What depression looks like

A year or something ago, I was reading the first chapter of #Dwarf-Planet. In it, the reader is invited to picture what depression looks like for them. What came to me was this:

It felt to me, and still does too many times, like being covered by a dirty shadow that sticks firmly to my skin, prevents me from seeing what’s around as it is, without this unbearable layer of darkness that covers everything. It makes me lose sight of who I am too, of my identity. It makes me look in a different direction than light, than where life is.

Is my depression just about the bad sides though? Would it be some misplaced optimism, or toxic positivity, to say that there are good times that exist not out of my experience of depression, but through it? I’ve always thought that whenever I do something healthy, good, or feel any type of “positive” emotion, it means that I’m stepping out of my own depressed mind. As if I was allowed to be something different, something I’m supposed to be. But what if it was just all on the same spectrum of experiences?

My depression is still there, even during “good” times, and even if good times for me means the average for someone else. It just takes a different aspect. I approach it differently. I negotiate less, I succumb less. What if my experience of depression was also made of the tiny victories? I’ve always tried my best to see depression as something I could almost personalize, just so I can detach myself from it at least rationally. It helps to stop internalizing the shame and guilt. But to some extent, it also makes depression something to avoid absolutely, something ultimately wrong. This way to think has been in contradiction with what I deeply believe in - that human experiences are so much more complex than a good/bad opposition. I’m not grateful for my depression. Still my brain is the same when I experience something more positive or when I achieve a step.

Today, my depression looks like this:

Being outside. Breathing some fresh air. Walking for a bit.

I am ashamed to say, it’s the 17th and I haven’t been outside since the beginning of the year, besides obligations. I haven’t done this for my own pleasure and care. This is the first time of 2022.

It wasn’t particularly enjoyable. My mind was focused on so many different things that had nothing to do with the present moment. I walked too fast to embrace the present. I thought too many times “okay now I can go back home”. I was stepping outside that I already wanted to go back in. It’s not pleasant to do something suposed to be relaxing that happens to be a constant fight.

But I’m glad I did it regardless. Just a tiny step that goes a long way for me. I choose to acknowledge it today and celebrate it. Because being depressed is also made of these moments when we thrive despite the exhaustion, despite the numbness, despite the fears and lack of motivation. I am not healed. I am not cured. But I have done something for myself today, and gave myself another proof that I can be more and do more than what I imagine when I wake up, than what my depressed and anxious mind make me believe in over and over.


Cherish the small steps, the little victories. They are not just a reaction to your struggles or what you have learned to do in order to cope. They are part of who you are, right here and right now. They are part of what makes your own little world turning. They are important, essential, meaningful. They all deserve to be celebrated.

You are strong, resilient, brave and thriving. Being here today and having the possibility to feel the air you inspire is the manifestation of your courageous heart.

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Hello Micro :slightly_smiling_face:
Both of those depression pictures look so nice. Who knew depression could look so beautiful :grin:. I am glad that you were out today Micro. Its a small step but it is a step none other less. Those are very important. When you said walks are supposed to be relaxing I had to pause for a bit because… that is only partially true. There are all kinds of walks. Relaxing walks, thoughtful walks, boring walks, fuck its so hot and if I wount have something to drink in 10 minutes I will literally die walks and other types of walks. Its one of those things that can feel very differently. There is a difference in going for a walk alone or with someone, in a forest or a city, on a sunny day or a cloudy day, again all kinds. Well why dont I show it on pictures too :wink:.


image
And while we are at it this is how my depression looks today.

But enough about walks and pictures. There is something more important I wanted to say. I think that your realization that having depression for such a long time means that it kind of becomes a part of us. That is not a good thing per say but it gives us a unique perspective on the world. There has been a research that found out that people with depression have a more down to earth look at certain situations and are more likely to succeed in predicting outcomes of those situations. Depression is an illness and it sucks but as you said it is not all bad. There is some good in it too even tho I would still rather not be depressed the same as you.

I hope your days will get better Micro. I care about you friend and I want you to be happy :slightly_smiling_face:.

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You were there for the exercise and that’s so freaking awesome that you were able to even go for a walk. but it doesn’t look like you were present for the walk. Next time you go for a walk, try mindfulness.

Feel the breeze and the sun touch your skin, feel the road under your feet, listen to nature… count how many birds you can hear. Feel yourself picking your foot up and placing it back down on the ground and hear the sound it makes. Run your hand along the wall you’re walking next to and feel the textures, temperature and hear the sound as your fingers drag across it. Do you smell anything? What is it? Feel your arms move as you walk, are they heavy or light? Do you feel your hair moving from the breeze? Can you hear yourself breathing? Focus on it for a minute and notice your chest rise and fall. Feel your muscles etc. you get the picture.

While you’re doing this, you’re going to notice your mind wonder and start thinking about the future or the past. Gently without judgement pull yourself back into experiencing this moment right now because it’s the only moment that matters and is real. You’ll notice a different kind of peace after.

This is usually what my depression looks like

But it can also look like this. I drew it on a very bad day for someone I care about.

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When you said walks are supposed to be relaxing I had to pause for a bit because… that is only partially true. There are all kinds of walks. Relaxing walks, thoughtful walks, boring walks, fuck its so hot and if I wount have something to drink in 10 minutes I will literally die walks and other types of walks. Its one of those things that can feel very differently.

Of course! You are right. I should have probably specified that this is what I expect from this type of walk. In french we have the word “promenade” to mention a type of walk that is basically about wandering aimlessly, away from the noise of the world, without any sense of rush, and being eventually mindful while doing so. Walks have been part of my “mental health toolcase” for years now, and I know because I have experienced it, that 1) It is something that I like, that speaks to my heart, and 2) It is a good balance for me between meditating yet being active.But it is also a very challenging practice, because it forces me to kind of face myself, which is tough for someone who’s used to forget themselves by doing things/being busy/being active as much as possible. I know it helps my depressed and anxious brain. But because of them too, I don’t walk as much as I’d like to (or even need to). I can sense the benefit as if I was touching them with my fingertips from time to time, and still aim for reaching a level further somehow, which is a very personal appreciation of course.

To me “relaxing” in this specific context means feeling like my body and mind can slow down, that I can feel away from daily life stressors and commitments for a given time, that I can reconnect to myself and how I feel without the countless layers of anxious thoughts that tend to hide it from me. So yes, definitely a personal expectation! But I keep it very open too. Years ago I would say “it is a failure” if I didn’t reach this expectation. Now I completely accept that each walk is a unique experience, more or less satisfying, more or less relaxing, more or less pleasant - and that’s all. :slight_smile:

Depression is an illness and it sucks but as you said it is not all bad. There is some good in it too even tho I would still rather not be depressed the same as you.

Indeed. And in the present, we get to choose what we want to acknowledge and cherish or not. I have been trying to learn this regarding personal traumas and their effects on my life, on who I am. Being afraid of being hurt, for example, has made me someone who’d rather spend time observing than jumping in a situation. Who’d listen rather than saying something. At first I wanted to reject these parts of myself because I saw them as an unwanted consequence of early life traumas and violence. Now I want to embrace these as traits that can have pros and cons, but definitely have more pros in the type of work I am trained for. I won’t be grateful for past events as if it granted me some gifts. But I choose to take and keep what I want from the consequences of them, if that makes sense. It’s also a way to reclaim my life without pushing my story away.

I hope your days will get better Micro. I care about you friend and I want you to be happy :slightly_smiling_face:.

Likewise, my friend. You deserve the best, truly.

I hope today’s not too much of a Grumpy cat’s face! :wink: :hrtlegolove:

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Thank you @Mystrose for your response! I do practice mindfulness when it is safe for me to do so (it is not always welcomed nor helpful for me). Sometimes the anxiety is just too high and it gets really hard to feel any connection with the world around me, even if I do it intentionally. Just the very act of slowing down intentionally though is already a lot. I may not be connected to the present moment, but I already benefit from the decision of taking a moment for myself, no matter how it goes.

I think that’s also why I miss doing photography - my partner and I used to have walks every weekend in nature and practice this hobby. There is something very grounding and mindful in this practice. I wish this year to get back to it.

Unfortunately, practice is always subjected to my mood and depressive episodes.

I also appreciate you sharing how your depression looks like, both sides of it. There is what’s felt within, and the type of connection it allows you to get with others too. There is a purpose to find in the very act of caring for someone.

It doesn’t just comfort the heart of the other person, but also our own. :hrtlegolove:

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Indeed you do. :hrtlegolove:

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Ok, this is not going to be a “walk pictures” thread, lol, but I wanted to share the following one from today’s walk because of a special significance. For the first time, I’ve used walking as a way to reward myself and not a “self-care task to do”. Just went out before the night came and right after doing something that pushed me out of my comfort zone. It felt good. Soothing.

Most of the time I feel empty and numb, but there is still something beautiful just for being alive.

Here’s to another year of meditative walks and, hopefully, growth too. :hrtlegolove:

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Wow its really nice :slightly_smiling_face:. And you have a nice weather over there! Nice. I hope that is is not as cold as here :wink:.

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Hi Micro :slightly_smiling_face:
This is how my walk looks today :wink: I know graveyard might not seem very optimistic but it is by far the calmest place here :grin:

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I really wish I could go for a walk. That looks nice Ashwell.

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This is how my walk looks today :wink: I know graveyard might not seem very optimistic but it is by far the calmest place here

Dude, graveyards are amazing! I know it’s generally seen as sinister, but I find them so full of life actually. And indeed, so calm and peaceful. I litterally live in front of one, haha. We have a full view on it. I like going there to walk too, as it’s just near to our home.

The one you were in looks gigantic. It must be even more beautiful with these trees during Spring! Look at these rays of light!

Thank you so much for sharing! I hope the walk was a nice one to you. <3

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I really wish I could go for a walk. That looks nice Ashwell.

It is not the same of course, but, there are quite a lot of ambient channels on Youtube of people who filmed nature environment for hours. Others who filmed their walk - without any comments, just the ambient sounds - in different places of the world. I like to watch a bit of those when my body can’t follow. Just very relaxing and immersive, as the photo and sound can be of an incredible quality. :hrtlegolove:

Here’s some examples (and a channel I’d recommend):

If you can’t walk, the walk can come at you. :stuck_out_tongue: (somehow!)

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I also like going to graveyards but most people I know consider it weird :grin:. It is truly beautiful. It is the biggest graveyard in Prague. This is its map (yeah its so big it has ist own map :wink:)

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Those are really great, I will keep both. I lived in a tourist area most of my life and on my lunch hour i would go down to the beach and sit on my favorite rock and listen to the waves and relax. I live an hour away from the coast now, so that’s something I really, really miss. Thank you for this great idea :hrtlegolove:

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Here is my depression today. My boyfriend is having surgery right now, so I went down to the beach and went for a short walk.

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This honestly looks nice :slightly_smiling_face:. I hope everything turns out well :wink:.

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Love it @Mystrose! What a beautiful view! Enjoy. :hrtlegolove:

Thank you so much for sharing the sun with us! :stuck_out_tongue:

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