A Swimming Pool Like No Other

In this post, I present a picture that might give you a sense of what Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is like.

You’re in a clear swimming pool on a bright sunny day. From time to time, as often happens on bright days, a cloud crosses in front of the sun darkening the pool, even if only for a moment. Sometimes the cloud seems to linger and suggests a coming storm, but more often it makes itself known and moves on.

You begin to swim, feeling the resistance of the water and the warmth of the sun. Unbeknownst to you, someone is pouring a black liquid into the pool, slowly causing the pool to darken and the water to thicken. When you swim beneath it, you think it’s nothing more than a passing cloud.

The black liquid being added to the pool thickens the water and adds weight to the it, increasing its resistance to your strokes. You have to work harder to maintain your usual stroke and this extra work wears you down. But this effect happens so imperceptibly that you don’t notice it until real exhaustion sets in.

Black Liquid by Brigitte-Fredensborg

You now try to swim to the edge of the pool, but the thick liquid has drained you so much that you are fighting for every inch of progress. And much like mud will suck on a boot, the thick black liquid just sucks you right back. The liquid, The Black, is cloying, suffocating, with a weight that is uncomfortable and draining. But you keep struggling to escape.

Over time, you become more and more exhausted. No matter what you do, you cannot escape. Since black liquid is still being added it gains in weight and thickness, pushing back against you. Utterly exhausted, you sink deeper and deeper into The Black until all light is blocked out. You’re surrounded by nothing but black. You feel utterly alone and, because you didn’t have the strength to escape, you berate yourself – continuously, unceasingly.

Your struggle has taken you beyond pain and exhaustion into numbness. Your limbs are simply too tired for you to feel them. But you keep struggling seeking escape, keep blaming yourself when you cannot. You reach a point when you can cannot struggle any more. You surrender to The Black.

MDD is that, and so much more. How does Major Depressive Disorder feel to you? How do you describe it to someone who wants to understand? Please Speak Out in the comments.


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