I've been depressed my entire life, what is it like to not be depressed?
Last Updated: 08/24/2020 at 3:07pm
Tim Van Rheenen, M.A., LMFT
Marriage & Family Therapist
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If you could imagine a quiet mind, contented feeling. Able to fully concentrate on whatever you are doing at the moment and living in only that moment. That is what it is like to not be depressed.
You know how sometimes you need to make a very small, trivial decision and you just don't do it? Like you might drop something and just stand staring at it thinking, "I should pick this up...but I really don't want to...". When you aren't depressed, you pick it up.
I think Andrew Solomon said it best in his TED talk: the opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality. Not being depressed is being interested in things, in life, in living. It's actually *feeling* alive.
Quite frankly, the moments when I am not depressed are the greatest moments in my life. Its like being freed. Every moment in depression for me is like Im trapped underwater, and when its gone its like I have finally submerged. The world goes from monotone with no color, to shining and beautiful.
Being depressed is not easy to deal with, it completely changes your perception of everything in your life. To be not depressed is to lift the veil of negativity that holds you back from living. This veil contains all of the negative emotions such as sadness, fear and anger. It is hard to lift the veil, but once it is lifted and you get a peak of life without these emotions, you realize how pointless wearing that veil truly is, and how beautiful life is when you look at it through the spectrum of appreciation, excitement, and awe. Everybody is affected by negative emotion, but to not be depressed is to not let these emotions consume your life, and choosing to instead focus on positivity. Every day is a fight against negative thought. To not be depressed is to learn techniques that you can use every day to ensure you are winning that fight. These techniques are different for everybody. For me, I found that being more active and healthy helped, as well as meditating to clear my mind when I find I am being consumed by thought. I also write in a journal to sort out my feelings during times when I am feeling a negative emotion such as fear, anger and sadness. I still feel all of these emotions, but I am not depressed because I have found strategies to help me recover from them super fast.
I searched for this question because it was one I wanted to ask. I'm answering for someone like myself who has managed depression, in the same sense that people can have well-managed and treated diabetes. I still have the disease, but have learnt to manage it so that it has less impact on my life. I am pretty sure that although I was always sensitive and introverted, I did not have depression before the age of 17. I'm now 38 with ongoing mild depression. I've experienced several episodes of moderate depression. Not being depressed is a baseline mental cleanness, an uncomplicated ease. You just don't reflect all that much on yourself. You are focussed on the outside world. To small disappointments, you just shrug and walk on. You don't mull over things endlessly. Your image of yourself is on the generous side (even if you assume it's realistic) - how a loving and biased parent would assess you, not how a fair interviewer would assess you. You feel baseline secure and when there's some negative external event, you expect in your gut that everything will turn out ok in the end. Well-managed depression by contrast, still involves a baseline pain and heaviness that you have to struggle against, week in week out. Sometimes you get distracted from it, but not for long. Each morning you wake up and have to fight again. I imagine well managed physical pain is similar - you have to make an effort to change your movements to accommodate to your limits, you have to do your physiotherapy exercises. After that you must just accept what pain you can't prevent and work around it. Unlike chronic physical pain, well managed depression has its advantages - it can make you more reflective, empathetic and humble. I'm a kinder, wiser person than I used to be. I'm also much more honest and less self-deceiving than the average person. But I miss the peace and quiet of my pre-depressed life. I no longer expect to recover completely. But that's ok. My life is harder than it would have been but it is still tremendously valuable. Easy contentment would be delightful but hard-won, struggled for joy is valuable too.
Not being depressed is like moving through your days with no weights on your shoulders pulling you down. It's like breathing without trying. It's like being without hiding. It is freedom from fear for a moment or two. It's, hmm, the ability, for once, to be you... It is also the knowledge, or more so the acceptance, that life is a mixture of both ups and downs - that, I think is the key... acceptance.
It's different for everyone, no one feels exactly the same way. I've been personally investigating my own depression and I believe I've always been depressed too. In my better moments though, I see the world through clearer eyes. I feel motivated, encouraged by my peers, and inspired. In these moments, I realize even though I feel the world at a lesser dampened scale - it isn't the end.
Depression makes you feel empty inside. It's not just a matter of feeling awful; it's the feeling that you cannot remember what happy feels like, and that you'll never be happy again. Coming out of depression is like... cracking an eggshell, I suppose. An empty eggshell. First a small crack appears, and you feel the more extreme emotions only, like anger, sadness, grief, and in some cases, excitement. This is a good sign; it's better than the void of not feeling, though it isn't overly fun in itself. Next, more and more cracks appear, and you start feeling more: happiness, discomfort, love, etc. You start to remember your emotional responses to your opinions. When the eggshell is finally broken, you feel more whole; not like a perfect person, yet; that takes a while, but you feel like you're on the way to being fixed, like someone has found all the pieces to the puzzle that is you, and has taped them together where they belong.
Not be depressed mean waking up the morning with smiling, being happy to do some things, like eating a good cake, read a book you like, watch a movie. You won't cry during a concert or a movie for no reason and you'll fall asleep without crying.
I've been depressed for most of my life apart from childhood. No matter what I do it seems to always be there, clouding my mind. I don't know if many of us do know what it's like not to be depressed because really... What is normal? Some of us live in extremes and some of us live without many feelings at all. I keep reading that not being depressed is not crying but I rarely ever cry. I rarely feel anything at all. I think for me if my depression was lifted it would be like a veil of negativity gone. I wouldn't question my judgement, I wouldn't back down from dreams. I would no longer be my worst enemy. But most importantly I would FEEL something again. Hopefully I will one day regain my happiness, optimism and excitement for life.
For me it was like a heavy rock was lifted from my back and the sun shined for the first time after a long and dark winter. I felt empowered, refreshed and.. grateful. I was alive again, I had survived.
Being depressed feels very futile. It means not being able to see positives, only the negatives and feeling bad and guilty towards others in your life. It makes you want to retreat and any activity is very hard work, because you are afraid something will be wrong, or you will do something wrong.
I think this differs for everyone. As someone who has experienced depression for 7 years and was able to get out of it, I feel content these days. I am no longer always hating myself, in constant tears, empty, or angry. I am now able to enjoy the little things in life like the sun or the rain, food, and the company of others around me.
You don't cry all the time and you often wake up in the morning feeling like you could do some things, and like there might be a point to doing some of those things. Your life seems worthwhile and you don't have to use coping mechanisms to deal with the horror of it. You feel cheerful and optimistic fairly often even when you're not exercising.
After my mother's death, I was depressed for over a year. Looking back now, I don't remember most of that year. It took everything I had in me just to get out of bed, go to work and take care of my family. Focusing on my new child is what helped me seek professional help, take an antidepressant and saved me. Asking for help is a wonderful thing.
That's a hard question because I've always been moderately depressed aswell. Not being depressed is when you can smile that day and not cry the following night. Where you can go have fun with friends, go hiking, camping, take a late night drive. Look at the stars and the night sky. Lay on a blanket and share laughs and memories. Not being depressed is knowing that next day you'll be better. That it isn't permenant.
After living through many years of depression and coming out on top, it feels honorable. Most people take happiness for granted, however after living through hell and suffering extensively every happy moment feels like something I truly deserve. Never give up friend, no matter how harrowing depression may be there is always a way to get better.
When depressed, moments of happiness are even more treasured. True happiness is experienced when you've been through real pain.
Probably the oddest part of not being depressed is not even thinking about the fact that one isn't depressed. The nature of people is to take the routine things of life for granted. People simply don't obsess about their situation unless they have compelling reason to, like they're unhappy or in danger or anything that comes to mind that isn't tolerable long term. It's also possible to obsess about nothing at all. Because people have an imagination, they can conjure up whole worlds that don't exist, never have and never will. It's a remarkable talent (the stuff of novels and theater), but it can be a dangerous substitute for reality (think "Walter Mitty"). Don't be afraid to explore, but don't sell the farm, either.
Not being depressed is having hope. Knowing that whatever happens, you'll get through it. It will be okay. You will be okay. Not being depressed means loving yourself and accepting your flaws. Not being depressed is knowing that you'll figure everything out and that life is good and worth living.
Depression controls life and not to be depressed like freedom of dreaming , freedom of living life happily, freedom of enjoying,
Not being depressed is when you can be happy, feel content and peaceful with your life. I hope you feel this way one day
It is definitely worth fighting for. It is courage and confidence and understanding. Its years of battles for glory.
Not being depressed is basically the exact opposite of being depressed. You don't fee quite as weighted down by anxiety and you don't feel as hopeless, and as trapped. It's not like everything gets all better, but it is a significant difference.
To not have depression anymore is like seeing a clear blue sea for the first time. It's like tasting your favorite food after you have not had it in years. It's like not having any worries in the world and you are the ruler. It is achievable, just have to take things one day at a time.
It is a feeling of freedom and a thirst for experience. It is the calmness and grounding when one feels beeing in the right place in the right time.
You get a tremendous weight lifted off of you. It's like removing an anchor from a ship or putting down heavy bags.
Not being depressed is like feeling the normal self. No negative unhealthy thoughts and feelings. To feel emotionally and mentally stable again. To enjoy risks and victories and not to be overwhelmingly sad by failure but take it the healthy way as a hurdle towards success not the end
Not being depressed is like not living under a cloud. I've experienced both at different times, and am currently going through my most recent bout of depression. Depression is living under a cloud or in a fog, and it's hard to grasp a positive thought. They're like vague shadows. Without depression it's like the fog has lifted and you can see everything clearly. The bad doesn't linger and the good can be taken hold of for as long as you want.
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