Content warning: this post contains details of depression and suicide, and may be triggering for some readers.
“It’s an absence of self. Most people have a hard time understanding the concept of absence or emptiness. They understand a positive or a negative but to understand nothing is a different ball game in abstraction.
“It really is a hole, a dark room, but it’s the whole world day after day. It’s all the same.”
A Reddit thread asked the question “What does nobody tell you about depression?” attracted more than 1200 responses.
Most people understand depression to be synonymous with sadness. Yet depression is a characteristically private battle that, unless one has experienced or witnessed it personally, is unimaginable.
As someone who has suffered from depression, I can attest to the incredible insight the responses offer.
If you haven’t experienced depression, it’s impossible to know its effects.
1. It effects your memory
One user wrote, “It seriously effects your memory on top of your motivation. I’ll walk by the sink, see the dishes and think ‘I’ll do those in a minute’ and within five minutes I literally forget that the dishes need doing.”
"I'm average intelligence, but my depression makes it so hard to remember anything," another described.
Studies have found untreated depression shrinks the hippocampus, which is the brain region responsible for memory and emotion. The earlier the intervention, the less likely it is to have long-term, permanent effects on the brain.
2. You lose your sense of self
"It's an absence of self", perfectly encapsulates the feeling of hollowness experienced by individuals with depression.
"You lose yourself, you literally forget who you are. I know a common symptom of depression is losing interest in things you used to enjoy... But to me, it was more like I actually forgot who I was and what I liked and what sort of things made me happy." (Post continues after gallery.)
One commenter wrote, "It's not that you're sad all the time, it's more like there is no emotion in anything. No joy, no excitement... nothing." Many agreed that depression for them wasn't an endless stream of tears, but a state of apathy.
"It's like I'm just going through life sleeping," another user said. Many sufferers feel like they're in a dream, or watching themselves from above, going through the motions.
4. Personal hygiene
"How little you shower or engage in personal hygiene. I can go days without brushing my hair, my teeth or having a shower. Same goes with wearing dirty clothes," one contribution read.
Sylvia Plath famously wrote in The Bell Jar, where she describes her deteriorating mental health, "It seemed silly to wash one day when I would only have to wash again the next. It made me tired just to think of it."
Is our constant quest for happiness actually making us more unhappy? (Post continues after audio.)
Feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of having a shower or looking after oneself is a common symptom of depression.