How Depression Makes You Separate from Your Life

I mentioned Friday how depression keeps you from doing chores but didn’t have time to talk about it (because dishes), so I wanted to explain a bit more about how depression makes you separate from your life. That’s the phase or type of depression that affects chores for me. Where I find I do less of the positive things and more negative things (which could mean drinking alcohol, going back to bed, or simply not doing anything).

You see, sometimes, having depression is like watching a movie. You’re watching the main character and thinking, “No, don’t do that. You should do this instead.” But no matter what you do while watching a movie – talk, shout, beg, or threaten – you can’t change what the characters do. You’re separate (just an audience member): you have no power over their actions.

In this kind of depression, it’s like the part of your brain that wants to be productive or responsible is walled off from the rest by glass. You can hear it, but it has no power. So you hear it think, “I need to do the dishes.” Or “Stop watching tv and go to bed.” Or “Turn off social media and do laundry.” But the part of your mind thinking those things doesn’t have control. It can beat against the glass all it wants, the rest of the mind isn’t listening.

And the frustration that section feels? It’s distant, too. Even if you feel it or recognize it, it’s far away and much quieter than the numbness or overwhelmed feelings that so often come with depression. So you hear the voice, wish distantly you could respond, but know even as you wish it that you’re not going to.

As if a character in the movie could hear the audience’s cries but had no power to change the outcome.

That feeling of being separate from your life (and yourself) and not having the power to change even your own behavior is truly terrifying (even if we can’t feel the terror when it happens). See, we as humans like to believe that we are in control of our minds and our bodies, but that isn’t true. Depression illustrates that in horrifying detail because it separates you not only from your own life but from your own mind. And it’s not something willpower can change.

That’s part of what makes depression so dangerous and difficult to deal with. You’re relying on your mind to try to fix it, but your mind being sick is part of the problem. In fact, it’s the main part of the problem. But figuring out how to stop feeling separate and give the good part of your brain control again isn’t simple or fast. And meanwhile, you have to deal (somehow) with how depression makes you separate from your life. And everything else.

For anyone dealing with this, I’m sorry and wish you the best of luck! You’re not alone.

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