Depression And Emptiness: My Story

Living With Depression

depressionI am very open about having depression. I have spoken in seminars, written papers and poems, shared my struggles with others, but I tend to only divulge when invited to. Because despite the fact that I have come to accept this depression as part of me, other people, even those closest to me, do not and will not understand. I do not like being depressed. Obviously.  If I could choose not to be, I would. But, seeing as it is not going away anytime soon, my only course of action is to learn how to live with it.

During the first year after my formal diagnosis, I was living on campus with my best friend from high school. Unlike anyone else I know, we remain best friends even after having lived together for three years. She is fabulous. With her I have found the most balanced relationship I have ever had—I get as much as I give, and for a tender-heated people-pleaser like me, that is rare. But once, having an off day and feeling really down, I must have said something to betray my mood, and this best friend of mine got truly angry with me. “Just stop being so negative,” she said, exasperated. “Just stop fixating on the bad side of everything and be happy.” Just be happy. Revolutionary. If it were that easy, I would not have had depression in the first place.

The Emptiness Is The Worse

What many people don’t realize is that one of the worst parts of depression, worse than the bitterness, the moodiness and the weepies, is the emptiness.  The numbness that spreads through your bones until you realize you have been slouched on the edge of your bed, ready to stand up, for the better part of an hour. It is this emptiness that hollows every laugh, freezes smiling eyes, slumps shoulders down and lines the soles of your shoes with lead.

depression
The emptiness is the worse

It is this emptiness that sets the body to stone until every breath works its way out past jutting crags, halved by the time it escapes your lips. It is this emptiness that strikes at those you love most, strikes and strikes again and sees their pain but feels no compulsion to stop causing it and just does not care. That emptiness just really sucks.

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Sometimes, sitting on the couch next to my fiancé, I feel like I am wrapped in plastic and encased in a glass fish bowl. He is right there next to me, but every sensation is deadened, delayed as if by water and I could not reach him if I tried. Even if I were to physically touch him, that thing would still be there separating us. I am told this feeling is common but that hardly dismisses it. In fact, one of the only thing that placate me is the knowledge that there is something physically wrong with my brain.

It Is In The Brain

That seems backwards, does it not? But when I am wrapped in plastic and drowning in a fishbowl, the last thing I want to hear is “stop being so negative” and “choose to be happy.” Nothing will shatter that glass and let me feel again. So the knowledge that it is not my fault, that it is in my brain and completely out of my control, is comforting. I do not have to change myself—I can not. It is not a craving or a choice, it is a condition, it is my condition, and it is my life, and I can learn to live it.

There are visible and measurable differences between a healthy brain and one that is depressed. Hormone levels may be different—like too much cortisol, the stress hormone, or too little serotonin, the happy hormone—or the sizes of things might be “off.” The hypothalamus, which processes long-term memories, is noticeably smaller in some people with depression. The amaygdala, which deals in emotions like anger and fear, works overtime in depressed brains. Neurotransmitters may not provide adequate responses to stimuli or may overreact. These are biological and chemical reactions. They have nothing to do with choosing or committing to being happy, so the pressure’s off. I do not have to be happy; I do not expect anyone or anything to fill that emptiness inside me, because that emptiness is not imagined, it is real.

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Pushing Through The Fog

I just put my head down and push through the fog and come out the other side grinning, even if only for a little while. I just treat myself with the same gentle kindness I grant others. I sleep when I am not tired, eat when I am not hungry, shower when I do not care, get dressed and get out and go to classes and work and do what I do every other day and I am freed from the constant wondering: does this make me happy? Do I really want to do this anymore?

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Living despite the fog

For some of us, happiness is not a reasonable expectation for ourselves, and that is okay. If it is my mood I can not control it. My actions are the thing I can.

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Another most intimate and vulnerable piece from one of our Contributors! Katelyn Roth concludes this series on Emptiness that we began in response to a reader’s request. Check out the other articles in this series: Empty: It That How You Feel?, My Baby Died: How Do I Go On?, Filling The Dad-Sized Hole In Your Life and Emptiness: A Sign of Emotional Trauma.

blog contributor
Katelyn Roth

Katelyn lives in Pittsburgh, KS., where she is pursuing her Masters in Poetry and is also teaching freshman composition classes.  She writes on a variety of topics relating to women empowerment, psychology, healthy relationships and anything that supports the mental health of women. Her recent posts were on “Food Banks: Help Up or Hand Out?” and  “Dog, Not Diamond Is Her Best Friend.”

Subscribe and receive updates of Katelyn’s future posts as well as those of our other Contributors. We respect and protect your privacy so you will receive one email daily from us, as well as my monthly newsletter, KB Life, that includes an affirmation poster. An added bonus of membership is that, for a limited time, you will also get my E-books for FREE. Sign up today and enjoy these and future benefits that only subscribers receive!

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58 thoughts on “Depression And Emptiness: My Story

  1. […] Our beautifully defiant Katelyn Roth lives in Pittsburgh, KS.  She writes on a variety of topics relating to women empowerment, psychology, healthy relationships and anything that supports the mental health of women. Her recent post was the last in our series on Emptiness – “Depression And Emptiness: My Story.” […]

  2. Wow, I needed this today, will need it tomorrow and the day after….

    1. Ms Claudette

      Oh sweetheart – I am both glad to hear that this post came at the right time and concerned that you are “going through.” Please know that I am always good for a chat! Namaste.

  3. Eileen xo

    Depression is unfortunately very common and under discussed. This is beautifully written and helps people to realize the struggle of someone diagnosed with depression.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Thanks for sharing your perspective which is very, very valid. Also thanks for visiting. 🙂

  4. Interesting post! Depression is the worst disease! So many people suffer in silence!

    1. Ms Claudette

      350,000,000 people worldwide are experiencing depression! Thank you for visiting and helping us to help even one. Namaste

  5. Rosey

    It’s so kind that you are sharing your insight here. I know it is truly going to be a help for others, and I hope a nice outlet for you as well. And hurrah for good friends, I’m glad you had one for so long. True good friends are hard to come by.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Hurrah for good friends indeed! 🙂

  6. Depression is a subject that people don’t talk much about. People need to be more informed about it because there is usual misconception about it. Thank you for sharing your battle- story- it is enlightening and it’s given me a broader understanding of depression.

  7. Depression is something that should be taken seriously at all times. I am so glad the conversation is being started here.

    1. Ms Claudette

      We are helping to continue it and make it even more open! Thank you for joining in Chanelle! 🙂

  8. It is a great thing to seek out help for your depression. Too many people get so powerless and help less that they can’t even think about a way out.

    1. Ms Claudette

      You are so right Beth, so right! 🙂

  9. Katelyn

    Thanks to everyone for their positive feedback! As hard as it is to suffer from depression, it’s also so hard to love someone who is suffering, so I often write in the hopes that it will help caregivers understand their loved ones. It’s so nice to write for such an encouraging and compassionate readership!

    1. Ms Claudette

      And thank you Katelyn for sharing and for coming back to say thanks. Love you girl! 🙂

  10. Great post. I have battled depression since my mid 20’s. Some days are very dark but I always focus on my children. Taking care of myself through diet and exercise helps but it is a constant struggle.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Yes, it is a constant struggle as Katelyn so beautifully wrote here. I am standing in the gap for you that more of your days will be filled with inner peace and comfort. Namaste.

  11. dealing with struggle is quite challenging…but there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Never lose hope!

    1. Ms Claudette

      I am sure Katelyn remains hopeful but thank you so much for the encouragement and visit. 🙂

  12. Great post, and a topic that needs more and more awareness. I really appreciate your fishbowl and plastic analogy. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Ms Claudette

      You are most welcome Angie! We are doing our best to help raise awareness on this and many other topics! 🙂

  13. I think life happens for a reason, this s awful story and I think the only way to recover in that situation is to do more writing .

  14. dltolley

    Love this Claudette! Especially this: ‘If it is my mood I can not control it. My actions are the thing I can.’
    So positive!

    1. Ms Claudette

      I am sure that Katelyn is as grateful as I am for your kind comment! Thanks Diane! 🙂

  15. Depression is so hard for people to understand if they have never been threw it. This is such a great post to help others realize what it is like to live with depression.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Thanks for saying that about our post Ann and yes, many people have no clue how to understand someone who is experiencing depression.

  16. Claudette ….I can only imagine…but praying that you can overcome this soon

    1. Ms Claudette

      This is not my story!!! Yes, I have been challenged by depression in the past and I am not ashamed of it. Just want the authorship of the post appreciated for the work she is doing. Thank you.

  17. Depression…emptiness, what sadness! This post shows the range of emotions one goes thru and I cannot imagine hoe people feel when faced with a friend, family member with depression. So sad to read, yet important to expose so we can see the signs and help out each othehr so they dont sink deeper!

    1. Ms Claudette

      That is why we do what we do here – not for money but to have conversations about the tough, real emotional and other issues. Thank you for joining the conversation. 🙂

  18. This is a honest and direct perspective on depression. I’m so grateful not to have suffered these symptoms, but feel a sympathetic appreciation for people battling this. Thank you for sharing…the more we “talk” about it, the better awareness!

    1. Ms Claudette

      Thank you for reading and supporting our decision to talk about a topic that some prefer not to. 🙂

  19. Don’t hide our feeling, be open and discuss any depression signs with friends and family or doctor. I think so many of us go through this phase. Thanks for sharing this story

    1. Ms Claudette

      You are most welcome and thanks for you suggestions and visit! 🙂

  20. victoria

    Lot of us was being in the process of depression but after that we feel better and strong person

    1. Ms Claudette

      Indeed we do – I am one. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  21. wow this was an incredible post to read. i have had two close friends who have depression and reading things like this helps me remember that i need to apply even more kindness and patience in those friendships to help make sure i am not making things worse

    1. Ms Claudette

      Then we have done our job with this post! Thanks for sharing that insight. 🙂

  22. Elizabeth O.

    People think depression is simple and easy to cure. They are not aware of the things depressed people go through. Some would often take advantage of it and even claim they are depressed when they’re sad. Thanks for sharing your story, you are very admirable.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Yes, it was wonderful of Katelyn to share this story, especially for those people who as you say think depression is simple as well as those who take advantage of an experience they really do not want. Thanks again for stopping by! 🙂

  23. The description of what it feels like is really powerful. I can’t imagine being so numb. That’s debilitating for sure.

    1. Ms Claudette

      And you really do not want to imagine it! It is truly an empty feeling! Have a wonderful week Liz! 🙂

  24. laure

    thank you for sharing your story with us. i never had despresion and i hope that i will never have

    1. Ms Claudette

      This was Katelyn’s story, one that I fully understand as well. You are most welcome and thank you for visiting! 🙂

  25. Unless you have walked a mile in someone’s shoes then you can’t really know. Persons who have never suffered in this area sometimes then to dismiss those who do. I cannot know because I have not been there so I have to take their word for it…

    1. Ms Claudette

      Yes, you never really know until you experience it yourself. And there are some things you really do not want to experience. Thanks for stopping by again! 🙂

      1. Some persons need to experience it so they can shut up…LOL…am I being bad?

  26. What great insight! Thank you so much for talking about this. The more we talk about it; the less power it has <3

    1. Ms Claudette

      It is one of those issues that some would prefer we not speak of – and while I agree that simply talking about it doesn’t provide a “cure” so to speak, raising awareness just might lead someone to help. Thanks for dropping by! 🙂

  27. Its so true feeling depressed is like being swallowed by a black hole, you feel empty but many stigmatize depression when it affects so many people worldwide who are not given the help that they need.

    1. Ms Claudette

      You are correct, many or maybe it is more accurate to say most people do not get the help that is needed to get through and even grow through this experience. So many worldwide are affected. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this! 🙂

  28. I think a lot of us go through with this. It may just be mild that we don’t regard it as depression.

    1. Ms Claudette

      I think you are right – that was my (Claudette) case until it blew out of proportion later in life. Thanks for dropping by! 🙂

  29. Thank you for sharing your story! I think a lot of people are going through this and reading your story will help them. I think people who have no idea about depression often think people can just “cheer up” but it’s not that easy and your post sheds light on that.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Thank you for visiting Kari! I am sure that Katelyn, the author of the post, will see your feedback and be grateful that you think her opening up like this will be helpful to at least one. Namaste. 🙂

  30. Robin Rue (@massholemommy)

    How awful to feel like this all the time. I can’t even imagine.

    1. Ms Claudette

      It is indeed not the most comfortable or pleasant feeling. And no, I don’t think you want to imagine it but it is a reality that 350M people live with daily. Thanks for dropping by. 🙂

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