Somewhat unhelpfully, having depression is not synonymous with ‘being depressed’ in the most common use of that phrase. ‘Depressed’ people are sad and unhappy; they have lots of feelings, but those feelings happen to be negative ones. People with depression (by which I mean ‘I’) sometimes just don’t have any feelings.
As an experience, this is horrible beyond belief. I can be spending time with people I love and just want them to go away because the link between the bit of my brain that knows I love them and the bit with the love in is broken so I can’t access the love even though it’s there. I can be at a party and just be unable to get excited about what’s going on. I can’t even get frustrated about this, because frustration is a feeling.
When my feelings do return, the first one in line is usually guilt, because as someone who was once an affectionate person I hate not being able to genuinely reciprocate when people care for me (which is still happening disconcertingly often). It is of course quite difficult to be happy as well as guilty, so when I’m not a Person With Depression I’m quite often Depressed. I think this is why people with depression turn to self harm (don’t panic, I’ll never do that); when you can’t feel anything mentally it must come as something of a relief to know that you can still feel physically.
I’m feeling flat at the moment; I have very occasionally regressed to lying on the floor when I’m in this state, because the floor makes me feel more (physically) than my bed or the sofa, which as I’ve said is a relief. Not having any feelings, viewed retrospectively from a state where I do have feelings, is also quite scary because I don’t understand why. The antidepressants are meant to make me feel less, because a major side effect of less feeling is less despair, but they’re not supposed to flatten things out completely. That’s something the depression does which the drugs probably can’t fix.
Sleep helps; more accurately, sleep deprivation (from which I suffer almost constantly because I do too many things) exacerbates the issue. Helping other people helps too, because the compassion-for-others section of my feelings doesn’t seem to suffer from the same anaemia as the feelings towards myself. And occasionally someone says something so heart-rendingly lovely to me that my feelings wake up. The rest of the time nothing matters and I don’t care.