Content warning: This post contains themes of mental illness that some readers may find triggering.
Sometimes it’s triggered by a loss or something that upset you that day. Sometimes, nothing at all.
But what about when that sadness never goes away? Or when it doesn’t feel like sadness anymore, when it’s just… a bleak and abundant nothing?
How do you know when you’re not ‘just sad’, but living with a mental illness? What does depression feel like?
In a viral Reddit thread, users shared the thing, moment or repetition of behaviour that made them realise they weren’t ‘just sad’. They needed help.
We asked an expert to explain the difference between sadness and depression below. Post continues after video.
“If I go more than two days without a shower unintentionally, that’s my signal to myself that things are starting to slide and to get help.”
“When I didn’t have the energy to shower. Like how much energy do I really need for that? Apparently a lot.”
“I realised something was up when one, I couldn’t pinpoint why I was sad. And two, when I realised that people don’t think about killing themselves every time a minor inconvenience happens. I also get symptoms like numbness, anxiety, not being able to concentrate, changes in sleeping patterns.”
“When I looked at the calendar and realised five months passed by like nothing.”
"When I had good days and thought to myself, 'I'd still rather not be here anymore'."
"I was 14 and crying on my bathroom floor telling my parents my heart hurt. It was the only way I could describe my depression at the time."
"When I realised that even when there wasn't something going on around me that should make me sad, I was sad. It could be the best of days, everything going alright, and I could feel the light switch in my head click and then my emotions became so heavy."
"When brushing my hair became a chore. Talking to my friends became a chore. Seeing my boyfriend became a chore. Everything became a f**king chore."
"I don't experience sadness as much as a loss of interest combined with a sense of pointlessness to doing anything. I end up 'eating by the clock', I'm not hungry but it's been long enough since I last ate, so it's time for food."
Mia, Holly, Jessie and their producer Elissa Ratliff question why there’s a huge mental health crisis in rural Australia and what we can do to help below.
"I use any sort of hygiene as a marker. Not taking makeup off, not washing my face, not having the energy to shower or brushing my teeth. When it's really downhill I forget about deodorant."
"I kept saying it was PMS, except it wasn't actually timed with my menstrual cycle. I was seeking some sort of explanation so I could find a solution."
"In the end a friend asked me, 'What if it's a mental health thing?' I then rang up my dad, who had well-managed anxiety and told him how I was feeling. When he said 'do you think it could be depression?' it sort of clicked. One weekend at home crying my eyes out and I was on my journey to getting a diagnosis and help and learning to manage my condition."
"I was at the beach on a beautiful day surrounded by all my friends and I remember just thinking to myself, 'this is it, this is supposed to be one of the better parts of life'. But it felt like someone had cast a blanket over me and I couldn’t turn my brain back on again."
"Honestly, it was just a never-ending slump, which burned a hole through my chest."
"The turning point for me was when I started having scary thoughts about suicide. I’d be driving down the road and seriously wonder what it would feel like to wrap my car around a tree. The way I explained how I 'felt' to my mum was that I didn’t necessarily want to die, but I didn’t really want to live either. I didn’t feel like there was any reason to live."
"When you start to totally hate yourself and want nothing more than to die, you kinda start to realise. That and when I dissociated so badly that every morning I watched myself wake up and go through my morning routine and drive to work. That was just freaky enough to know something was wrong."
"When I was in middle school I realised that I was watching my life as if through a dark corridor with a window at the end. Someone was going through the motions and I was just an observer."
"I just couldn’t find joy in much. I did things because I had to and not because I wanted to."
"When you no longer get joy or pleasure from activities that you normally love, you know that it is much more serious than just being sad."
"I had a moment where I started avoiding all three of my hobbies because I sucked at all three of them. I thought it wasn't worth doing anything because the end result would be never good enough for me."
"Realising things like 'Wow, I used to really like listening to music. I can't remember the last time I just sat and listened to music' or 'I used to read so much, and now it's so hard to focus through a book'."
"I got more irritable and avoidant, my anxiety worsened and I'd spend most of my free time alone. I drifted along with no real goals for myself, no real enjoyment. I think the agitation and anxiety are the worst."
"When I stopped being able to feel sadness, or almost any other feeling."
"It took months to concede. I couldn’t stop crying, and would go to bed super early just because lying there under a blanket sounded better than anything else."
"After reading this thread."
If you or someone you know is experiencing depression or struggling with their mental health, call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1800 224 636 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800. If you are in immediate danger or at risk of self harm, call 000.