July 4, 2019

Depression is a Shapeshifter.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Elephant Journal (@elephantjournal) on

People say that depression doesn’t have a look.

I both agree and disagree.

It wasn’t until depression clouded my life that I realised it isn’t static. Depression is a shapeshifter.

It’s there in the half smiles, hidden under carefully constructed layers, and in the curves of slumped shoulders.

The deep sadness can be heard in empty laughs that echo across empty spaces in an attempt to fill a void. It can be seen in the shaking hands and dark circles that exhaustion smudges beneath sorry eyes—eyes that are sorry they are a burden, even though they are not.

So, when you tell me that you have depression, I want you to know that I know you’re hurting. I can see it in your eyes, and the way that you carry your body.

You feel like the weight of the world is crushing you and you just can’t breathe. You’re begging for some sort of release because you simply can’t contain the pain any longer—plastering on your false smile for the benefit of the world around you.

But you do it anyway because you’re scared that if you let your sadness show that you will crumble and the world around you will fall to pieces.

I see you. I see your pain.

The thing is, before I became unwell with depression, I used to think it was just a heavy sadness that hangs off your bones—a case of feeling a bit blue and under the weather.

But, we carry it around with us wherever we go, like a dysfunctional lucky charm that is anything but lucky. All the while it morphs itself as it pleases, and we are left to pick up the pieces.

There are days when depression is a small fleck of lint in a pocket, where it sits nestled away and barely noticeable. You can walk without feeling the weight of it dragging your feet down. Your mind feels fresh and clear, and you can breathe freely. These are the days where you can forget, for a blissful moment, that depression exists.

Some days depression is your best friend. It brings a sense of comfort with its familiarity as it dulls out the world—muting the colours and fading the noises.

You feel trapped in your own bubble, but you just don’t have the energy to fight it or to really care as you hide underneath the duvet with the curtains drawn against the daylight.

There are times when depression feels like a stormy sea, the waves relentlessly crashing into your ship as you try to desperately hold on to something stable.

Depression can morph itself into a rage when you’re exhausted from endless nights of broken sleep, and your body feels as though it is made of lead. The rage builds inside of you and you fear that you will destroy everything you love; these are the days that scare you the most.

Sometimes depression feels like the empty half of the bed, where the sheets are cold, and it feels as though something is missing inside of you—something that you can’t quite pinpoint or put words to.

You drag yourself out from under the covers, catching sight of yourself in the mirror. You can’t even recognise the ghostly person who stares back.

Depression brings days where the tears simply won’t stop, and you wonder how you even have any tears left. You feel like a hopeless mess.

The next day you feel nothing but numb, and the tears simply won’t fall. You can’t comprehend how you can switch between the two so seamlessly, it leaves you restless and in a confused haze.

Other times, depression feels like a black hole, inhaling every shred of light around you. You wake up wishing that you hadn’t and begging for an escape that seems as though it will never come.

You realise that you can’t remember who you are anymore, and you’re not the person that you used to be and it scares you.

You feel as though you are consumed and all that remains is the sadness that eats away at you. These are the days where you feel like you’ve lost the battle.

But you are not your depression.

Depression is a shapeshifter.

It can take you by surprise each day, but depression is always smaller than you.

It may come in waves, and some days may feel impossible, but the water will settle, and you will be able to breathe again and feel the beauty of the sun as it warms your face.

You will find joy in the smallest of things once more, and although depression may still linger in your pocket like something you just can’t shake, you will find your strength to fight back if it tries to rear its head once more.

You are more than your depression, and I believe in you. I believe in us.

author: Abbie Hambleton

Image: Matheus Bertelli

Editor: Michelle Gean

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

Kelly Derscheid Jul 11, 2019 10:32pm

Whoa. You wrote that exactly how depression is for me-and how I wish others like friends and family who don’t have it would actually understand it…because they say they do and are “here for me” but their actions don’t change. So I just keep saying, yea, I’m fine, I always am.
Thank you-I will send this to those people in hopes they actually will understand.

dunbarlawgoddess Jul 8, 2019 11:57am

The description of depression and its various shapes spoke to me – it intimately and accurately described depression as I feel it. Thanks.

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.

Abbie Hambleton

Abbie Hambleton is a writer, blogger, photographer, and lover of all things creative. She usually writes about her experiences of mental illness, and poetry. You can find more of her work on her blog and on Instagram.