“When you are depressed you know that nothing in your surroundings has changed, yet for you the color has drained out of the world and a barrier as impenetrable as it is invisible cuts you off from the rest of the world.
The experience of depression is the sense of being alone in a prison.
Someone who is depressed doesn’t say, “I feel as if I am in a prison’ but ‘ I am in a prison.’
If you want to find out if someone is depressed, ask that person, “if you could paint a picture of what you’re feeling what sort of picture would you paint? ”
Each person will give you a different image. Here are some images that have been described to me.
I’m in swirling water and being slowly sucked down.
I’m walking endlessly in the dark.
A drooping, dying flower wrapped in a blanket.
A child in a dark corner facing a wall.
I’m walking along an empty road that’s going nowhere.
I’m on a quay and the last boat is sailing away. I can’t leave the shore.
I’m in a box without doors or windows.
I’m in the center of an empty, treeless plain. The plain goes on forever and I cannot move.”
All these images have the same meaning. The person is alone in a prison.
If you asked the same question of someone who is unhappy the answer given would describe a miserable scene but there would be no sense of being trapped and alone.
It is this sense of isolation which makes depression so terrible. As all prison warders and torturers know, complete isolation for an indefinite period will break the strongest person.
Because the experience of depression is so exceedingly painful many people call it an illness and try to get rid of it. Yet, if ever you’ve tried to help someone who’s depressed you’ll know the depressed person, while asking for help, manages to turn aside all your efforts.”
SOURCE: Dorothy Rowe’s Guide to life.1995. HarperCollins/Publishers . Pages 78-79.