One of the exercises I did while I was in therapy was creating a collage of images that describe how I feel while I am depressed.
A. The witch image depicts how I feel completely rotten inside. Not only feeling “not good enough,” but also that there is fundamentally something wrong with me. Down to my core I am horrible, undeserving of love, and worthless.
B. The woman with her hands covering her face describes how I feel utterly powerless. I feel like I can’t do anything to make things better. I feel consumed by sadness and self-hatred.
C. The pink balloon reminds me how lost I feel. I feel detached from everyone and everything. They remind me of Mickey Mouse ears and the idea that we should seek unbridled joy, but all I feel is boundless heartache.
D. The rodent with the leash and collar describe how I feel chained to my responsibilities and obligations. I feel burdened by having to take care of other people, and then guilty that I see it as a burden. There’s this sense that I should feel only gratitude for what’s in my life.
E. The Nyquil depicts my desire to end my pain and suffering by overdosing. When I feel deeply depressed, I just want to end it all and sleep forever.
F. The question mark is another illustration of how lost I feel. I don’t know who I am, why I’m here, or what the point of my life is.
It shames me to admit that I’ve ever had these feelings and that I still have them. I had to take a break from writing this because I was crying so hard. The difference though between who I was when I made this collage and who I am today is that I know that these images do not reflect the real me.
- I am not perfect, but there is good in me
- I can’t fix everything, but I am strong and powerful, especially in my willingness to ask for help
- I belong to multiple loving, supportive communities in which I am deeply connected and appreciated
- I do have responsibilities, but I am able to set healthy boundaries, and I don’t have to do everything myself
- Life is painful sometimes but I am never alone in my suffering; I have many friends to lean on who lift me up
- I still don’t know why I’m here, but I know that I have value, and I contribute to the people in my life every day; my life and theirs is richer for it
It’s tempting to hide this side of me, to show only my cheerful persona, but that would be a disservice to all the people who are still suffering and feel all alone. Depression is a part of my life, but it does not define me. It doesn’t have to define yours either.
If you or someone you know is depressed, please check out the links on the “Where to Get Help” page.
What images describe your experience of depression?