You know that dream (or surreal horror trope) when you’re sort of trapped in your own body? It’s basically the way I’ve heard sleep paralysis described. You can see and hear things going on around you, and it feels like you should be able to interact with the world, but whenever you try to move your arm, or stand, or scream, nothing happens. You feel powerless, and it can be terrifying.
That’s what depression feels like.
The last few months, I’ve felt like a spectator in my life, stripped of my ability to take actions and interact with the world. I spend days at a time laying on the couch, thinking of all the things that would be nice to accomplish, and watching as I do none of them.
Sometimes I manage to break through and accomplish something, but often those times just makes things worse. In the moments I engage with my life, I make promises, appointments, commitments. Then, I get to sit back and watch as I don’t follow through, as people learn that they can not rely on me, and whatever faith my friends and family has in me dissolves. The hardest part is my own faith in me dwindling.
It really makes a person want to stop trying. I keep dissapointing myself, so it’s easier to just not even try to do stuff in the first place. Just lay back.
Obviously that isn’t the correct solution, but it’s one that’s very difficult to resist. The easiest approach to deal with your responsibilities when they feel overwhelming (and with depression, they always feel that way) is to pretend they don’t exist. Just apathetically turn your back to them. It’s not failure if you never tried.
It seems like I’m supposed to include that I need to remember the reasons why I want to do things, the passions and motivations and goals that convinced me to sign up for this or that in the first place. But depression’s apathy paints over everything. I’m not convinced that there is motivation to be remembered, it’s just gone.
The apathy makes some sense as a coping mechanism for the felt hopelessness. Failure and dissapointment hurts less if you’ve distanced yourself from it.