Can You Describe Depression? -A Question From a Friend

Then it dawned on me, this is depression. Or rather…one of the best analogies I could use to communicate it.

Someone once asked me to describe depression. It can be difficult to fully and  accurately describe an illness that silently affects someone in a variety of ways, but I did my best with an unlikely experience.


After she stuck that needle into the corners of my mouth, I couldn’t feel her yanking out all four of my wisdom teeth. It’s a bizarre experience being numb, fully awake with full mental awareness of your current surroundings but having no ability to experience it physically. 

I was 25 when I had gotten all 4 of my wisdom teeth taken out at one time and I was awake for all 4 pulls without going under anesthesia. I had never had any major hospital event or surgery requiring such a thing prior to that moment, so when Doc asked me the option of staying awake with numbing medicine or going under, I was thinking That’s a stupid question. Why the crap would I want to be mentally available of this level of orthodontic hell?

BUT after I realized that I didn’t pre-plan a ride for someone to pick me up if I went under AND that I preferred to not have socially damaging videos of me saying Lord knows what while being “high”, I thought Nope…she’s  actually the smart one. Drug me up, Doc!

Afterward, she advised me to take things slow as that numbness in my mouth wouldn’t pass over immediately. Yes, it prevented the pain but it also prevented just about everything else.

I touched my cheeks, but couldn’t feel the sensation of my fingers pressed against them. When I tried to eat, my jaw refused to cooperate so my food ended up in chunks on the floor. My attempt at drinking led to me giving myself an impromptu shower in the kitchen. My friend asked how I was, but my mouth and tongue slurred my words into an incoherent lazy gibberish.

Tired and frustrated at failing so hard to do what  I could normally do, I laid my head down wanting to feel normal again. Waiting for the numbness to pass…not knowing when or if it fully would.[i]

Then it dawned on me, this is depression. Or rather…one of the best analogies I could use to communicate it.

With all my might and intellect and willpower, I TRIED, but I couldn’t “try” myself out of the numbness.

Depression is a completely different ball game, as a person who has it I know that full well, but follow my logic for a second.

What makes them similar for me is that I tried so hard, but I couldn’t win. I TRIED. With all my might and intellect and willpower, I TRIED, but I couldn’t “try” myself out of the numbness.

I knew my body knew how to chew, talk and swallow, but it wouldn’t. Willing it to work, wasn’t enough. Wanting it to work, wasn’t enough. Getting irritated about wasn’t making it go away faster. Trying other avenues to not focus on the numbness made feel worse. Trying to force it, just caused me unneccessary clean up and stress. So, I waited.

I learned to do what I do now. I take care of myself to the best of my ability and ride it out. I do what I can and try to give myself anything I need that won’t damage me further.

I am well aware of my body’s capabilities when it is fully functional without depression or anxiety driving at the wheel. I know many of its triggers and its peak months. I’ve grown to become aware of myself. Because of that, in the past couple of years, I tried to knock in a few tricks that make the season somewhat more bearable for me.

If you’d like some tips that have helped me in my depression season, you’re free to peruse below. It comes back for sure, but I’m paying more attention to myself and do actively listen to my body in what it wants of me not so much I want of it. I hope it helps or if you have anything that you do, put it in the comments for others to get some ideas.

(NOTE: The tips below are not to be considered on equal par with an actual healthcare professional. These tips are only ideas that have thus far helped me, but please seek real assistance and advice from a trusted professional for anything and everything related to mental illness and suicidal ideations. Please call 911 if you are currently experiencing a serious episode. I can understand the struggle.)

Prior to anniversaries of major traumatic episodes (my mom’s death) or those of high sentimental value (my birthday, mother’s day, etc) when I normally have felt terrible around those days/months, I have tried to the best of my ability to plan in advance things that sometimes help me:

  • Have therapy far more frequently when the depression and anxiety season for me peaks. I give my therapist as a heads up to meet with me more frequently or that I may contact them more.
  • Actively prepare my home with art supplies, journals, new books, some movies or TV shows I love so I have something to mindlessly pass the time on the “existence is too much” days
  • Have pre prepped favorite foods in the freezer or easy food available (ramen has never betrayed me) that are little to no effort for me to prepare.
  • Let personal contacts know beforehand what season I’m in and communicate that I will not be answering phone calls or texts like used to (not that I like those things anyway), BUT I do enjoy when they check on me. Some of my friends send me an encouraging text knowing my season and put in their message “you don’t have to respond.”
  • Have planned days of “nothing.” It makes me feel less guilty sometimes when I “book an appointment” with myself that I can always look forward to. (Let’s be honest, I have ALOT of do nothing days besides the “planned” ones, but the Type A personality I have tries to work with that instead of against it)
  • Had items prepared for self care days when I happen to have a burst of positive energy and want to do something nice for myself (epsom salt for bath, money set aside for flowers or favorite restaurant for take out, hair care items for my jet black mane, etc
  • Put quotes or scriptures up in places I know I’ll see it that mattered to me when I either was in my depression state previously or that normally have meaning for me deeply.

Those are a few of my tips from learning the hard way and the best analogy I currently have in describing depression to people who do not understand it.

Let me know if you have any tips or if you think this might be helpful to someone else, feel free to share. Stay safe out there, friends.

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