Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Depression | What it feels like as told by gifs

1 in 4 people in Ireland will experience a mental illness at some point in their life. But everyone is affected by mental health. Whether it's having a rough day, the death of a relative, the end of a relationship, or the myriad of other knocks we get through life, feeling down is common. 

When I was younger I threw the term 'depressed' around a lot. Sure, I was sad so I must be depressed. In fact, I felt depressed. I never realised that there was a difference between the illness, depression, and feeling blue until I was diagnosed with depression.

It's hard to understand what a mental illness is like if you haven't gone through it yourself. I say the words 'hopelessness', 'numb', 'fatigue', and 'constant nausea' but even the most empathetic of people can struggle to relate.

Last week a few 12 year old kids I was supervising asked me about the book I was reading (Niall Breslin's 'Me and My Mate Jeffrey'). Despite giving countless talks about mental health and what it is like to have a mental illness, I struggled to convey in words what it felt like in terms they could understand. But, there's nothing like the power of a good old fashioned image to help when it comes to relating. And lately I've come across a number of .gifs that really hit home what it mental illness feels like to me on my worst days.

Here's what it's like to experience Depression as told through .gifs:

Life knocks everyone down from time to time. 
But those who are susceptible to depression find it harder to pick themselves back up.


You see, it can feel like nothing goes your way:

And you feel like you are falling apart:


But worse still, you feel yourself falling into darkness.
It's a deep pit of negativity, where you cannot find any positives:

You struggle to get out of bed:

And the time you spend in bed isn't healthy either:

There's a felt stigma so you lie.
You utter unconvincingly when you're asked 'Are you okay?':

And fake a smile:

Because it feels like everyone and everything is out to get you:

It feels impossible to face another day of work or school 
because you know you'll make a show of yourself:


Because everyone else seems to be getting on with their lives when you can't even feel:

When you first see daylight after spending a week taking 'a mental health day' it feels like an assault:

This is your mantra, but it rarely works out that way:

Because it's hard to find the positive in any situation:

And every time someone offers you 'helpful' advice it feels like an attack:

But despite what you tell yourself, there is light at the end of the tunnel:

And things can and do get better.
 I'm living proof of that, and I believe in you:




45 comments:

  1. What a brilliant post! That is a fantastic visual way of explaning depression. Brilliant!

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  2. What a brilliant post! That is a fantastic visual way of explaning depression. Brilliant!

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  3. Hey Zoe, I sort of stumbled across your blog and it really inspires me how openly honest you are about mental health and also how crap life can be sometimes. I feel most blogs only tell the happy side of the story but actually there are lots of different emotions in life that one experiences on a daily basis. I do have a question a couple of questions about depression though, because they are some days that I feel like that, I'm a girl so I have ups and downs and I have day that I feel meh and days that I am bursting with happiness but I would never call myself depressed and I am thankful everyday for what I have. If people described me they would say I am bubbly and happy which is true but I do get my down days too but doesn't everyone? My boyfriend, on the other hand, throws around the word depression a lot! He says I'm depressed or have been diagnosed with depression (and apparently was described anti-depressants) way before I ever met him, but he definitely does not show any of the signs that you mention. He doesn't stay in bed, he doesn't really worry about anything except when I am travelling abroad with work. He adores his cars so when he gets bored he goes out driving or looks at car forums or calls his friends to go out driving. From my eyes, he is not depressed but then how can I say that he isn't when I don't know what's going on in his mind? If he is depressed surely he should understand that a girl sometimes has down days but he can never really grasp the concept, but surely if you are depressed you get these days too? He says he can't feel excitement, but he gets excited about cars! He has ambitious, he is funny, he is caring and endearing and part of me just isn't convinced he is "depressed" and it annoys me that he throws that word around so much! What do you think? xoxo

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    1. Hey Charlotte,
      Thanks for all of your kind words about my blog! It really does mean a lot.

      One thing I've learned over the years is that you NEVER know who is struggling with mental illness. I've known the most bubbly and outwardly positive happy people to be fighting an inward battle every day. As you said, you really don't know someone else's mind so we can never know. All I can say to you is not to be deceived by outward perceptions. Some people can fake a smile and happiness more convincingly than someone who won the lotto!
      I am just the type of person who can't hide their emotions in the slightest.
      And the symptoms and signs of depression differ for everyone as well. I wrote this post back in January on the other side of depression that might be of help to you - http://www.ibelieveinromeo.com/2015/01/im-not-sad-all-time.html

      I'm sorry that he isn't more supportive to you on your down days, it might be something worth bringing up and trying to discuss with him? Relationships are about trust and support, and hopefully you can both help each other xx

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  4. This post is brilliant! And so true. I struggle with depression and these gifs just sum it so well! Amazingly done. I am SO glad I read this post today. xx

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    1. Aww thank you Sarah, and I'm so happy that you liked it x

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  5. What an eye opening post. I have never been able to explain any of my mental health problems including depression. The animations make it a lot easier to understand, a little less overwhelming for someone who doesn't understanding and relieving for someone like myself who struggles to put it into words xx

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    1. Shareen, thank you so much for your comment. You've described exactly what I wanted to achieve with this post :)

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  6. I think the worst part of depression that you didn't include a gif of is when someone (or yourself) asks why you feel the way you do and you HONESTLY don't know. You realise that you're completely safe, and you're in the exact same situation as yesterday (when you felt fine) and nothing's wrong but everything is wrong.

    However, I completely agree with the fact that those not affected by depression just don't seem to understand it regardless of how hard they try. And why would they? I don't think we understand it ourselves... All we know is how helpless we feel.

    Laura | www.likecubed.co.uk

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    1. Oh you're definitely right, that would have been a great one to include. Honestly though, there were lots of things I wanted to include, but just couldn't find the right image to convey it! x

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  7. Such a great post lovely. A really interesting way to explain depression to others. Fab x

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  8. A great post, a really good way of explaining it properly! Sometimes I find quotes and things really hit the nail on head of how I'm feeling! x

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    1. Thanks Kerry. I feel the same with quotes! I keep all of my favourites in a little book x

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  9. This is such a brilliant post and a fab way of explaining it. I went through a bout of depression brought on by grief while at Uni and my housemates just couldn't understand why I couldn't leave my bed or room. It was so hard to explain to them how I was feeling.

    C x | Lux Life

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    1. Thanks Catherine. It can be so difficult to explain and then that difficulty can stop people from seeking help too. It's a vicious cycle x

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  10. This is absolutely fantastic, for you to be able to demonstrate this in a way that is understandable not only to 12 year olds but to anyone who hasn’t quite got a grasp of what depression and mental illness actually means and is. Brilliant work x

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  11. A really great post. I loved how you explained it and think so many people will relate. I suffered and I suppose still do sometimes from PND. I am much better than I was but I like you can now see the difference between feeling sad and blue, being down and then feeling depressed. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you! It really can be difficult for people to understand the difference so hopefully this helps x

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  12. This is a brilliant post! I wasn't sure what to expect as sometimes posts about mental health can be hard to read, but this was one of the best communciations I've seen on it. Who would have thought gifs could portray such real feelings? Well done xx

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    1. Oh thank you Nicci! I'm so glad to see you liked it. Haha, and I know. The power of images is truly amazing :P x

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  13. I think you have caught the nature of mental health issues and depression perfectly with these GIF's. I think it's a great way to help people understand, especially young people who might not understand what is happening to them

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  14. Gosh. This is an excellent way of putting it. Simple, yet very effective.
    As someone who has never suffered with depression, but who knows plenty who have, this is really useful to read. Great post.
    Anna x

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    1. Thank you Anna, I'm so glad you found it helpful. x

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  15. Mental health is an issue that the government needs to do more to raise awareness of. When you tell someone that your depressed they tell you to have faith or that you are fine when they have no idea what you are feeling. Depression is self-consuming and no preacher can say that it is all in your head because the evidence is clear in the destruction of health and physical activity.

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    1. You're definitely right Ana. I think we're making great positive strides in Ireland on the issue, and it's becoming much more a part of normal conversations. But it remains a critically underfunded area.

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  16. Such a unique way of putting it. I know many people very lose to me suffering with mental health and still enough is not done about it to take away the stigma

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    1. Thank you Rachel. I definitely agree. It's such a common illness, and yet we still won't talk about it? But there are great charities here working to tackle and break down the stigma.

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  17. A very powerful post, thank you for sharing. I can relate to a few of the gifs as I have experienced depression in the past.

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    1. I'm glad people have found the gifs relateable! I had a panic moment before I hit 'publish' in case it was only me :P x

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  18. Ah Zoe, this was so cleverly put together. I think I will be referring my cousins to this when they're older and I start to try and explain and help them understand. I think you're great for being so open about your journey, you're definitely opening minds up for everyone that reads your blog. And I am so lucky to have gotten the pleasure to get to know you xx

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    1. Aww Catherine, thank you! Your comment is incredibly sweet, and I really appreciate all of your support :) x

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  19. such a great post! there needs to be more blogs about depression. I love all the gifs, and they definitely show what depression feels like.

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    1. Thank you Jessica, I'm glad you thought it was accurate! I was a bit worried it might have been just me :P x

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  20. This post describes exactly how it feels to have a depression and live in society...
    It's awful... I have depression and anxiety it's beyond a torment to life every single day... I admire your strength! As you say... Stay strong! Because I will too :)

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    1. Yay Anna! I'm so glad you ended your comment with that mantra :) It's always a difficult thing to remember in the bad days, but oh so vital, because there is always a way out xx

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  21. Zoe, this is just brilliant, it really is, well done.
    Nicola xx

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    1. Thank you Nicola. I'm a bit overwhelmed by the positive response *gushing*

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  22. I can relate to the not wanting to out of bed, not showering, not caring about yourself, not interested in anything and not finding anything funny.It's a really long journey to walk, but I got there in the end.Much love to you x

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    1. Thank you Aly. There are definitely some 'symptoms' or responses to depression that a lot of people share. I'm so happy you got there in the end. The journey can be tough, but the destination makes it worthwhile x

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