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What is it like to have depression?

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The makers of Cymbalta, an antidepressant, have also made commercials. Without saying anything positive or negative about the drug, it must be said that the commercials capture the heart and pain of depression in a way that puts the filmmakers of Cannes and Sundance to shame. View the first twenty seconds or so of this commercial to feel what it is like to have this illness. Their previous ad was even better, but it could not be found online. (Have a link? Post it in a comment!)

What is it like to have depression?

There are people out there with depression. He knows it's something real. He knows it makes them sick. That's not what he has. He is not sick. He is just bad. There is something wrong with him; he is defective; and he tries not to think about it because it hurts, but he knows it is true. He is terrified to admit these feelings because he doesn't want to believe he is bad. But he knows it is true.

I was walking to my therapist appointment. It was fall, and the management at the office building had planted pansies in beds in front of the building. I saw those pansies because I was looking down. I almost never raised my head in those days. And what I felt was guilt, guilt over those pansies -- guilt because I had never planted my garden that summer, that there were weeds there. Oh, what a bad and worthless person I was, because of those pansies. And I had the presence of mind to know that this feeling was utterly irrational and unrealistic. And it didn't matter; I still felt the guilt. Even today I cannot see pansies without remembering that day.

Death becomes your constant companion. The depressed person dies an invisible death a thousand times a day. She knows she will die young; she knows it is inevitable. She feels it. Her mind wanders because depression makes it difficult to concentrate, and it wanders to the manner of her own death. If she is in the car, she know she will die soon in a gruesome accident. If she is walking down the street, she knows she will be murdered in a random killing. If she is at home, she knows she will die alone when a piece of furniture falls on her, and nobody will notice that she is gone until she has been dead for weeks. She is not afraid of it, but she is already grieving it.

My dream was short, because I slept only in short spurts, and woke up four or five times a night. It was a mercy that this dream was short. The bedroom door was closed, and a river of blood began to flow under the door into the bedroom. In the river of blood were the severed heads of babies. Sleep was my refuge from pain, but sometimes it betrayed me.

She knows she is destroying her family. She knows she is causing pain for her husband and devastating her children. She knows they would be better off without her. She knows her suicide is the second worst thing that can happen to them, but the thing that would be worse would be her continued presence. She is held back only by knowing that the life insurance won't pay out for her suicide in the first two years, so she has to wait six more months. Her husband doesn't even realize that she has just six months to live if they don't find a successful treatment.

That is what it is like to have depression.

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Rosy said...
May 8, 2008 at 12:36 PM  

I have bipolar II and when I get depressed, I can think of nothing but death. I look at the thousands of pills I have stashed over the years, I think about driving the car into a concrete wall when I drive, I cut myself in anger at my own worthlessness. Above all I think that if I were to try to commit suicide, I want to make absolutely certain that it will work. Once I was feeling suicidal and ended up in a mental hospital. Trapped with two dozen other crazy people, listening to the staff complain about other staff members. I will NOT go back! So, of course, I must not have another suicide "attempt;" rather, I must complete the task successfully. This fear of failing - I am a failure after all, that's the whole reason why I want death - has stayed my hand a number of times, kept me from trying that which I desire with every cell in my body, every second of my stupid life.

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