Understanding Depression

People often ask “What is the difference between the illness that is ‘depression’ and the healthy experience of feeling depressed?”

Unfortunately there is no simple, easy answer to this question.

One way to explain it is…

Feeling depressed is a healthy reaction to an external life event or situation, whereas ‘depression’ is when these feelings are out of proportion to external life events and/or continue longer than a healthy recovery period. Usually the ‘depressed’ feelings are far stronger with depression than we experience when ‘depression’ isn’t present.

We all know the feeling of being down. Here we provide an insight into what it is like to have depression by sharing the descriptions from people with different experiences of depression in the hope that it will help others to better understand what it is to live with depression.

Please send us your understanding of what depression is so we can share it with others here on dNet.org.au

I am writing to share my thoughts on Paxtine.
I have only been on Paxtine for a week so far but it’s been horrible so far with side effects. The first two days I could barely leave the house because the nausea and vomiting was awful. I also have body shakes everyday and dry mouth.
The good thing about it is that it keeps me awake and alert, which was what I was struggling with before when only on anxiety tablets (Alepam). I am mainly taking the Paxtine to help keep me calm during the day so I’m hoping the side effects will ease off in the next few weeks.
Based on my experience, I don’t think this is a very good first time anti-depressant, especially for young girls like myself.

– Emma, 19yo

As I type this my hands are shaking. But the strange thing is, I feel completely comfortable letting you guys know part of my life experience, because it is here, in this website where I don’t feel completely alone and isolated from the rest of the human race.

Depression to me is like a poisonous black cloud that engulfs my entire body and drains all hope, filling me with mixed emotions but mainly utter despair. The confusing thoughts of paranoia, suicide, hate and self doubt zoom in and out of my head but sometimes crash into each other and then there is darkness. My whole entire body aches and it feels as if my legs are filled with lead… each step is a challenge.
Each breath is a challenge.”

– Jo, 18yo

I think that depression is when you feel you dont care anymore about anything. You feel you dont care about yourself or anyone around you.

– Saree, 18yo

The Girl, over there, on the bed
Bland colours fill her thoughts
And dreams
That she hardly remembers
Sorrow filled awakenings
Tormented slumber
Nothing is at peace
She longs to fly
With the birds
Spread her aching, feathered wings
And join her soulmates in the sky

Faces fill her thoughts
As her eyes are closed
Despair, longing, waiting
For something, that may never come
Worser thought
May not even exist
What am I looking for?
What am I waiting for?

I need to get out
Of my life, somehow
I wish I were in hospital
Maybe a mental hospital
Where people give you drugs
To make the pain go away
And sleeping pills
To make your slumber, dreamless
And when you wake you feel rested and happy to be alive
Not wishing you will die during the night
Instead I feel exhausted, like living is a chore
I don’t care about anything or anyone anymore
I am empty inside
And it makes me so sad to admit that
I am scattered

– Sarah, 18yo

I’m now 18, and have lived with depression since I was 13. I can’t describe in words what depression is, but I can describe what, and how I feel a lot of the time.

I feel there is a pulsating ball of negative vibes inside of my body, that itches to get out at every opportunity.
It doesn’t allow you to concentrate on the good things in life and the good things about yourself, but rather it forces your brain to replay your bad qualities, and bad experiences over and over, to the point where it engulfs your entire body, and sends you into a downward spiral of regret, uselessness, guilt, shame, anger and frustration, that is often too hard to escape from.

These feelings can be triggered instantaneously by somebody/something, or build up or accumulate over a day, week etc. until you no longer have control over your mind and body, because it does.

3 months ago, this “ball of depression” had gotten so large and uncontrollable, that I began to cut my wrists. I always believed that depressed people who committed suicide were selfish, but this is not true, because you have no control over your mind when you feel like that. There’s a voice inside my head telling me that I don’t belong on earth, and that no body likes me, and its this voice that then makes me grab a knife and hurt myself. I can’t control it, it just happens, and you don’t even know your doing it to a certain extent. It’s almost as if you and your mind jump out of your body, and allow the feelings of hate and despair to ‘run the show’, and all you can do is watch yourself cut yourself, as if your watching yourself on TV. THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN DO WHEN THE FEELING COMES!

So this is how I feel almost every day, some days I feel happy, and others I wake up regretting being alive. I myself don’t regret being alive, but this thing inside my tells me to feel this way, and I can’t help it, just like when it tells me to hurt myself, I can’t control it.

The only difference between depression and cancer, is that depression is curable, and cancer isn’t. I now believe that nobody can kill themselves, but rather depression kills them, as when it gets to this point, the individual no longer has control over their own mind, and what they do, and thus I feel that depressed people that commit suicide are not selfish, but rather out of control of their life and their feelings, and simply act on negative impulses that crush any ‘apparent’ reason to live.

– Matt, 18yo

I am 18 years old but i have been living with depression since i was 11 – maybe earlier but that is the earliest i can remember being depressed.

I don’t feel sad all the time, but every now and then (sometimes a few times a week but sometimes only a few times a month) I get really sad for no reason. I get irritable and snap at anyone who says or does anything that is even slightly annoying – my reactions are completely out of proportion to the situation. I have had trouble sleeping since I was about 11 – I take at least 30 mins to fall asleep most nights and I will wake up anywhere between one and five times a night. I wake up about an hour before I have to get up and will then fall asleep again about 5 mins before my alarm goes off and then have to force myself to get up out of bed.

When I’m having a bout of depression, I feel drained of energy. I don’t feel inadequate or anything like that but I just feel immensly sad – not the kind of sad that you get when someone close to you dies, but a different kind of sad – deeper and more painful. The worst part of it is that there’s never any reason for my sadness – I just feel terrible for no reason.

At my worst I’ll cry myself to sleep, praying to a God I only half believe in, that I won’t wake in the morning. The only reason why I haven’t killed myself, is that I hate pain and so couldn’t bare to cut myself. I vowed to myself though that if I ever went to Rialto tower or a similar tall building, I would jump off it.

The sadness is suffocating and it seems sometimes to just fall like a sheet over my head and shoulders and then spread slowly throughout my body until I’m saturated in it. When I go through a bout of depression, I have trouble doing my uni work, I can’t concentrate and even going for a walk doesn’t easy my restlessness.

I know this isn’t a very good description but it’s the bet I can do – one day I’ll write a poem to describe it – I find that writing can help. Good luck to all those battling depression, remember you are not alone.

– Kelly, 18yo

It’s a scary thing to do this, actually talking about my own depression. I always thought I was different to everyone else not for the way I looked but the way I thought. I would always think about things differently to everyone else and I could never relax or feel comfortable within my self. My depression had no major trigger or reason for starting which makes me feel even weaker. I have had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 5 years now but the depressive thoughts go back as far as I can remember.

Although I know I have been depressed for a long time I didn’t really recognise it until one afternoon I woke up to my sister slapping my face after I had just taken a months worth of sleeping tablets in the space of half an hour. The next day I couldn’t admit to anyone that I honestly wanted to die. I felt that although I had a bright future ahead of me the pain and darkness I’m in are too strong to keep me going.

I was put into such a strange environment having to spend two months in a psychiatric hospital, but it still wasn’t safe. I was able to try again and was stopped by a nurse and calmed down but the thoughts were still there.

But how do we explain these actions to someone who isn’t in that dark tunnel with us, we can’t!!

At the time of writing this I can give hope to others out there to be patient and keep fighting but I’m unable to believe it my self. Words are so easy but it’s the actions that count and for people like me they are the hardest to think of and put in place. Medication helps, loving family and friends help and doctors help but nothing beats knowing that there are other people out there that can understand what we are feeling without having to say a word and those people help us to not feel like we are mutants in society just people suffering a bad illness.

– Jess, 19yo

Depression is the guilt of my failure to understand what is wrong with me. Why I sleep odd hours, and care less for any hopes I once had. The rejection of faith and belief in failure, that compels me to cast aside all chances of inspiration in success. No one wants to be doomed to a life of unfulfilled dreams, but when the sickness kicks in we stop trying to achieve our aspirations, and fall victim to easy pleasures. Food, sex, sleep, and etc. Whether it be laziness or lack of motivation, depression attacks our inner motivator and tells us softly we are destined to fail.

Truth is it is all a lie that has to be treated. No one is without someone who cares, it is impossible. Even evil men and women had those that cared and loved them, so does someone who thinks they have no hope, and no one to help him. If you feel that life is beyond your grasp, that death is a pleasure, then you are looking at life through the prism of fear, and should seek the assistance of others. Friends, family, girl friends, boy friends, children, wifes, husbands, neighbours, doctors, or in desperate situations strangers can all lead you to the help a despaired depressive person needs. It is not weakness to ask for help, it is strength to recognise a problem and seek to overcome it. God bless and take care.

– Wayne,  20yo

Depression to me is something that if you aren’t strong will cause you to do things you wouldn’t normally do, because you think nobody cares about you, or that the world doesn’t want you in it.

I sit here with it right now as I type. Its not something I get all the time, but when I do its horrible. It comes to me usually when I have bills that need to be paid and I don’t have the money, or even in relationship situations.

A lot of people tell me they get depressed a lot, and I know they don’t. They don’t know what this feels like. They think depression is just not feeling well, or being upset. When I get this way I sit here at the edge of sanity just praying it will hurry up and go away. It seems like everything I think about just makes me want to cry. Why? I don’t know?

There is a girl that I have been talking with for almost 4 months, and she means everything to me. Just recently she decided we needed to back off a little bit. Me being the way, I am have had this feeling for 2 of the 3 nights since then. That is to me how I know it is depression. I think you just know. When I try and catagorise it this is the way I put it. When you sit there and think about everything that is fun to you, but doesn’t feel exciting at the time. It feels like the girl you like wants you off the earth, and doesn’t care about you at all. I sit here and think what is going to happen with my life? Its pointless? This is the way I get through it.

I can feel it starting to come on because I can feel my head getting light. Not as in light headed, but it just feels like it doesn’t weigh anything. My eyes start to feel light, and then my stomach starts to roll. When I feel it coming on I usually get in my car, turn the radio off, and just get a good 5 minutes of yelling out as loud as I possibly can. I just ask? Why? Why do I get like this? Sometimes when there isn’t even anything wrong?

It is impossible for me to get to sleep. Usually it helps if I write to that girl that I care about, and put it on her car, or anything like that it helps. Its just the feeling that you know when she reads it, it will make her smile.

I hate having it, but I know I’m not alone.

It usually only lasts an hour or so, and then I sit and think. What in the world just happened to me? Why did that happen to me? Its so weird. I sit and look around and everything seems normal again? For that one hour nothing interested me, nothing was exciting to me? I hated it. I hated being alive. But this is how I get over it. I tell myself it is going to go away. Just stay calm for a while until this passes. I just pray. I know God always cares about me.

I’m 20 years old now and didn’t really get it until I was about 16 or 17. I know its going to pass. And it always does.

I love to write, and one day I am going to write a book about a young man going through things like I’ve been through in my life. Actually I think I’m going to start on it tonight. Best wishes to everyone, and I hope you all get through it. Just think.. Its going to pass.. Its going to pass.. and it always does.

– Lee, 20yo

I feel numb. That is the best way to describe it.

Sometimes I see myself laughing, yelling, screaming and hurting the people I love. I’m here in the background with my thin pale voice saying “I shouldn’t be doing this”. I want to stop, but sometimes it just catches me by surprise and it’s done before I even saw it begin.

But I never cry. I don’t know if I would be able to stop if I started, so it is best to leave it where it is.

Most people don’t even notice that anything is wrong. If I had the flu or a broken leg they would, but a broken mind or spirit is too “difficult” for them to bother looking for.

The ones who do notice try to make me feel better by saying how nice I am, that they love me etc etc etc Yadda yadda yadda. Their words are a nice thought, and I appreciate their efforts. I just wish they made a difference. I just wish the voice in my head would shut up and stop proving them wrong by pointing out any little discretion or inflection in their voice.

But my brain seeks for the slightest criticism and clings to it like a buoy in the darkness that carries me further away. But the buoy is safe. It whispers that people don’t lie when they criticise, but compliments hide veiled agenda’s. Therefore they are saying the compliments only so they can fulfuil their own wishes, not because they are real.

I feel like I am falling to pieces and the empty gaps get replaced by anger or sadness. But I am not allowed to fall to pieces. Too many people are leaning on me, and if I fall, they fall too and there won’t be anyone else to pick us all up. Losing me, means losing them too.

I have fought on my own against this darkness for 10 years. Always, I was the one helping others with their crisis’ and became more and more despaired that they could not help me with mine. They were looking, but they never really saw me.

But it is not always like this. There are periods of time when I feel, when I can truly laugh, truly look at the light of the day with a smile.

But the darkness always comes back, when I am alone in my weakest hour. Each time it seems to cling tighter, as though it were afraid of losing me. It seems to last longer, just to remind me. Each time I fight.

It just scares me, because I don’t know what will happen when I get too tired to fight it anymore. I just know I have to win the fight once and for all before that happens.

– Lisa, 21yo

I get this welling up feeling in my gut and yes, I get a numb feeling my head and everything just doesn’t seem to have a point to it. I think that everything (including myself) is not worth it. My sleep and appetite go haywire (usually bad sleep and no appetite). I don’t seem to have the energy to do anything (and anyway, if I did there wouldn’t be a point in doing anything). I get extremely irritable too. Everything goes spiraling downhill.

– KF2, 22yo

For about 4 years I’ve had depression on and off. It’s the most horrrible feeling, I don’t wish it upon anyone else.
It hurts to see that you can’t appreciate the good and simple things in life, and it hurts even more when you know everyone around you cares.
Its like I’ve become immune to being happy and all I feel is this incredible urge to cry. Sometimes I can’t even fake being happy anymore.

Most mornings I wake up and wish I hadn’t, but the only reason why I wouldn’t actually act on this is because I know how much it would hurt my parents.

Some people think its something you can snap out of… if only it were that easy.

– Gloria, 22yo

To me, depression is like walking through life with no sense of being/feeling/direction. I travel through my days like a zombie only achieving basic day to day tasks through sheer habit. I hate depression because it makes me hate myself and I am afraid of myself without my medication because my mind takes over my body and I never know what I’m capable of doing. Even though I know I have plenty of support I still feel completely alone because I am expected to “snap out of my moods” and “get over it”.

– Alison, 23yo

Depression is…
Depression is not like
A tunnel
With a light at the end
(Unless, of course, you’re referring
To the oncoming train)
Rather, depression is like
Being trapped in cocoon
Of tightly enmeshed gossamer threads
Each negative thought a further strand.
No matter how hard you beat your nascent wings
Against your mental prison
You cannot get free
In fact
This only ensnares you further in the silky strands
Your dewy wings limp, ragged, in tatters.
So you sigh
And let depression take its weary course
Until one day
After days, months, years of torment
You emerge from your cocoon
Stronger, brighter, more beautiful than before.

– Nicole, 23yo

If you truly want to understand what it’s like to have depression, please take the time to think about each of the following and try to apply it to feelings you have personally felt in your life…
Think back to a time when you felt depressed.
Think back to a time when you felt very lonely.
Think back to a time when you felt so overwhelmed with sadness and regret that you couldn’t think of anything else.
Think back to a time of complete and utter despair.

Now think about all those feelings all at once….24hrs a day, 7 days a week.
Add on top of that daily life: whether it be a stressful day at the office, young children noisily running around under your feet, an argument with a loved one.
Seriously think about the emotions that you would be feeling combining all of this.

Once you have truly felt all these emotions at the same time you will begin to understand how it can be hard to get out of bed in the morning. How going down to the local supermarket for groceries seems like it would take 10 times the energy that you have. You feel both physically and mentally drained. This is (in my view) the world of depression.

– Mishka, 24yo

Depression is like living the worst moment of your life over and over again and continuing to blame yourself.
It is remembering every negative thing that anyone has ever said to you and thinking it is true.
It is analysing every action, tone and movement around you.
It is blaming yourself for everything and believing that it really is your fault.
It is a desolate loneliness, a hole in your heart that will never be full no matter how hard you try.
It is prolonged periods of silence where you think about times when you were happy and whether you ever will be again.
It is wishing you were dead because you feel so low.
It is a constant feeling of wanting to escape from yourself, where death would be better than feeling what you feel.

– Tish, 25yo

You are so hurt by the little things in life, such as someone back chatting you, a rejection letter from an employer, an argument or even forgetting an important item. I am hurt by the fact that my child will turn 5 soon and I have not found joy in her presence since she was 2 and a half. I find her irksome when she should be a joy with all the new things she is learning and every miracle wonder she talks to me about and questions me on but I feel like I have missed out on so much.

I am constantly thinking about how I am feeling and how everything is such an effort… but what about her? How does she perceive me, her mother, who finds it difficult to get out of bed, who sees getting her something a huge effort when all she really wants is love and attention?

The sad thing is that being depressed has made me miss out or forget those precious moments and when I look at her, I can see how much she has grown up and I think to myself, how can she be that grown up when I can only remember the time not long ago when I was still toilet training her….somehow the time has slipped away and I can’t remember it because I was too busy taking care of myself.

I could have reveled in her growing up but all I see is how much I have failed… and having this illness only compounds my thoughts and feelings. “Why couldn’t I cope?”, “Look what you have missed out on”, “Gee she’s grown up, how have I missed the signs of her growth?”. Depression makes me feel more remorse and regret than anything else.. having this illness is like being in a prison.

– BlueGirl, 25yo

I  think depression is like being stuck in a void like bubble unable to penetrate the inner surface, or similarly like being a passenger on a train of your life that you can watch but seem unable to touch, control and sometimes unable to even remember.

It is frustration from the lack of reality you get to experience, which is why I used to get so confrontational, just so I could force the situation to feel something real !!

But the interesting thing is that when you can recognise what is happening and are able to do something about it, like letting a friend know or going to see a doctor ( like when your sick with the flu) that is when you are able to realise that there is a feeling at the end of the tunnel.

– Rohan, 27yo

My view of depression is still affecting me today. I don’t know anyone that is not asking “Who am I ?”

I was diagnosed with manic depression at the age of eighteen while in high school too. It was apparently the day I was told “You’re adopted” that my perception of myself was forever changed. I have an ok relationship with family and friends but I turned people away because of fear of them not understanding.

Depression can make you react as if there is nothing left to turn to, feeling incredibly lonesome, uncontrollable tears and paranoid feelings. I found that I was analysing everything and one minute I could be pleasant followed by becoming argumentative later. Taking medications like Paxil ,etc. can help alter your moods but once it fades with the effect, it’s even worse. Sleeping all the time becomes habit forming and totally irritating like a record stuck in a groove. I did seek help and still manage to fall under this disease but I keep trying to work it out with guidance by friends and loved ones.

The advice I was given was to stay busy all the time, embark on something challenging or creative and when I feel bad I seek out my peers again. Depression does not mean you’re crazy or beyond hope.

– Kyle, 30yo

Depression for me is the overwhelming-ness of life. Having no energy for the simple tasks of day to day and watching other people and wonder how they do it.

When I have a depressive episode I tend to shut the world out and loose interest in my surroundings. Generally this is because I am so ashamed of myself and don’t want people to see me in such a state of mess.

Being depressed is a negative state of mind and you feel the world upon your shoulders that is so heavy that you can’t take personal criticisms or anything else negative from anyone else because you are already beating yourself up so much about how you have failed at life.

Trying to live a normal life is just about impossible. Simple tasks like making decisions and trying to remember things is a real struggle. Trying to put energy into things that take more than a few hours also a struggle. And always a sense of feeling run down and its hard to be happy about things because all you can think of is all the negative things. Even when you have part of your life going in the right direction there are always other parts that suffer because you only have so much energy. A vicious cycle of failures and an endless black pit that you try to get out of where the dirt continuously falls back in your face and puts you back where you started.

– Mattsmum, 30yo

Depression is screaming inside for help but nobody hears while your heart nearly explodes from the pain of knowing you are alone.

I live for days in a haze of blissfull ignorance only to be shoved back into the dark reality of the thruth, where sleep comes only when I pass out from exhaustion.

– Angela, 32yo

Depression is like walking around in a life full of sour treacle, every effort, movement or breath is a struggle, the hours take months but the weeks disappear as deadlines and plans cascade off the desk of life into nothingness. It’s too dull to hurt, pain and pleasure are replaced by that insipid, tepid soup of malaise, slowly drowning in a sense of one’s own uselessness.

Being depressed is like being crushed solely by the air you breathe, slowly choking like a bizarre ballet of idiocy as one meanders lazily through the echoes of your former self, at a complete loss as to how you ever were capable of achieving anything at all, being awake is tiring, the heaviness of words making them too terrible to wrench from a page, too awkward a device to find help, just reaching for awake-ness seems to be a disappointment that you survived the night when surely the world would be so better without you. It is the feeling of constant and ever-present dread, never escaping nor relaxing its grasp off you, it is the sense of fear from Orwell’s 1984 without the hope to fight back against the oppressor.

Some days its even worse. But other days like a fog it begins to lift and you can find the warmth slowly seeping back into you, they are the good days.

– Sean, 33yo

I feel like an 80 year old woman in a 33 yr old body.
Everything feels as though it is in slow motion.
I feel my eyes, my cheeks sagging, aching, heavy.
I feel that everyone can see just by looking at me that I am depressed,
that they can see the fear and utter exhaustion in my eyes – yet I can’t fake it.
My soul is screaming out for help.
I can see I am not taking care of my appearance, but I haven’t got the energy to do anything about it.
I watch other people laughing, living their lives, moving forward – and I feel like an observer of life, stagnant, afraid.
I drag myself through each day in despair and utter hopelessness.
And I tell myself it is all my fault, that I should just snap out of it.
I have no energy or interest in anything.
Nothing lifts my spirits or sparks me to life.
It feels as if there is no end to the pain.
I can’t make a decision to move forward out of the pit, so I stay stuck.
I am a robot going through the motions, day in day out.
I am in a mental prison.
My true self is screaming for release, but I don’t know how to escape this hell.

– Kate, 33yo

I would have to say it is one of the worst experiences that I have ever had to endure. My heart feels like it is breaking every day. I cry so much, the tiniest of criticism basically tears my heart out. I feel so unloved, alone, lonely, worthless. The slightest thing stresses me out, I feel like I am suffocating. And on top of this I have one very uncaring husband, 5 children and a house to take care of.

– Caz, 35yo

Depression is all consuming. It infiltrates your thoughts, your heart, your entire being. It can cause secondary problems like tachycardia…as I have, and it makes me wonder if my fibromyalgia is directly related. But mostly, depression is a heavy fog in my mind. It slows my ability to solve or answer simple questions or issues. It’s a voice inside of my mind, my voice that continually berates, belittles, condemns and destroys what self-worth I once had. The voice gets louder at the simplest of triggers. If someone is talking about life in a positive way, they’re happy, they’re successful, they’re smiling or laughing…the voice reminds you that you are none of those, you will be none of those and you have no right to be one of those people. You are incompetent, flawed in every way, defective if you will and you will always be that way. The voice tells you that people whom were able to overcome depression with will power…well…they’re not like you…you’re different and you will never be like them.

You notice that you can no longer laugh…not organically. You rarely smile, unless socially pressured to do so. You’re sick with headaches and tired all the time. Sleep eludes you and when you do get it…it’s never restful. You wake up with the same fatigue, sadness and loneliness. People stop talking to you, because they can ‘feel’ the depression that emanates from you…that consumes and transcends every conversation to some degree. You lose friends; because they cannot handle depression…all the while YOU are the one battling it, not them.

If you’re in school, homework is nearly impossible…and even if you are very bright and schoolwork normally comes easy to you…with depression it will take you twice the amount of time to finish…and leave you utterly exhausted afterward. A job, and holding one, becomes impossible. You cannot get out of bed, sometimes literally. Eating either becomes excessive or nonexistent. Suicidal thoughts are buoyant and always resurface, multiple times a day, and preform little skits inside your mind…how, when, where…and such. You want to go to sleep and never wake up. You cry and cry and cry…and many times…your soul begs for something, anything to change. You truly believe that your family would be better off without you…as then you would not be a burden to them. You do not want your kids to be influenced by your illness.

Depression…ultimately…is a parasite within my mind. It has taken over its host and I no longer have ‘my’ life; it has ‘my’ life now. It has quite literally changed the person I was into a zombie…except a zombie with negative emotions. The parasite survives by destroying anything that resembles happiness, success, stability and joy; and what the parasite defecates are sorrow, self-hatred, condemnation and pain.

What I wonder is this: If somehow, some way, I am able to kill the parasite…will I return to who I was?

– Janet, 38yo


I am now a 40 year old woman, with two teenage girls living at home. I am a single mother & until about 5 years ago, had thought that my depression was just due to lots of combining incidents, such as a difficult childhood, divorce, difficult childbirths, hysterectomy and lots of moving around (homes).

I have since found out this is not the case, though they were contributing factors. My illness, which has been diagnosed now as Manic Depression, is chemically imbalanced. This means, & I have only come to accept this realization after two recent nervous breakdowns, that I will be on medications for the rest of my life.

The thing I find hardest to comprehend, is the stigma that goes with having a mental illness, a lot of people in today’s society treat you as if you have the plague, while others simply smother you. Neither is good. What we really need is just to know people around us care about us and are there for us in our time of need. Health professionals can help, but its not enough. Society needs to be educated how to treat people in our situation, not molly coddle us or treat us as if we have the plague. Mental illness is a big part of society.

– Jacque, 40yo

At  some point in the distant past, I crossed a line which I now have difficulty crossing back over again to “the right side”, if such a thing exists. I constantly feel drained, down and out, even my own attempts to recover are futile. I always seem to end back at a point of no hope. All my efforts seem to be worthless, I have trouble sleeping and couldn’t be bothered to eat properly. I avoid people and public as much as possible. I contemplate suicide on a regular basis although for some reason not all days are as bad as others. Life is a drag, not a joy. I can’t remember the last time I really felt good about something deep down inside. Sometimes I feel as if I am going crazy. My thoughts and emotions constantly focus on despair.

– Roger, 40yo

“I was sitting outside on this beautiful evening. I could see the sun shining through the tree, I looked around and could see the perfect afternoon and how beautiful the day was, but I couldn’t feel it. I remember what it is like to feel it in my mind, but it is as if there is an invisible barrier between the world and my senses. I know I should be able to feel it, but like a stranger I notice that it doesn’t penetrate my body into my soul.”

– Marcus, 42yo

What’s the point?

There is no reason to live, to be here, to go on. All my efforts are futile, my busy-ness a desperate distraction, to keep my brain from the glaring truth, that I don’t deserve to live, have no reason to live, am a no-one, useless, a waste of time and breath.

I feel the potential that is me, I glimpse that potential as I live and move each day when I’m ‘up’, but people don’t see this me, they don’t acknowledge this deep self that lurks there too and I can’t take it anymore.

I hide from people because I can’t keep the charade going, because it takes too much energy. I want to hide away, not go out. There’s no reason to look good, to mind my appearance, wash my hair, to lose weight, to move from my chair. I communicate by email so that I can hide, my words play confidently on the screen and we all pretend I’m okay.

– Beverly, 43yo

Different things to different people, but a common thread is the lack of ability to function properly, lack of interest in anything, like someone’s cut out your pleasure centre, no energy, apathy, mood swings, appetite changes, nausea, sleep changes and a ‘who gives a rats’ attitude. I could go on and on.

– Paddy3, 44yo

I have been diagnosed with chronic depression for 14 years but feel “it” has been part of me for most of my life.

Its a fuzzy feeling that devours every part of you and has taken me to attempted suicide more times than I care to remember but have been hospitalised four times as a result.

Some days I can’t cope with even the most basic of tasks, but other days I breeze through with no effort. As I’ve had “it” for most of my life I don’t know what it feels like to be totally well. Add to that other life threatening illnesses and that is me.

I live in a three bedroom house with my teenage son. He is my life line as is my GP. I don’t go to counselling as its too expensive. The mood support group in my area is my other lifeline. Since I have found depressioNet my feelings of self worth have improved its great just to know how many other people are out there like me. Thanks for the lifeline here!

– Downandout, 48yo

Depression is being in a state of isolation akin to being in solitary confinement. Feeling worthless and taking up space in a world occupied by ‘normal’ people. Feeling scared that you are hurting your child with your depression. Wanting to flee but where to? I don’t want to die but I just don’t want to go on living either

Depression is feeling like you are drowning and unable to reach the life raft that is just out of your reach. Depression is like wanting to disappear, to quietly dissolve away so as to escape this pain, this feeling of not being ok, not feeling ok and asking why, why do I continue living when it is such a struggle; when you have tried so hard and every avenue of promised recovery seems to come to a dead end; when you just don’t want to continue anymore as you are too tired, too tired to fight any more.

And, yet the will to live is still there, flickering like the tiny flame of a candle, about to wane at any minute but then without any reason and against all odds, it just burst into a tiny flame, determined to survive and give it the one last fight.

My Depression is like my chosen name ‘Candle’ meaning uncertainty. Will it continue to flicker or will it wane???

– Candle, 49yo

I find the main problem we have to deal with is the old “get over It get on with your life” or “there no such thing” or “it’s been two years”.

I had a double whammy, a complete breakdown and I lost my father in the same month. I’m healing slowly.

But the next person that comes up with one of those sayings is going to hit me in the foot with their shin. I don’t know about any one else but I’m climbing the ladder to get out of the black whole and these clowns knock me down a few rungs.

Whatever we suffer Panic attacks, chronic depression, Anxiety attacks and social phobia [I got the lot], it’s not contagious. An everyday problem can feel like the end of the world. We need praise not criticism.

– Andy, 50yo

My name is Cate.

I have suffered depression for most of my life, I’m 53 and wonder how I have lived this long.

Sad, teary, ok, sad, teary, ok has been my life cycle. When I’m sad the world is grey, monotone, lonely, sleep deprived, living on the edge of a yawning black, deep pit.

I don’t feel safe, no one is there… the judgement emanates… get over it, what have you got to be depressed about, grow up, nightmares aren’t real, you don’t need the light on, you’re being silly, you weren’t shy, are phrases that friends (seriously, in my world, friends don’t say this.

I would give ANYTHING not to feel like this, sad, sore, heartsick… feels like crap) family (your step father didn’t do those things, how did we come from the same mother, people felt sorry for you, your real father didn’t want to know you, grow up, get over yourself, you’re a bastard… you’ll never amount to much… do us all a favour and disappear, how did your husbands put up with you, you’re not my sister).

These words echo my inner dialogue.

Mostly I show the outside a friendly courteous face… that’s what people want to see, I’ve realised that people don’t want to know that you’re sad, depressed, anxious, scared.

So, I hide, I don’t let people see what’s inside. Reading, family history, asking people about their lives makes life bearable, revealing my thoughts, likes, sadness pushes people away is what I have learned.

Is this part of depression, this perception?

– Cate, 53yo

I admired this person and relate so well to these words…..

“These are what I call the ‘fall-outs’ the things one does not find in medicinal books but usually written on the faces of those under the heavy load of ‘d’. These analogies are my own and come through decades of experience and if I am not clear then you will have to bear with my verbosity/wordage…

Here goes:

  • Its tentacles reach out and tear from the ones we love any semblance of ‘self’ they had before
  • It takes from us the ability to communicate in the words we so desperately need
  • It makes us hurt the only people we have left that do understand
  • It traps us in a world of “I-ness” when the only thing that counts is “I” and the wall built up between “I” and the world is made of all the things that I did before but now dead or gone
  • It glories in the history of the destruction it causes yet purposefully makes us forget the some of the good times we had whether those good times can be measured in hours, days, years, decades
  • It makes those under this burden crawl to stand tall again
  • It make us strangers to those we know so well
  • It makes us mute in our own defense of actions done under its direction
  • It makes us weave fanciful nothings when in truth reality is there desperately waiting to be called to the witness box and be heard
  • It makes us think that there is nothing like this we are suffering and we know better than that
  • It takes the backbone from the strong, breaks it over its knee and then tells you to stand up straight
  • It likes to hurt for the sake of reminding us of its presence
  • It fools us into thinking that it cannot be done away with or cured
  • It feeds off our mortal fears that all humans have makes those fears seems huge in proportion to common sense
  • It despises love
  • It needs to have the ultimate sacrifice of the “you” to it and then you are bound to it until you are sucked dry
  • It comes to the door via grief, torment, past wrongs, memories, illnesses, a weak moment, circumstances of birth and nature, hurts, harms and in our weaknesses when it knocks it knows it is welcome
  • It hates us with the intensity other-worldly because within each of us is the seed, the will, the knowledge of how to destroy it and once again live in the light of this world. It does its best to smoother this hope but for each of us the light shines on. “

may just help someone else like it did me at the time.

– Pix, 53yo

I have been lying in bed with the covers up over my head consumed by sadness and inertia and wondering how much longer I can keep fighting. Yesterday afternoon and evening I thought I felt some energy returning but this morning I seem to be back to square one.

Hope seems the ever elusive dream these days and I wonder how much longer I can sustain the mask I am trying to wear here at home. It is full of holes but I don’t want my children to see this torture if I can help it. Today I was going to have the blood tests my GP ordered for me but I am not sure if I even have the strength to get dressed let alone venture out of the house.

On Thursday I see John again. He will be expecting a big improvement but I am afraid of letting him down also. I am tired of being tired my friend, of never seeing the light during the day, not being interested in the moonlight ­ of just existing on some form of basic level devoid of any of the things that help propel us through life. I feel useless and inert and wish this black hole would swallow me up without leaving a trace of me to pollute the earth ­ a cremation of body and spirit is what befits me at present.

I am so sorry for being me and for bringing you such miserable news all the time. My soul aches for one spark from a candle so that I may see ahead again. Hope for tomorrow eludes me and I am lost.
I feel like a robot with flat batteries too tired to trudge through the black sea you find yourself in. Someone has tied a tight band around your head so that you can’t think, eat or move. Sometimes even too tired for tears – the living dead.

– Moonlight, 56yo

You can get all sorts of physical reactions from depression. I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks, found it very difficult to talk and my brain did seem to be totally scrambled and numb while they were going on.

– Eagle, 56yo

Depression to me is worst thing I have had to deal with, I’m still not over it.

I’ve never felt so low in life like I am feeling now. I would rather die then have to live one more day like this.  I’ve tried so hard to be strong
but the world is giving me every reason to fail myself and not get better.  No matter what meds I take it never goes away. It makes me ask the question why
would anyone want to live there lives feeling like this. I still don’t know.

I hope one day depression is only a world and doesn’t actually exist upon humans!

– Rema