26 Things Depression Feels Like According To My Diary

I should preface this by saying I’m totally fine right now, but I found this list I’d made in a notebook and I read it to my executive editor and she said yes, let’s publish it on the internet, and I said, okay. Maybe it’s a poem or a list/poem.

1. A slow-motion chase scene in a dark comedy

2. A monster underneath the bed, except in your bed

3. Like a magnet

4. Like a sweater

5. Like tap-dancing on a trap door

6. “My arms are sad”

7. Lying in bed staring at the wall with an empty facial expression

8. Lying in bed staring at the wall

9. Lying in bed

10. Staring at the wall

11. A sad girl in a black sack dress

12. A mattress underneath a rock

13. Cuddling with a knife

14. The song “Hurt”

15. Jeff Buckley

16. A magnet in a wind-tunnel

17. Everyone else is outside walking around saying “it’s such a beautiful day!”

18. “I don’t need anything” because you don’t want anything

19. Land mines but also quicksand

20. A best friend who treats you like shit but will also never leave you

21. Not getting the memo

22. Being stalked by a lump of coal

23. Like being awake is sleeping and being asleep is living

24. Like being awake is lying

25. Like drowning in the middle of a party

26. Like a big sad magnet

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3225 articles for us.


  1. 22, 23 and 24. Uf. Exactly. Thank you, Riese, from one formerly-very-unfine-but-now-mostly-fine person to another.

  2. “7. Lying in bed staring at the wall with an empty facial expression

    8. Lying in bed staring at the wall

    9. Lying in bed

    10. Staring at the wall”

    So much yes this! Well, not yes, but this post made me happy in a weird way even though it made me think depression cause depression is lonely but knowing that someone else feels exactly the same feels less lonely and therefore less depressing.

  3. I want to see a comic of the gray Zoloft lump being stalked by a lump of coal. I’m definitely feeling that one.

  4. You knocked it outta the park on this one. I understood every one of those feelings. Thank the medical field for my Cymbalta! Be well!

  5. “7. Lying in bed staring at the wall with an empty facial expression
    8. Lying in bed staring at the wall
    9. Lying in bed
    10. Staring at the wall
    23. Like being awake is sleeping and being asleep is living
    24. Like being awake is lying”

    It’s like you want to preach these words that Riese has written!

    This post has really sparked my feelings from when my wife and I had this HUUUUGE problem (read: we separated for a while) in which I took it especially hard and this post reminded me of some of the feelings I had =p

    Feeling like you are the wall.

    Feeling like your skin and clothes are the the same as your bed sheets.

    Not eating because your stomach has a tiny man that pulls the rope to make it magically tiny.

    Only love songs playing on the radio.

    “Each place I hide only reminds me of you” ♫♪♫♫♪

    Unable to watch happy scenes on TV

    Getting the urge to clean ALL THE THINGS.

    When it hurts to smile.

    Droopy shoulders

    • Yup, 7-10 and 23-24 was my list of ‘oh god it’s like Riese knows my life right now.’ Also “Feeling like your skin and clothes are the the same as your bed sheets” is so true. I’m hoping that finally taking a shower and doing laundry will make that less of a thing, at least for a little while.

      I don’t know exactly what it feels like but I know that I can’t stop reading and absorbing material (oh hey autostraddle, slate, nytimes, so much bad tv, etc.) but not saying anything of my own, and I’m avoiding any and all activities that can’t be done with some kind of distraction (shower, dishes, etc) because heaven forbid I be alone with my thoughts for more than 0.02 seconds.

      Thanks for giving me a place to put all these feels. I think I’ll listen to some Jeff Buckley now.

      • I know that feeling…when you dont trust yourself enough to be alone with your thoughts. I remember being very vulnerable at night a lot. I would be awake at 2am facebooking the shit out of my phone.

        Whatever it is youre going through..be strong. Hugs=]

  6. oh, hell. so many of these are right spot on. like 19.

    and, oh, with 17, then those people turn around & go, “it’s SUCH a nice DAY, just BE HAPPY & GET OVER YOURSELF! you must WANT to be MISERABLE! and NO ONE will LOVE YOU if you don’t LOVE YOURSELF!!1 and EVERYONE gets sad SOMETIMES! JUST BE HAPPY! YOU TAKE EVERYTHING TOO PERSONALLY! this is MY OPINION on YOUR THOUGHTS/FEELINGS/EXPERIENCES & you should LISTEN TO MY OPINION!!!!!!!!!”

    and then you’re just like, okay, i have literally three people in the world i can talk to who won’t treat me like this; i guess it doesn’t matter that i’m drowning to practically anyone &


    sorry for my feelings-vomit here.

  7. When I went through a depression, it felt like everyone else was secretly laughing at me, but I couldn’t find it in me to care.

    That was so terrible. I’m glad there was an other side to that depression, and that I got there :)

  8. I’m a little bit scared of how much this resonates with me right now. Especially 17 and the all lying in bed thing.

  9. 6, 13, 19, 20. Doing pretty okay these days, too, but I remember the stuff that was in my old journals. I’m starting to admit that depression/anxiety is a thing that is always going to be a part of my life to be dealt with, that I’m never going to be “cured” – I’m starting to be okay with that.

    Which is to say that thinking about past depression while not currently depressed is something I feel.

  10. 1, 6, 7, 9, 10, 17, 18, 20, 23, 24. These resonated with me. This list becomes poetry. Keep writing, you have insightful thoughts. Thank you

  11. Yes. Just so much yes. Thanks for posting this. I hate hate hate when people try to tell you that you can just wish yourself into being better. Cuz that’s realistic :/

  12. Right now my depression feels like a heavy, metal vice or cage that’s tightening and putting dull, achy pressure on my heart, chest, and back.

    I appreciated this list. Thanks, Riese.

  13. Especially 23, but along the lines of staring, staring right through the people you know you love (but can’t feel it at the time) while they are trying to help, but neither of you know how they can… combined with this “why can’t you just stop talking and leave me alone” thing…

  14. I am depressed at the moment, and it definitely feels like my heart is full and I will cry or get irritated without reason at stuff that normally would not get any rise or deal out of me at all. Sometimes with the people in my life that I love I feel as though the amount of love I do carry for them is not expressed as transparently as I’d like. Today I am having an angry day, but underneath that is thin ice cracking with feeling naked and vulnerable, and sad.
    I remember painting a self portrait of myself in highschool art and it was a close up of my unsmiling fearing facial expression with lots of grey oppressive cloud over my head. I decided I hated this version of me so I threw it in the trash. These days, I guess I sing to let the feelings out, or listen to Leonard Cohen, Holly Miranda, Kaki King and other healing stuff. Also comedy on youtube and other websites. Comedy puts life into bite size perspective for me and stops me from being a bitch. The feelings are there and they take time to feel and get perspective on.

  15. #23 for me. Definitely.

    I’d also like to add “listening to the same song on the way to work, all day at work, on the drive home, before sleep. Repeat again for a week.”

  16. I really appreciate this, would add

    Feeling like something is missing/you’re not fully alive/part of you died but you kept on living.
    Going through the motions.
    Not wanting to have sex even though not having sex makes you sad.

    • Feeling like something is missing/you’re not fully alive/part of you died but you kept on living.

      agh, yes. that articulates how i feel in so much less words than i’ve ever tried.

  17. some of these also describe how I feel at the gym…I’ll have to reconsider that …

    5. Like tap-dancing on a trap door

    6. “My arms are sad”

  18. I read posts about depression on this site a lot. I have a large number of friends with clinical depression and often feel like there isn’t much I can do to help them…somehow I got lucky and don’t have it, but what can I do to help? I try to just be there when they need me and listen to them a lot, we hang out a lot but I feel like it’s a sickness that I can’t do much else about except be there because I don’t know what it’s like to have it.

  19. I remember one particularly manic moment where I was pacing around the streets wandering into a church with very wide eyes, wandered out because the smell bothered me, strode into a supermarket, watched the vegetables then followed an old woman at a distance and then caught up with her and saw how close I could get to walking behind her before she noticed. Another moment I recall is eating a can of tuna and then crying on the kitchen floor.

    Wondrous period of life. Contrary to what a lot of people seem to think, I don’t think I’d ‘un-experience’ it. It put a lot in perspective and actually cleared a lot of things up. It also will continue to exist as a little residue in my personality. Screwed a few things up too, of course, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed.

  20. Basically 20-26, but particularly 20, 23, 24, 25. Thank you for sharing. For the first time in a long time I can read this and relate due to past experience but not to current pain.
    Holding on to that feeling, but wishing away all mental health stigma for us all. Thanks for creating more spaces for a really important dialogue. x

  21. #20 That crap is never going away. That deep dark hole of emptiness. It’s all about managing it now.

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