What the depressed mind sounds like

What does depression sound like?

“How do I feel? I feel alone. I feel stuck and trapped with no way out or any direction to take that will make it better. Although I know there are people around me I don’t feel I can call on any of them. They may understand but I just feel I am bothering them too much and one more time may scare them away and I will be completely on my own.”

My dog, Brie, finding a path forward on my farm in the Valley

My dog, Brie, finding a path forward on my farm in the Valley

That was me saying that. I wrote it in my daily journal about eight months ago. In the worst depression I have ever experienced, and I have had bouts of depression since I was in university, my mindset was dark – and almost closed.

While depression is a big topic, one of the largest gaps for those with depression and the people around them is how to communicate. We don’t know how to talk to one another. Although family and friends of someone with depression want to help, there can be a real loss as to understanding what the person with depression is thinking and why they say what they do.

I thought it might be interesting to get a glimpse into my mind when severely depressed to see what it sounds like. These quotes are directly from my journal and it saddens me now to read them but it is where I was at that time. And many others are there now or possibly facing it. Maybe it can help you understand where we are when we are in that dark place.

This is a personal battle for me on many fronts. My work has now been dedicated to better shaping the working environment for entrepreneurs to succeed personally and with their business. Why? Entrepreneurshave a much higher rate of depression than the general population. The relentless pressures and demands of building a business create incredible levels of stress that often, for entrepreneurs, turn into despair and depression.  As an entrepreneur, I know this life personally.

We found in our survey, The Mindset Project, that 16.7% of entrepreneurs have been diagnosed with depression, as compared to 8% for the general public. And further, while 68.4% of business owners report having periods of more than two weeks that affects their ability to function due to anxiety, stress, or depression, we found that 36.7% saw the need for help but didn’t seek it (for many reasons). So, I think the depression rate for entrepreneurs is actually much higher and we have to do something to stop this trend.

So, maybe hearing the voice of an entrepreneur who is in a depression might help.

In May of last year I actually wrote these words about myself, “I am crazy. It is just like they say – I am nuts. I can’t call on anyone but desperately need someone. But who would want to deal with this ball of crazy? Everyone is busy with their lives and I can’t bother them with my crap. So I am alone.”

One of the problems with depression is that you isolate. You need someone so badly but you hide away and make it worse. I think this is the single worst part of experiencing depression – the feeling that you are alone and there is no one. People are there but not available – you don’t want to bother them. And in my situation, my family and friends all wanted to be there for me but struggled with how to reach me.

And with isolation the thinking is turned inward. While anxiety is often expressed outwardly through frustration or anger with others, depression is turned inward. We criticize us and starting giving up.

“Is there anyone who can actually love me? With all of the baggage and damage that I bring can anyone possibly love me? Do I have to go away from here and try to start a life again in another way? I just don’t know where I am going to be if I stay here. Nothing is working and I just feel adrift on an iceberg that is breaking apart.”

When deep into the depression we don’t think straight. And often we think of getting away. Our minds ruminate on everything, chewing over what happened, what might happen, and what should happen with none of it being grounded in reality. The mental chatter is incredibly tiring. And you just want to shut it off.

“It feels like everyone has their own life and I am left behind. I am afraid of being rejected. I am ashamed of people knowing who I am. And I feel betrayed and not sure who I can trust and how can ever call on them. So, I am alone. Sitting here with my feelings and obsessions and crazy mental wanderings.”

We start judging what we think people think about us. We put thoughts into their minds without even asking. Sometimes people don’t know what to say and we take that as judgment or not caring. It just means they are struggling with a way to connect.

And sometimes the need to escape becomes really strong. I have gone to that place several times and did again last May.

“When I took the pills last night for the first time it just felt like it would be so easy to just take them all. Just put them all back and let it go. And then it would all stop. It would be quiet. I just didn’t have the courage. But I will next time.”

It is hard reading those words. The need to escape is so strong. In the deepest part of my depression, my smart strategic thinking was lost. I just didn’t think the same way. Everything was amped up and racing so I couldn’t get to the rational place that was me. And I constantly judged myself and came up lacking.

“I look outside and know I should be out doing something. But why should I? I just feel it is expected that I would be out and on the bike or hiking or something. I should! That is the refrain that is always on my mind and stuck inside my head. I should! I see people biking and people walking and people going places but here I am holed up inside and not feeling like I have the courage to do any of it. And if I got out would any of it actually help me.”

Yes, it would have helped me. The greatest connection you can make with someone in depression is to walk and talk with them. They will not call you or reach out but they so want to hear from you. You are not interrupting, you are helping. And you don’t need to have an answer or fix them or even understand it. You just need to ask questions, listen, and keep them moving. It matters!

“I just feel alone and trapped. Where do I go from here? Who do I go with? And how do I do that?”

The path for me over the next few months was really tough. But I did get through it. I had people around me who kept talking to me, getting me out on the bike, and just walking in nature. My therapist was incredible and helped me get my grounding.

I have learned how to use mindfulness to distract me from ruminating and meditate to calm my mind. My perspective is back and I see the world with hope.  But I know that dark part of me is there and I work every day to keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other. I reach out to people and, much to my amazement, they want my company.

Not everyone will think this way while going through a depression but I thought the words might help you talk to someone close to you. They need you.  The relationships we have with people who we can trust with our feelings are what makes life worth living.

Tyler Batten