I’ve been chronicling some of my experiences with mental illness because a lot of people ask me what it feels like. Here’s one of those essays.

The sunlight wakes me up. I didn’t pull down my blinds last night. Behind me are floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking downtown Atlanta. It’s a gorgeous view, but right now it’s an annoyance. The light is flooding my apartment, bouncing off the mirror on the wall opposite the windows and straight into my face. This is what happens when you live in a studio, it’s just one big room. Even if it’s on the 13th floor of a luxury high rise apartment building.

This is depression. It can take the most jaw dropping view, the warm feeling of the sun streaming in through your windows and make it feel like a curse. Most of the time depression makes me feel nothing at all, but if I do get a glimpse into feelings, the negatives ones are always in the foreground. It makes five minute tasks take a five hours because four hours and fifty five minutes are spent willing myself to do it in the first place.

This annoyance of a sunny day had woken me up on a Saturday. The weather was perfect. I could start my day now, make it to the farmer’s market, meet some friends for mimosas on a patio in Midtown, follow it up with a walk through the park, get some popsicles and chill on the grass, catch a movie, get a drink and come home. But first, I had to get up and brush my teeth.

For two hours I lie in bed, part of me willing myself to go brush, the other part of me feeling like deadweight, unable or unwilling to move, I didn’t know which. I was hungry, I was thirsty, I really needed to pee, but solving all of those problems required too much effort. Finally my body’s needs overruled my lack of motivation and I grudging sat up. I took three steps to the bathroom, relieved myself, took the three steps back, drank some water and got under the sheets again.

Under this heavy comforter with the AC at the perfect temperature, I could lie comfortably, hoping I didn’t have to wake up tomorrow. Trying to be functional during the week had drained me completely. There was no way I was going to do anything this weekend. My phone was buzzing. The group messages planning the farmer’s market and mimosas were raging. I could say I wasn’t feeling well, I could make an excuse, but that would require picking up the phone, unlocking the screen, opening the app, reading the messages, typing out a response, no thanks, too much effort. And god forbid I sent one message, there would be thirty more to follow up on. I let the phone keep buzzing.

By lunchtime my body can’t handle the hunger. So I order a sandwich online. It takes thirty minutes to reach me, but it feels like five because all I’ve managed to do in that time is drag myself to the bathroom and brush. I get back into bed, put on whatever tv show I was watching last night and eat. I don’t even really pay attention to the show. It’s just background noise. I put the paper and napkins under my side table and lie down again. I fall asleep.

I wake up just as the sun is setting. I smile just a little that another day gone by successfully. I turn the tv show back on for background noise. The fact that the day is almost over puts me in a better mood. I’ve dodged all the plans, ignored all the messages, just a few more hours and I can go back to sleep. I throw some laundry into the washing machine. I eat some leftovers and half heartedly listen to the tv show. I have no idea what season or what episode I’m even on. The whole thing is just one long blurry episode to me anyway.

I refill my water bottle. I clear up the leftovers. I even manage to clean up what I had left under my bedside table. Not bad, not bad at all. The wash cycle is done. I move the clothes to the dryer, turn it on, and get back into bed. I’ve done enough for the day.

I’ve forgotten to draw the blinds again. Let’s hope tomorrow is cloudy.

If your days have felt like this for weeks on end, you might have depression. Please find a therapist near you. Depression is not the same as laziness and doesn’t mean you lack motivation. It’s chemicals in your brain that aren’t allowing you to function. It does get better but you have to get help.

Thanks for taking the time to read something I wrote/compiled/transcribed. I don’t put any of the content I post behind a paywall because I feel like it should be accessible to anyone who needs it. That being said, putting together content takes time, effort, and thought. I’m a freelancer without a salary and I live off the gig economy and the contribution of patrons. If you would like to contribute to my work (you can give as little as $2 or 150 rupees a month) please click here: https://www.patreon.com/urvashi

Actor, Struggler, Agony Aunt