Plath’s classic description of smothering yourself in your own stewed air under a bell jar still remains one of my favourite descriptions of depression and what it feels like.
It’s not just the stifling qualities but the sense of detachment that I find so accurate. Within the bell jar you are at once part of the world; you can see it and hear it yet you are not fully in it, you are separated by a thin glass wall, the sounds are muffled and you are always looking through something at the world.
I would also describe it as like being behind a sheet of cling-film; the world is so close yet there’s this thin film that clings to you, that won’t let you fully engage, your senses are dulled and you are still separated. Able to see the world, albeit in a plasticy distorted haze, you can touch but only through a sweaty film barrier.
The imagery of suffocation in both similes (or metaphors? I’m a bit unsure which is most apt) is intensely accurate, the feeling that this thing is draining oxygen and life from you with every breath. The stifling atmosphere of being unable to breathe properly and the distorted focus on your own mortality that this brings. It’s like that uncomfortable muggy feeling of a still, breezeless heat wave, it’s too hot to do much , everything seems such a chore, you are aware of the failings of your body and how uncomfortable all your senses are and you can’t sleep as the heat is too much so you just lie there, stewing in this invisible oppressive force.