is having.
I finally developed my own technique for stopping it, and it’s worked pretty well for a couple of years now.
18. So tough.
Memory loss. I honestly can’t remember half of my life.
Not everyone has this and that’s ok. We all struggle with our mental illnesses in different ways. As long as we seek help, get better, and educate others, that all that matters.
19. It’s not helping.
I still relive memories from 20+ years ago that I just can’t get out of my head.
20. We’re all struggling in different ways.
I have huge gaps in my recollection, and a lot of other parts of my memory are muddled together.
My memory loss is pretty closely tied to depressive episodes. So for example, everything from 2008-10 and 2014-16 are a jumbled mess with whole events completely missing, as well as bits from my childhood. I do find it hard to create new memories, but I’m not unable to. They just aren’t as vivid as the ones from 2007 for example.
Agreed that both stress and age can impact memory, which can make it difficult to determine whether one factor is contributing more to the issue than another. I can’t speculate on what’s normal, but I think the reason I am not completely convinced it’s stress or age related for me is that the most significant gaps in my memory are closely aligned with depressive episodes.
I do also think that depression can impact short-term memory. I saw a lot of comments about being unable to learn new things, and while I don’t think that’s necessarily my issue, I absolutely have problems remembering things I just learned in the days and weeks that follow. I have made it a habit to write down everything, no matter how insignificant it seems. And if it’s work related, I write it down on paper and then I write it again in a searchable format (I use OneNote). It makes me move like molasses at work but that’s the only way I can ensure that I don’t screw up something important.
I read every one of your comments and while it makes me sad that we’re all struggling, I hope some of you walked away feeling comforted that you’re not just dumb or absent-minded as you might have been led to believe. I hope you’ll at least explore the possibility that there are other factors at play with a therapist.
21. You get a little too used to it.
Being comfortable being so uncomfortable in life.
Wanting to be happy and have a great life. But being comfortable in your misery and not having the energy or willingness or care to change it.
Edit: Can’t believe my highest voted comment is about how my head works.
It’s at 7. something thousands upvotes and a load of comments. If anything, it’s good to not feel alone.
I hope each and everyone one of you can get something from the comments. Even if it is just that… you’re not alone.
22. Complete and utter indifference.
I came here to say this. Basically not having emotions.
Not like psychopathy but like a complete and utter indifference to whatever happens to yourself.
I have this emotion a lot and its by far the one that has affected me the most.
Without any motivation its extremely easy to fall behind in schoolwork, become a recluse, and usually that just puts you further into depression.
23. You feel like you can’t do anything right.
Inability to focus. Imagine having to do homework but other members of your family are having a conversation.
All attention goes to the conversation.
Then you realize that you’re listening to the conversation and not doing homework so you spend time mentally beating yourself up because you can’t even focus FOR ONE FREAKING MINUTE?!
24. A fancy word for it.
I think that’s ennui.
I’m struggling with it right now. It happens periodically. It’s just struggling to be interested in anything, it sucks. Plus my hand hurts so I can’t do much anyway.
25. More so than usual.
When I’m having a depressive episode not only does my memory lapse, but I also get extremely unfocused. Almost like confused?
Which can make me a very irritable and short-tempered. It can be tiring and make even the simplest tasks so difficult.
26. It’s not easy.
So much agreement here.
I get told constantly that it’s easy to do the things I’m supposed to. It’s not. It’s really not. Most of the time, I don’t have it in me to take care of myself in lots of ways that I should. And in fact, being criticised over my lack of attention to self-care just makes me want to go back to sleep, or to cry, or even results in me feeling less motivated than I did before I was being complained at.
I know that I’m bad at taking care of myself, and when I respond with this, all anyone replies with is “well why don’t you take care of yourself then if you know?”…… it’s not that easy, although it can be very hard to understand that if you don’t deal with mental illness.
27. No feelings at all.
Not having any emotions or convictions at all. Being BORED!
People associate depression with profound sadness, but especially if it’s chronic, that’s only a small part of depression. You get to the point where you can’t feel anything at all. You don’t get happy or sad, frightened or excited.
You exist without feeling. Imagine living your life not being able to pay attention to anything because it’s so boring — your hobbies, friends, job, your life. Imagine being perpetually bored and only bored, being unable to feel anything but that and occasional, crushing misery.
I think that’s what people don’t get about depression. That it gets so bad that being really sad is actually almost a relief.
28. When it all hits you at once.
For me, it was a combination of depression, anxiety, and ADHD.
Depression and anxiety go hand in hand. The depression is fairly self-explanatory. Anxiety comes in many forms, but can be categorized as “acute” and “chronic.” Acute anxiety is like a panic attack. Also lesser forms, but it ramps up noticeably in a short-ish timeframe (minutes to hours), then falls back down pretty fast, too.
Chronic anxiety is something you might not notice you have right away. I noticed mine because the acute events seemed to be hitting the point where I couldn’t function much faster. I eventually realized I was starting from a much higher baseline. I asked my doctor if anxiety could also be chronic, and she laughed and was like, “Yes! Absolutely!” Ohhhhh.
ADHD is a lot of things, but not being able to start on the tasks I know I need to start on is a huge part of it. “Just go do it, it’s easy!” It’s not easy for me. That is the most consequential way my ADHD presents.
Then they all feed into each other in a compounding loop. ADHD means I can’t get started on a task. That increases my anxiety, which makes it harder to focus, which ramps up my ADHD even more. ADHD means I can hyperfocus on anything that isn’t related to the task at hand. But I start to realize “I’m doing it again” and then my depression starts up. Now I’m anxious, depressed, and can’t focus…which means it is harder to focus, which means I’m more anxious, etc. ad infinitum.
If this seems familiar to you and you don’t have a diagnosis for any of these things, you should think about trying to get a referral to a psychiatrist.
29. Just existing.
General apathy. Not deep dark soul crushing pain or sadness, just feeling nothingness towards everything.
You lose interest in your hobbies, things don’t make you happy or sad, you just sort of exist and go through the motions.
30. Feeling defeated.
That is what I have been defeating these past months. I have to force myself to clean my place, I have to force myself to do the laundry, I have to force myself to go to the grocery store…
It seems like a task that will only take up to 2 hours, but it is soooo hard to do it. I have been retraining myself to think otherwise.
I am noticing improvements within myself, because the forcefulness isn’t as intense as it used to be.
31. Nothing matters.
At first you’re kind of wistful that you can’t seem to connect with other people anymore and then you realize you can’t even really connect with yourself anymore and that should be soul crushing but it’s just more meh.
32. Nothing gets finished.
The inability to complete tasks or meet deadlines no matter how important they are or how much it’s a task you normally enjoy doing.
It’s strange and I don’t know if people talk about it as much, but at least for me it’s not necessarily laying around in bed all day, it’s more like just not paying my bills on time even though I have the money because I don’t want to turn on my laptop, or get up and find my login info to pay something. I know I’ll get late fees and fall behind and I literally have the money and still just don’t do it.
Or, starting a task and essentially sitting staring at it for hours until you eventually abandon it totally even though you wanted to do it and really didn’t require anything of you. When I feel like this it will take me 3 days to finish a piece of jewelry that would normally take an hour, or not packing up my Etsy orders for a week even though it takes literal minutes.
It’s like a hugely weird blend of inability to focus and total apathy and disregard of consequences.
33. Some are struggling more than others.
Embarrassingly I know this trap well. I can already tell I’m sliding downwards because it’s getting easier and easier to cancel things and I’m feeling more isolated and puzzled by people.
I h**e losing progress like this, but you’re right, this pandemic is in some ways my ideal life – but I know it’s doing me no good. I’m actually anxious about topics that excite me usually, it just feels too overwhelming to try and shepherd my thoughts into anything resembling sense.
Replying scares the s**t out of me.
34. It’s costly.
I pay (or don’t pay, rather) my bills the very same way. And have for years, which has cost me an amount of money that I don’t really want to think about adding up.
Thank you for at least confirming I am not the only one doing something I absolutely understand is dumb but doing it anyways.
Best of luck to you, fam.
35. They want to do nothing.
I don’t want to go anywhere. I don’t want to watch anything on tv. I don’t want to play any games. I don’t want to read any books. I don’t want to paint. I don’t want to leave the house. I don’t want to listen to music. I don’t want to go to bed.
I can’t remember the last time I had fun or laughed or enjoyed something and I don’t really want to fix it. I’d like something to take the time between now and bedtime but I’m too meh to find something to do.
Then I do sleep and I wake up but why get out of bed because there’s nothing I really want to do. I’m not sad, I’m just nothing and I’m tired of the nothing.
36. A brain slump.
Nope definitely not you.
Basically, the second something is required of me (no matter how small or insignificant) when I’m in this slump , my brains like “Nah.”
It’s like a direct correlation between “need to do this thing” and “oh this needs to be done? Should be done? Don’t care, we aren’t doing it.”
Sorry you go through this too, as someone who is generally meticulous and on top of everything, it’s infuriating to live with.
37. Mind and body work against you.
And sometimes it can turn on a dime. Just earlier today I was walking laps in a park in my neighborhood, and a wave of apathy suddenly hit.
My shoulders lowered, I started looking down instead of forward, and I went a step or two slower.
When you start thinking “what’s the point”, the rest of your body seems to automatically work less efficiently.
38. It doesn’t have to make sense.
There are times I will wait to do laundry until all my work clothes are disgusting, and I’m washing the least gross shirt in the sink 30 minutes before my shift even though I had the last three days off.
It makes NO sense.
In my experience (maybe it’s been different for you I don’t know) but because I’m not just laying in bed in a dark room all day crying and refusing to answer my phone ( not that there’s any shame in that either) and still manage to appear to at least moderately function people really refuse believe that anything is actually wrong with you.
If I was REALLY depressed, I wouldn’t be able to still manage to hold down a job, or make dinner, etc. so obviously I’m just lazy and looking for attention and just need to be more responsible.
39. A silent soundtrack.
This is one of the things that made me realize I was depressed. Normally I play music on another tab all day while I work at my computer.
Somebody sent me a YouTube link to a song, and it made me realize oh huh, I’ve just literally forgotten to listen to music, and worked in silence, for like a year.
Then when I went to try to pick some music to put on, I wasn’t in the mood for any of it and choosing felt like just another overwhelming task, and I continued in silence.
40. Living for bedtime.
I am bipolar but in my depressive states I wake up in the morning and my first thought is I just want the day to be over so I can go to bed again.
It’s crazy the toll our mental health can take on our physical and emotional, don’t you think?
If you or someone you love has struggled with depression, share you own different symptoms down in the comments (if you would)!