A World Without Color: Struggling with Depression

William Brien, Contributing Author

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This is a four-part series written by senior and contributing author William Brien. The following article discusses depression and suicide.


“I buried my head under the darkness of the pillow and pretended it was night. I couldn’t see the point of getting up. I had nothing to look forward to.”

— Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

It’s hard to describe what depression feels like. If you’ve experienced it, you’re familiar with that all-encompassing dread. If you haven’t, there’s no way for you to really understand it except through stories and impersonal facts. For those, like me, who live it every day, shape our lives around it, it severs human connection. 

Expressing yourself to someone who doesn’t know depression feels like speaking a foreign language. Every step is a hopeless lunge with the unbearable weight of misery threatening to snap your spine. Every laugh is just the passage of cold, dead air. People say that you’re fine. The way you trudge around, mindlessly consumed by the hopelessness of everything, you may as well be that rock or this empty glass. They tell you to snap out of it. Words pass through you like a knife cutting butter. You want to scream, but you can’t make any noise. They tell you to don a smile. These empty words, though well-intended, only exacerbate your isolation, making you feel less and less understood. 

This is depression’s most insidious attack: it cuts you off from the rest of the world. You may be surrounded by crowds of people, a plethora of excited friends and family, but you feel no less isolated than when you lie alone in a silent room. In that lonely state, living feels futile. Nothing is left inside except the abyss of loneliness and the absurd desire to bridge it.

To many, this condition is incomprehensible. How can anyone live in a world so hopeless, so weighty and cruel? Well, 20% of teens and just over a third of college students do. And more than anything, they yearn to be understood. They wish to fill the gap between themselves and the world.

These people remain unseen, but they are everywhere. They go to school like everyone else, work for salaries like everyone else, mingle in groups like everyone else. They are your friends and family, your peers and teachers. Yet their cries remain unheard, and they bear the burden of loneliness in solitude. They feel like background characters in a play that isn’t about them, floating around in a scene where their presence adds no value. They did not ask for this miserable role. They merely happened upon it, and they cannot escape it.

As Suicide Awareness Month begins, I write this series of articles for those unheard voices. Having experienced depression from the earliest days of my life, I know how it confines you, how it tears your spirit to shreds. My goal is to dispel misconceptions about it that are not only ignorant, but dangerous. But I will not do so simply through facts and statistics (though they may prove helpful). I will give depression a more human face, one that victims can identify with and others can engage with. Ultimately, my message to my fellow sufferers is this: you are not alone. There are millions who ache like you. And through your own persistence and the compassion of others, you can overcome your pain and restore meaning to your lives.


If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HELLO to 741741.

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