Describing what it’s like being depressed is like trying to nail jello to the wall

Let me start out by saying that I know this is a bad idea. I know what I’m about to undertake is probably folly and arrogant and ill-advised. But dammit I said I wasn’t going to flinch from this topic and if I get to keep nothing going through this life, I’ll keep my word. This is what it’s like (for me) going through depression.

First of all, this is not what it is. It is not me balled up in the fetal position in the corner of my bedroom. It is not me roaming the rooftops with a high-power rifle or looking longingly at sharp objects or tall buildings. It is not me ranting and raving, going through wild machinations and wilder moods to the horror of my family. No, for me, a veteran of over 30 years of this crap, it’s much more subdued.

Most episodes come on like a head cold. Except instead of a scratchy throat or watery eyes I have a general tiredness or lack of purpose. I begin to feel like I’m constantly spinning my wheels and nothing seems to give me concrete proof that I’m making any progress. I search for milestones regarding my health, my work, my relationships and even my writing and all I see is the stalled vehicle that is me unable to advance any of these things. Once I realize I’m entering an episode I almost invariably look for answers. I should know better.

After so many years and so many bouts with this foe I ought to know that searching for reasons is futile. Like the half-hearted jab it is, this attempt to find a root cause is slipped effortlessly by my nemesis and I’m left more frustrated than before. Still, I mull over what I, my job or any number of other things have done to kick over that first turd domino. Ultimately I conclude it’s a personal flaw or a genetic weakness or a character shortcoming, all of which move me backward, not forward, in getting through the molasses I now find myself navigating. Unfortunately once I realize I’m in the crud, not having a clue as to what got me here leaves me with nothing concrete to fight and no ideas on how to get out. And although I have come up with some tactics over the years none of them is sure-fire.

I try to get plenty of rest without going overboard. When things are at their worst sleep is a refuge but once I get out of bed I ultimately end up feeling worthless having slept so many possibly productive hours away. Cutting myself some slack and remembering that God made me the way I am (and that was for what reason again?) comforts me but unfortunately lacks the practicality to boost me out of the funk. These methods aren’t undertaken in any particular order nor even necessarily fully completed as I try to wrestle myself back among the living. I say living because at this point I’m really not living, I’m just surviving. I’m putting one foot in front of the other (Santa Claus is Coming to Town) and breathing in and out (Sleepless in Seattle). I am reaching far and wide for victories (like those eclectic references) and I’ll try anything.

I’ll tell myself that ice cream fixes everything and binge reading until my eyeballs burn makes me realize I’m still alive. “Sometimes you just got to do something bad. Just to know you’re alive”-Chris Stevens-“Northern Exposure”. Then there’s anger and rebellion and a host of other related emotions/tactics not the least of which is taking on a devil-may-care, who-gives-a-crap, wise-ass persona because if my melon slid me into this junk on its own then why can’t I just be pissed at it? So, you may be asking yourself, does all this stuff work? The answer of course is yes, and no.

Nothing is a panacea, a cure-all that magically brings me out of the shit bright shiny and new. It’s a bit like getting over a cold too, really. I wake up one morning and the dread of another day deceiving everyone isn’t upon me immediately. The thought pops into my head as I brush my teeth that I am, come to think of it, not a worthless pile of goo. Perhaps I do something nice or give to another person (an act that heretofore I couldn’t fathom because I had nothing to give) and I’m further buoyed and things begin to move forward for me. Like the slow grinding of the music as a carousel begins once again to spin around after the kids are in their places; my life begins to move even as I remain a little fearful. I have reason to be.

I’ve been around this circle enough times to know relapses happen. The bright lights of the ride dim then go dark and the music warps to a halt. Hopefully it’s

just for an evening or half a day but there have been worse times. And that’s what scares me the most, a descent back down deeper into the valley because as bad as it’s been it can always get worse. Despite the fear and gnaw of anxiety I press on and up toward the light. Dealing with the unknown of the condition is part of it.

I’ve had to accept that this is how I’m made. I’m not looking for sympathy or saving or solutions from anyone but I do still look for purpose. It’s why this was written. I can’t say my experience is like others or that it’s like someone you know or love but what I can say is that if you have someone in your life with this thing, they need you.

Chances are they may not be able to tell you what they need or how to fix it but they need you. They need your presence and your love (both regular and tough varieties) and they need your encouragement to keep fighting. Get beside them and promise you won’t leave until the fight is over this time. Tell them come hell or high water you’re in it with them. Tell them you’re not going anywhere and you’ll be there the next time this bastard comes around and together you’ll beat him back again and again and again. Tell them you won’t quit. Because even though they might want to, because it looks like the only way out; they can’t. They can’t go anywhere. This unwanted fight comes to them and their life depends on winning it. Good luck in the battle; and Godspeed.

So, no idea if that will be helpful or even educational but there it is folks. If you have questions, input, insight or objections please call me (402-740-7393) text me or email me at And, of course if you know someone who deals with this, please pass this along if you think it might help.

I blog every week about all kinds of stuff; not just depression. Click here to go to the main page of my blog. If you like what you read please subscribe by clicking this (you can subscribe at the blog too). Subscribing is free and means you will receive an email on Saturdays with links to the week’s posts. Please don’t worry, I never sell or share emails so you won’t get a bunch of junk.