Depression, like many things in life, can be hard to fully grasp if you haven’t experienced it firsthand. That lack of understanding can cause even well-meaning friends and family to say the wrong thing, or to act as if their depressed loved one is being dramatic or can just choose to snap out of their mental illness with enough willpower.
To try and tackle the comprehension issue, writer John Anson devised a way for people who aren’t depressed to get a glimpse into what it feels like to live with depression every single day.
It’s not going to be pleasant, but if you’re someone truly striving to walk a mile in the shoes of another, then you should give it a go.
He begins with creating the “world everyone else knows,” and advises you to start by turning on the fan in a cold, dimly lit bathroom. Then, strip naked and get into a steaming, hot bath. You’re comfortable, you’re serene. Everything is lovely.
Now, to understand the difference between your experience of the world and that of someone struggling with depression, pull the drain plug.
Stay there as you “listen to the gurgling thirst of the drain, as your bath gradually transitions to the past tense.” Don’t move even after all of the water is gone.
“Keep still. Let yourself shiver. Don’t attempt to warm yourself. This is what depression feels like. It feels like everything good has all drained out, leaving you cold and naked and alone.”
The powerful words in his piece inspired the video below, but I encourage you to try the experiment yourself for maximum impact – and maximum understanding.
Nothing will make the world a better place faster than each of us striving to understand the “other” every time we have a chance, and Anson’s experiment is the perfect opportunity to do just that.