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What does depression feel like? Trust me – you really don’t want to know

Tim Lott, ‘What does depression feel like? Trust me – you really don’t want to know’, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/19/depression-awareness-mental-illness-feel-like, the guardian, Guardian News and Media Limited (19 April 2016).

Implosion of self

Depression is actually much more complex, nuanced and dark than unhappiness – more like an implosion of self. In a serious state of depression, you become a sort of half-living ghost. (…) In depression you become, in your head, two-dimensional – like a drawing rather than a living, breathing creature. (…) But crucially, although near-apocalyptic from the inside, this transformation is barely perceptible to the observer – except for, perhaps, a certain withdrawnness, or increased anger and irritability. Viewed from the outside – the wall of skin and the windows of eyes – everything remains familiar. Inside, there is a dark storm. (…) Other negative emotions – self-pity, guilt, apathy, pessimism, narcissism – make it a deeply unattractive illness to be around, one that requires unusual levels of understanding and tolerance from family and friends. (…) There is a secret feeling most people enjoy that everything, at a fundamental level, is basically OK. Depressives suffer the withdrawal of that feeling, and it is frightening not only to experience but to witness.

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