What Depression Feels Like

Depression kills your soul while you are alive, walking, and thinking

Adam Furgang
Invisible Illness
Published in
4 min readAug 25, 2020


It comes on suddenly. Sometimes when you feel perfectly fine.

What is it?

It’s not sadness. It’s depression.

It can’t be easily discussed away. Despite what all the literature says, and what every book and pamphlet professes, no amount of reaching out to pretty much anyone has ever really helped me beyond just a speed bump’s worth of a momentary uptick in mood. And few people I tell actually truly understand.

What does depression feel like? It’s not sadness. It’s not like someone died. It’s not like crying for a sad film, or having someone break up with you. It’s also not like like any injury. And I’ve dislocated my shoulder over a dozen times so I know what horrible physical pain feels like.

Depression is far, far worse.

An order of magnitude worse.

Depression feels like something is sucking your soul away from you. It feels like an industrial strength vacuum is attached on your brain pulling out everything you care about and replacing it with a foul soot.

Depression removes care from your soul. I love art, films, books, games, photography, the mountains, and many other things. I also love writing, creating art, and building things, too. Depression removes it all and turns it into a discarded piece of useless plastic. You simply don’t care.

Depression takes the people you love and care a great deal about — a spouse, your children, parents, siblings, relatives, friends, loved ones, family, online social friends, acquaintances, people you see at the store — and turns them all into shapeless distant ghosts. People become like postage stamps or planes flying high overhead. Or like ants far below.

Depression kills your soul while you are alive, walking, and thinking. It turns your inner thoughts into about a dozen different useless disjointed frenetic miserable personalities, all living in your head, none of who will shut up. The desire to drown them out or silence them has had me do odd things, like chanting the Buddhist mantra: Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō, endlessly counting to very large numbers, listening to loud white noise on headphones while I try to sleep, or flicking a rubber band on my wrists, all in an effort to get some peace and quiet in the one place I’m incapable of escaping — my own head.

During depression, I’ve tried all sorts of things suggested by professionals, family, friends, and the internet. I’ve seen a therapist. Paying for someone to listen to me mostly always made me feel worse. If this society should work out one thing taxes should pay for, it’s depression, so anyone can go freely to therapists and chat. I’ve also chatted with friends, who in many ways are better than professionals because they want to chat with you. Free therapy online is almost nonexistent. I tried online chats a few times with zero results.

I’ve also tried fish oil, cold showers, meditation, exercise, running for miles, fasting, cutting carbs, salmon, alcohol, driving, and hiking. I’ve also watched the same film 100+ times, created antidepressant music playlists, stayed in bed all day, read self-help books, gardened, worked, created art, written stories, journaled, taken online depression questionnaires, tried self help cognitive behavior therapy, watched YouTube videos, wandered in the park, sat with my eyes closed for hours, stood in the sun shirtless in the winter, and many other wacky things I can’t even recall, all with little to no noticeable effect.

I’ve also tried antidepressants (Zoloft) for over a year. The side effects were odd. Jaw pan. Sexual dysfunction. Suicidal thoughts. Weight loss. Not exactly the cure one hopes for. I’ve also infrequently taken anti-anxiety meds, for when depression is hibernating, and it just mostly makes me sleepy. Similar to Benadryl.

So once you get depressed for the first time the likelihood it’ll return one day, if it passes, seems high. I’ve had long periods of deep depression followed by moderate lulls. I’ve also had my depression mostly fade to the point where I could barely recall having ever had it. Once it returns, though, there is no mistaking it. It's like a bad flu of the mind that arrives uninvited and you have zero clue when it might decide to leave.

Sleep is the only real respite from it, but the moments before sleep or just after waking are awful. I often remember my dreams, too, and generally, during depressive episodes, they are unpleasant. Staying in bed and not getting up for the day is also an odd side effect. Often getting up can make you feel a tad better but paradoxically getting out of bed is often near impossible.



Adam Furgang
Invisible Illness

Writer • Editor • Visual Artist • Gamer • Troublemaker