What it feels like to be in my brain when I am depressed

So, here I am, not particularly striking, with my weird nose, rather tired.   I look normal enough.  Nothing much going on there.  Visualise tumbleweeds, flotsam, carrion shuddering on bone in an arid desert…

And here’s my brain- poetic license has been observed.

(Note: Not actual size.  It has been proven that manic depressives have brains that are the size of walnuts, rather like sauropods.  Both are regarded with more sentimentality than they maybe deserve).

Then you get a bit closer…

This is the Universal Depressive Translator. 

He takes seemingly friendly and innocuous salutations, actions, laughter, jokes and so on and then turns them into horrible things that make me wonder if everybody really hates my guts so that I spend my entire waking life locked in a jumpy, paranoid ballet, loathing myself for every thing I say, do and am because it all seems to illicit further (albeit veiled) disgust from the world at large.

It makes it very difficult for me to concentrate on anything because I have to disentangle my thoughts, and other people’s words, from the sound of his voice.

So I lie awake and his voice spins around in my head, over and over again.

He doesn’t hate me, not really.  It’s what he has to say, what he has to do.   And I don’t really hate him either.  I regard him almost affectionately, because I have known him for a really long time. Both of us are just going through the motions.

But I do everything to try and drown him out- I walk around singing, I vocalise my thoughts.  And it works, for a while.  But eventually, my voice is lost altogether.  What I want stops mattering, stops even being real. I want to live, I think.  I become a phantom.

60 Responses

  1. Brilliant representation. I think the slide that I like the most is the last one, where it says he doesn’t like his job very much. If he was at least evil, then it would be easier for you to insult him and ignore him.

    Oh, mine is a woman, and is named “Sofia”.

    Btw, it looks like you had purple mascara on your photo. I like it! Of course it’s probably not purple mascara but purple eyeliner… or something.

    I should stop being so enthusiastic about purple things in public.

  2. I’m sure your brain is a lot bigger than that.

    Thank-you for the post. Food for thought.

  3. You should totally fire that guy. He sounds like a total ass#@$%.

  4. Just dropping by.Btw, you website have great content!

    Who Else Wants To Discover A Rebel Psychiatrist’s Amazing Secret That Lets You Put People Under Your Control Quickly & Easily and Get Them to Do Anything You Want?

  5. It’s my hypomania I’d personify. It is like another person sat in there, reading “the best” out of what everyone says or suggests. I feel depression is more like arguing with myself, and the saner one is the one in my head saying “stop this, you’re behaving like a child” while my outer self screams back “I CAN’T!”

  6. Thats a great way to show it

  7. Tee hee. Never seen it represented like that before, it does kind of work though.

  8. I really like that post! It’s a good representation. BTW, your hair is an amazing colour!


  9. Brilliant. I love the way you seem to zoom in on Egbert. This is absolutely the right way to approach your depression. Personify it. Study it. Zoom in on it. Understand it. Even empathise with it. ‘He doesn’t like his job very much’.

    All those things will militate against you becoming a victim of it. There’s just too much life force in you Seaneen. Try as you might, you cannot fail to survive and thrive, while Egbert will gradually slope off with a slightly sheepish expression and take up residence in someone else’s head.

    You don’t hate him. You can see his point of view. Know your enemy. That’s the way to triumph over him. Love, Zoe xxx

  10. Had to break lurk cover to say – Great post! I know exactly what you mean about the apparent veiled contempt that everyone seems to feel for one when one is depressed, and the personification of depression.

    Mine is a black dog, like Churchill’s. A Doberman Pinscher to be exact.

    There is no arguing. I have to overrule him, grapple with him, dominate him, show him that I am the master.

    It doesn’t always work, and it is very tiring.

  11. Seriously, you have natural beauty.

    And I’d like to kick Egbert up the arse. I wonder if little Egbert has his own character inside his head.

  12. Great representation, I’ve never really thought of naming the ‘voice’ of depression inside me.

    Hope Egbert shuts up soon for you.

    Take care,

  13. Good post. I imagine all the graphic finagling kept you occupied and, hopefully, shut the depression up for a while.

    I’m having a bit of a spell myself due to the DWP asking me to go through the claim process again. But my tablets seem to be helping me sleep which I think is the main thing stopping the depression spiralling out of control.

    I see my psych on Thursday. Hopefully he will help me sort out the DWP issues, though I’m not counting on it.

  14. Always nice to know I’m not the only one with crazy voices in my head!

  15. That’s the first thing today that made me laugh (dispite my own personal translator 😉

    You are amazing, in every sense! And just in case Egbert will convert this to some nonsense, I tell you that I I’m not kidding. You really are.

    I hope this can bypass your Egbert!

  16. Kinda wanna know how you put that together visually, like what program you did it on. Very nice. Louise x

  17. (Paint Shop Pro.

    Only just noticed that my brain is backwards- explains a lot! x)

  18. From a 2008 Neuropharmacology review paper:

    “Computed tomography and MRI have revealed structural abnormalities in the brains of patients with mood disorders”

    (ie increased ventricular size and decreased frontal cortical area volumes)

    That increased ventricular size could all be due to Egbert needing somewhere to put his desk. Figures.

    Thanks for this 🙂

  19. Firstly thanks for your comment on my blog, it’s really kind of you.
    I love your blog, this post is so clever. I know the voices very well, I’ll come up with a name soon.


  20. Egbert plagues you too? Good lord! No wonder he hates his job. He has to work two of them!

  21. At the risk of appearing superficial. Or trivializing your problems. And whilst I acknowledge bad things happen to good people. And books are not to be judged by their covers. And other clichés that appertain. You look hot. As the proverbials.

  22. Ask Egbert to prove his accusations. Ask “Is that a fact or an opinion?”
    Childs game link with same phrase.

  23. Great hair color, and I love the short bangs. Just went back on meds after 8 months off. Got a pep talk from the new head shrinker, but it still feels like failure. I think I share your DJ>

  24. When I look at this I see a pretty girl with a quirky sense of humour and creative talent.

    I don’t see anything to hate and your website proves your worth, it helps so many people like me realise that we are not alone in the world.

  25. Drink shuts up my Egbert – all too successfully and it’s the only thing that I’ve ever found that does, hence the chicken, thus the egg…

    In a song once – Why Do You Find It Hard To Sleep – I put it like this (apologies for self-indulgence, pretension and the like):

    You ceaselessly seek for peace to find,
    That you’re at war with your own mind….

    Make of that what you will and I hope you have a better time soon.

    Drunk in Cardiff./

  26. That’s one of the best descriptions of what depression is like that I’ve ever read. Though I’m sorry to hear Egbert’s working overtime at the moment 😦 (The pink hair and new flat look good though 🙂

  27. […] Mentally Interesting: The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive has a pictorial post on the depressed brain. […]

  28. Thanks, your chap-in-the-head had me laughing, but then I was sad again because I realised how true it is. I wish I could express myself as clearly as you !
    Hmm, now I need to find a good name for my chap/chapess translator. Thanks for giving me a new view on my head 🙂

  29. […] The highs are too high, and the lows are –well– “six feet under,” to hear sufferers describe it.  It’s a living hell that can only be remedied with a powerful daily regiment of drugs.  […]

  30. Darling your nose is utterly lovely, what are you worried about???

  31. This is super-duper creative work of a genius!

  32. umm your brain is in your head backwards. maybe that has something to do with the mental health issues

  33. Do not listen to that voice baby! A very Plath motif here I think?

  34. Sylvia Plath:

    Death & Co.

    Two, of course there are two.
    It seems perfectly natural now —
    The one who never looks up, whose eyes are lidded
    And balled¸ like Blake’s.
    Who exhibits

    The birthmarks that are his trademark —
    The scald scar of water,
    The nude
    Verdigris of the condor.
    I am red meat. His beak

    Claps sidewise: I am not his yet.
    He tells me how badly I photograph.
    He tells me how sweet
    The babies look in their hospital
    Icebox, a simple

    Frill at the neck
    Then the flutings of their Ionian
    Then two little feet.
    He does not smile or smoke.

    The other does that
    His hair long and plausive
    Masturbating a glitter
    He wants to be loved.

    I do not stir.
    The frost makes a flower,
    The dew makes a star,
    The dead bell,
    The dead bell.

    Somebody’s done for.

  35. Actually, i have to disagree with your first statement… when the page started up, the first thing I remember thinking was, “She’s cute”.

  36. Filters fucking filters, it’s filtered in and it’s filtered out, in out, in out and it fucks you all about. The doctors want to fix my head but i’ll use a sledgehammer instead. woooooah the ok no ok, woooooah the ok no ok, knees bent head down bang bang bang.

    i’m glad i found your pages, i find it difficult to commit to saying anything real to the point where i do not even know if what i think is what i really think sometimes, most times, sometimes though i know i own my thoughts and they are cool like ice frosting my breath when i speak. you write well and it’s nice to be able to realise some things through your mirror.

  37. I think you’re gorgeous!

  38. I love that you have named your depressive translator. I just started reading your blog. I have also just started my own at http://wherehorseslive.blogspot.com/ There’s not much to it yet, but I felt inspired by all the other bipolar blogs out there inculding your own.


  39. I really enjoyed this post!

  40. pretty funny after the fact

  41. Wow…that was a great blog.

    I never thought about personifying the depression. I just have a bunch of voices going on and on. For me, he’s a mean little boy telling me the same things as egbert, only I am also told that I am wrong, that I don’t deserve to be loved, that I need to be myself, whatever the F*&K that means. I’m also told that people don’t like me that I am ‘different’, weird, too much, obnoxious, and uncaring. I found solace while self-medicating in the pubs looking for whatever attention I could find, drinking pint after pint, looking for speed, trying to find peace by any means necessary. I know I need a LOT of therapy and help is on the way. I finally have a foundation to begin from. Thanks for the insight. It’s really comforting to know that there are other people out there who have experienced the same feelings that I have. I am glad to have found your blog. Keep up the fantastic work!!

  42. You have exquisite bone structure.

  43. Personifying depression – my mother’s voice

  44. you’re so clever and I’m so dumb.

  45. Dumb people should be sterilized at least that’s what the Daily Mail Says.

  46. You’ve just described me! :O This is what is happening to me, at the moment – and since the beginning of March (ever since I come off my anti-depressants, after being on them since 2004!) I call it “IT” – like that clown from that Stephen King book/movie! 😉 Looks like him too – the clown I mean (not Stephen King) LOL! 😉 🙂

  47. Wow. That is exactly what it’s like in my head. 🙂 this website is a bloody life saver ^_^ xxxxxxxxxxxxx

  48. Great way of showing what its like to be depressed. I know how that feels, when your mind becomes your worst enemy and any little thing will set you off. The voice that constantly tells you how worthless you are and will not stop. Even worse is the fact that when you are in the throws of depression any progress or escape almost seems impossible. Its not until that little man with the mike is either killed or pushed out that one feels better. There are days, even weeks, where I have to constantly tell myself that the ugly thoughts are only my mind fucking with me. But even then I get paranoid by the idea that I am having a discussion/argument with my brain.

    For me, exercise, mediation and some bits of therapy have helped curb these feelings.

    Thanks for sharing,


  49. Ah, yes, Alice is mine. She’s the source of all anxiety, self-harm and suicidal thoughts, feelings of inadequacy and jealousy, rage, and acts as the depressive filter you have shown very astutely above. When I feel bad, I let someone know that Alice isn’t being nice, usually my boyfriend.

    Hopefully treatment will make her shut up!

  50. Thank you!!!!!!!!
    Your cartoon opened my eyes and opened up a conversation w my son(17) who’s been recently diagnosed w bp.
    (and btw- thank you is such an incredibly lame expression of the gratitude I am feeling- but I’m not the wordy type so it’ll have to do.)

  51. That’s a good representation. If my Egbert had a sex she would most likely be female. Thankfully, she’s gotten quieter over the years as I move further into recovery. Unfortunately, when she does make noise it’s as powerful and the thoughts are as believable as it’s always been.

  52. Hello Seaneen,
    I do not remember Egbert but I find him very interesting.
    I also like your comments and your other posters views.
    Keep well,
    Kind regards,

  53. My husband named mine The Combat Bully. But he’s clearly the operational twin of your Egbert. I just want it to be over. I want to be alive again. Apparently that’s too much to ask.

  54. Well put. This is definitely familiar at the moment…

  55. Wow! An excellent, intelligent and very humorous representation of depression. Thank you!

  56. I think you are beautiful.

  57. Probably teaching granny to suck eggs, but have you heard of Eckhart Tolle? Your Egbert is his Pain Body.

  58. My head turns innocuous comments into horrible things too. It makes living a very difficult task. I have anhedonia so there are never good times. I often wonder if I am a masochist or just a coward.
    Anyway, have a wonderful day.

What say you? Comment here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: