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How Does Depression Feel?

Feels like Suffering

It’s okay not to be okay. Most of us aren’t. Or maybe I am just saying that because I’m not okay right now. But can’t both things be true? They can. Life is complicated. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that. Did you know that 1 in 5 U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2020 (52.9 million people according to the NAMI*)? So yes, most of us aren’t okay. Did you know that I almost committed suicide in April 2021? So yes, I’m not okay.

The Response

“Are you better now? Are you seeking professional help? Do you have a friend to talk to? How often do you have thoughts of suicide? Do you have a plan?”

I am tired of these questions, so I’ll ask them before you do. It’s not that I don’t want attention, I do. It’s not that I don’t want care, I do. It’s not that I don’t want help, I do. It’s not that I don’t want to live, I do. It’s not that I don’t want to love, I do. It’s not that I don’t want to be loved, I do.

I just don’t know how. I don’t know how to do these things. Because of 6 reasons:

1. I feel like a burden.

2. I want to cry but can’t. I thank toxic masculinity and male gender norms for that gem

of a feature that has left me caged within my own body.

3. Seriously, do you know how difficult it is to want to cry but you can’t?

4. How difficult it is to comfort your friends yet feel all alone?

5. How difficult it is to want to cry but simultaneously feel shame for being weak or

wondering how ugly you look, but then reminding yourself to just give up, because you were never beautiful to begin with?

6. Sometimes I wonder if when I die my body will burst into rain, from all the tears I kept bottled behind my eyes?

These are my thoughts today. And honestly, today is a good day. Most days are worse.

The Context

During the height of the pandemic around April 2020, I imagined torturing myself because it made me feel better. No, I’m not crazy. I just didn’t know how to deal with the trauma. I ended up moving back with my parents because of a toxic situation with roommates, but I jumped from one fire to the next. You see the sole cause of my mental health illnesses from OCD to Anxiety to Depression stem from childhood trauma and severe abuse. I was constantly subjugated to emotional neglect, an emotionally underdeveloped & absentee father, and narcissistic mother.

So yes, moving back in with my mom, dad, and sister, while we confined ourselves to the joys of

1. A small apartment.

2. Fears of COVID-induced death in April 2020 as we simultaneously shared the


3. Obsessive COVID-focused “rules” of cleanliness that were really a ploy to hold me

captive. These were thrust down my throat by a controlling mother & sister duo.

4. And constant exposure to all of them all the time while no one left the house in 3

months as we continued to be unemployed and suffocated in fear

was not the best choice to say the least. That was a mouthful. But I wouldn’t know. I

hardly had the air to breathe out of my mouth, as COVID had hit me the worst. I

couldn’t get up without feeling like I would pass out. At the time, I didn’t feel 29



Now I am 31. I don’t live with them anymore. But ever since then things have never been the same. Most days I don’t want to eat or even brush my teeth. It takes me a day, sometimes many more, to even get out of bed. So yes, please don’t ask me questions, just tell me you love me and that my life is worth something. Tell us, the depressed, that we belong.

But better yet, help us get better. How? Well to start, we need to change the system. Honestly if our healthcare system were better, I would be doing better. A lot of us would be doing better. No, I am not referring to how we as a country handled COVID. That was and is abysmal. I’m also talking about how we continue to “deal” with mental health.

1. We “deal” with mental health loading it with stigma.

2. We should treat it as a real illness akin to an athlete suffering an injury.

3. We have structural barriers that make it almost impossible to get treated.

4. We should offer quality mental health care for free.

5. We have Big Pharma and Big Insurance that keep problematic barriers in place:

i. Low payouts to needed psychologists

ii. Denial of coverage for pertinent anti-depressants

iii. Limits on access to providers

iv. Limits on # of sessions

v. Infuriating copays that most can’t afford to pay

vi. Virtual mental care startups that can’t substitute for in person


vii. Legalese and a complicated health insurance system that most

can’t fathom to navigate

viii. Treatment of suicidal patients through forced hospitalization

and tranquilizers

ix. Poorly trained staff in these settings

x. Bills of $40k that insurance doesn’t cover for that ambulance

ride you took after you attempted to kill yourself and are

bleeding to death, and the worst hospital visit ever.

6. We should do better.

So, am I better? No, I’m not. Have I sought help? Yes, for nearly 8 years now. Is my depression better? No, still the same and untreated. Do I currently have support? I don’t but not for lack of trying.





Why did I write this? Not because I hope to be better. But because today was one of the good days and while I can I wanted to share what it feels like to be depressed from the eyes of one NYC born gender questioning Indian. Understanding that identity is for another day, one I hope to see. For now, I’ll start by waking up tomorrow.

*NAMI stands for National Alliance on Mental Illness

Sarathimeyyappan Sakthivel is the CEO & Founder of Nirvana Works, the path to happiness and connection.

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