Like we often note at The Depression Project, there are various phrases that people with depression say such as "I'm fine", "I'm tired" or "I'm sorry" for example that are often misunderstood by the people around them. And, one of those phrases is "I feel empty" - so in this blog post, we'd like to share what people with depression ACTUALLY mean when they say this.
What People With Depression Actually Mean When They Say "I Feel Empty" - As Told To Us, In Their Own Words, By Members Of The Depression Project's Community
- “When I say 'I feel empty', then it means I’m numb. I’m so drained and used to pain that I don’t have any energy left to feel anything.”
- “I feel nothing, I really feel nothing, and it’s scary.”
- “There is no way out of this. I have nothing to give and nothing to take.”
- “It’s like living as a dead person but you are alive. Everything in your life is hallow.”
- “I have nothing to live for.”
- “There is a hole inside my soul.”
- “True numbness. Sometimes I feel no empathy for anyone else or myself.”
- “It hurts so much and I feel so unbelievably alone.”
- “I don’t feel anything while at the same time I’m fighting like hell to stay alive.”
- “I’ve shut down and I’m literally thinking/feeling nothing.”
- “Emotions are at 1% capacity.”
- “Literally complete emptiness. No feeling, just numbness.”
- “I don’t feel in control of or inside my body. I feel as if I’m spectating myself.”
- “I feel hollow inside ... my existence is pointless. I have no joy to fill me up.”
- “It feels like something is incomplete or missing."
- “I can feel nothing, not pain nor happiness. It’s probably one of the worst feelings ever.”
- “I am at the point where I stop caring about anything and I am just neutral and passive to everything.”
- “There is nothing that makes me happy, I feel alone and hopeless.”
- “It feels like there is nothing to live for ... even if you have family, work, hobbies, etcetera.”
- “I’ve dissociated and separated myself from my feelings because they are too overwhelming.”
- “Nothing matters and I don’t look forward to anything.”
- “Everything has slipped through my fingers.”
- “My energy levels are down, I am losing my appetite, I have no desire to socialise.”
- “I am overwhelmed and can’t process anything.”
- “What I really mean when I say I feel empty is that numbness is echoing through the gaping black void that swallows me. But, saying ‘I feel empty’ is easier.”
- “I need to feel loved.”
What To Do If You Know Someone With Depression Who Tells You "I Feel Empty"
As you can see, if a loved one with depression tells you "I feel empty", then it can mean a range of different things – and for this reason, we encourage you to gently dig deeper in order to try to understand what your loved one in particular means by this comment, and to then go about helping them from there. Regardless of what “I feel empty” exactly means for them in that moment, however, the symptoms of their depression are almost certainly severe. And, for this reason:
- Please don’t try to pressure them or convince them to do anything that’s likely to be beyond their comfort zone – for example, by insisting that they “get out of the house with you” or “do _______ to snap out of it”. After all, pressuring them like so is only likely to make them withdraw even more.
- Additionally, please understand that their ability to think clearly and function is likely at its lowest (or close to it) – and so, we encourage you to adjust your expectations of them accordingly.
We really hope you've found this blog post helpful.
All our love,
The Depression Project Team.