It can be difficult explaining what it feels like to have depression to someone who truly doesn't get it. More than just feeling a little down now and then, depression is a physically — and mentally — draining condition characterized by feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, and abnormal sleeping and eating habits. But a stark description can't accurately portray what it's like to actually live with this mental illness.
At the 2014 National Poetry Slam in Oakland, Calif., Sabrina Benaim delivered an incredible performance of a conversation with her mother in which she tries to make her understand what it's like to have depression. Since it was released by Button Poetry last year, more than 2.6 million people have watched this incredibly important conversation.
"Mom, my depression is a shape-shifter," Benaim begins. "One day it is as small as a firefly in the palm of a bear, the next, it's the bear."
Depression doesn't always look the same from one day to the next. While it can be easily managed on some days, it can be a crushing burden on others.
As Benaim continues, she explains how even activities meant to improve a mood, such as lighting candles, can trigger deep, irrational anxieties.
Anxiety frequently comes along with depression and can make it difficult to go out and do the things that should be fun.
"Sure, I make plans. I make plans, but I don't wanna go. I make plans because I know I should want to go. I know, sometimes, I would have wanted to go," she shudders, "It's just not that much fun having fun when you don't want to have fun, Mom."
After some deep breaths, she continues and tells her mother about the insomnia that keeps her awake, with all of her worries ringing in her ears.
"I am sleepwalking on an ocean of happiness I cannot baptize myself in," she tells her mother.
Though happiness does come at times, it's transient.
Benaim ends the poem by showing us that even though she struggles with depression and her mother doesn't, they have one incredible thing in common.
The delivery of her poem is one of the highlights of the video. In addition to the words coming out of her mouth, her body language really drives home how thorny depression is. As her verse goes on, her arms tense and her body starts to shake, her voice trembling as it supports the weight of the feelings she's describing.
Listen to Benaim's powerful performance here:
(H/T: Button Poetry)