We asked the BuzzFeed Community to describe what depression looks like to them. Here are some of their illustrated words.
A Two-Sided World
For me depression used to feel like a two-sided world. A world with a light side full of sunlight, flowers, grass, and a bright blue sky. And a dark side with barren, cracked land, dark gloomy skies, thick air that was hard to breathe in, and nothingness. I would sit in the dark side of the world watching the light side wondering how I would ever end up there, if I could ever end up there. It took me seven years to realize that I just had to get up and move, one step at a time. —Iris Sullivan
A China Shop
My depression is rooted in anxiety. It's like being in a shop full of breakable china and trying to maneuver through the crowded aisles without touching anything. Because once you run into one thing, all the china in the shop comes crashing down, breaking into a million pieces. That's what it's like trying to avoid the thoughts and situations that cause my anxiety and depression. Because once one horrible thought finds me, the rest follow in an overwhelming crush. —mmHg7356
A Heavy Coat
I've suffered with depression for years. To me it's like being told you have to wear a heavy suit (like a suit of armor) that weighs maybe 100 pounds. At first you are so conscious of the weight. Everything feels difficult: standing, walking, sitting. Doing daily chores becomes exhausting and impossible. But it's like everything. After you've worn the suit for a while you acclimatize to it. It's still hard work, but you're so used to it being hard work that there are times you almost forget that you're wearing it, because it's your life now. It feels normal for things to be as hard as they are. Then, briefly, you get to take the damn thing off. Just not for long. Then when you put it back on, you have to go through the whole soul-destroying process of acclimatizing to it all over again. —Rachael Darbishire
A Swarm of Bees
The thought of "just kill yourself" starts to repeat in your head, over and over. It feels like a swarm of bees armed with thousands of tiny stingers surrounding your head and infecting your brain. Piercing every part of it, inescapable. You can't see past the cloud. —Anonymous
It's like someone dropped you off at the train station and tells you they are coming back in just a few minutes and you end up waiting there for hours. You don't know how to get back to where you were without that person. People keep asking you if you are OK and if you are lost and you just don't know. They want to help but even you don't know why you are freaking out. You've been here before, it's just the plain old station, but now things are different. You have that ticket and you can just get on and leave but you're too scared. You start hearing all these voices in your head telling you that you can't do it on your own. You're going to get lost. You'll miss your stop. What is wrong with you? You're not brave enough. —Sachiko Papa
For me it always felt as though I had a black shadow-person following me around and stopping me from doing things. Lying on top of me in bed and making it hard to get up, refusing to let go of my wrists and shoulders as I walked around (forcing me to drag it behind me), putting its hands over my eyes so that I couldn't see all the beautiful things in life, putting its hands around my throat and making it hard to breathe. I felt as though the black shadow-person just kept getting more dense and powerful and dominating with each day, and likewise I felt as though every day I would grow more faint and weak and translucent. Eventually I barely existed anymore. When I finally found therapy that worked, it felt like a process of coloring myself back in, painting all the parts that had become faded so that they were bright again. —Danielle Hardgrove
In a Hole
My depression feels like I have fallen into a dark, deep hole. I keep trying to climb out but lose my footing each time. I can see the sun above me and the grass but can't get to it. Then I finally always make it out. With a few scrapes and scars to remember the experience by. But the scars also remind me that the next time I fall in that hole, I will get out. —Larissa Smith
I understand depression as standing on stage in a stadium filled with people who are yelling and throwing things at me. They're saying I'm worthless and ugly and a complete failure — I know empirically that what they're saying isn't true, but my microphone doesn't work. The speakers aren't plugged in. I can't always shout over them with my natural voice. In the end I end up hoarse and they're still yelling. —Anonymous
It feels like your face is smiling in public but you're wondering how are you even doing it when you know you don't mean it. How do you listen to everyone else's stories about their day/weekend when you just want to say "Could you handle a day in my life?" I visualize a mask worn every day with a happy nodding face but underneath a different story. —Anonymous
The Second Self
I visualize my depression as a second version of myself, basically my shadow but sentient, following me around everywhere, shouting at me about why I'm terrible. That I'm doing something wrong or not doing anything or for the right reasons. He also points out different things nearby and suggests ways to kill me with them, but he has to go back into shadow form when others are around, simply whispering everything instead of shouting. —Daniel Spencer
To learn more about depression and anxiety, check out the resources at the National Institute of Mental Health here and here.
If you are dealing with thoughts of suicide, you can speak to someone immediately here or by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.