stuck under snow


I was surprised as I turned on my computer this morning. I muddled through some emails, and then opened the Tiny Buddha page where one of my posts was published recently. 25 comments! I had not expected that. Reading through others’ stories, I suddenly realized, I’m not so alone! I had always thought I was “weird” with having the words “major depression” struck against my diagnosis. However, it really seems much more widespread than I imagined it to be. It’s not just me on this sinking ship.

Yet, it seems that not everyone can empathize. Some still laugh and think I should “snap out of it.
Actually, some readers have written and asked me, “How does it actually feel when one is depressed?” A simple search on the internet gives you a list of symptoms as loss of motivation, loss of appetite, lethargy, suicide ideations etc… But these as a matter of fact theories do not do sufferers of depression any justice as to the hell they go through.

Other sufferers probably describe it differently. Some say the “dark dog”, some say the “bottomless pit of hell.” For me, it was “snow”…

In the worst days, I felt trapped under 50 feet of snow after an avalanche. I couldn’t breathe, I was squished, I couldn’t move, I didn’t know what was going on, and I couldn’t push out or up however hard I tried.

I could however, see people watching me trapped, telling me not to panic, that help is on the way. They tried to distract me from focusing on my immediate situation. They tried to tell me that I would get out soon. They tried to tell me there were others in more destitute circumstances than me.

No use.

depression is like trapped under snow, suicide

I was trapped. I felt I was trapped. I felt there was no way out as the once beautiful snowflakes on my eyelashes solidified into boulders around me, against me. It became all dark, blindingly dark with the luminosity of the snow reflecting the sun. It stung my eyes.

Whatever anyone told me, my reality to myself was that I was trapped, and that there was no way out.

I was freezing, and it was excruciating. I was drenched in somber darkness, or is it brightness, and it just kept getting darker and deeper and darker and deeper and suddenly brighter and even more confusing. I couldn’t understand why I was stuck and why I couldn’t get out. I see the avalanche snowballing but there is no energy in my bones to run away. I couldn’t lift a finger.

I hated myself for tumbling down and getting stuck.

So the most appropriate thing to do then, in that trapped logic, was to die instead of going through the torture of confinement.

This is how it felt for me. Perhaps this is the reason why I developed some claustrophobic tendencies and do not enjoy small places, or large venues with crowds and little personal space. Crushed under, nowhere to go.

One can’t simply snap out from under 50 feet of snow.

It’s no joke.

Perhaps it was 12 months or more, till I slowly regained a bit of strength with my partner and my shrink, to help myself.

In a destitute form like this, only we can lift ourselves up, and out.

Today yes, today I still feel like this sometimes, mulling over why I even bother to write. What’s the point of it all. But at least, I now know it’s possible to get out of this snow box bit by bit, and manage the pain and ache I have inside.

It can be done. 



54 Responses

  1. Daniel Waters says:

    That’s a great explanation. It’s definitely a pain and an ache, that’s what people don’t realise. Its an ache that affects every part of your body. A list of symptoms can form part of a basic understanding for people around you, but it doesn’t convey the true feeling of it all. Only someone who has experienced it can truly know what you are going through. I often explain it by telling people to imagine someone who has run a marathon, whilst hunched over, laden with shopping, whilst feeling like they did when they were heartbroken. That feeling of helplessness mixed with anger, suffering and pain, and the desperate desire for it all to end. Unfortunately there is no definite finish line, only a hope that each day things will become more bearable than the last.

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Daniel

      Yup – that feeling of no finish line, dont know when this pain will all end… that’s the scary bit of the mood disorders I think, losing control, and not knowing when it will end. You say it so right!
      But hopefully, like me, you will find a day in the light amidst the darkness. Slowly we will find our way out… 🙂

      Noch NOch

  2. XC says:

    Dear Noch, I read your story on Tiny Budda and found that you are living in Beijing. Hugs. It’s good you are coming out of it. Maybe we are similar age too. A friend said when we are around 28, Satan returns. I was diagnosed Major Depression a couple years ago and relied on meds for a while. Indeed, I learnt a lot form the depression episode and wanted to get off the meds but failed 3 times. I left US and took a year for break. Now I’m living in Beijing for a job more inlined with my personal interest. Finally, I think I’m all good without the meds with the help of acupuncture and yoga. So best luck to you. Hugs with love! XC

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi XC

      Yes! I’m in Beijing too, and thanks for coming by after TIny Buddha. I’m turning 31 years old this year… wow, nearly 3 years since my first diagnosis. It sounds like such a long time, sometimes I wonder where has my years gone? I still worry I can’t get out of it sometimes or go back to “normal” life…
      BUt anyways, glad you are finding some solace and strength here in Beijing. What are you doing now?
      I also do acupuncture. I’m starting to see chiropractor for this too, seems some connection to the CNS, and maybe chiropractor can, if not fix, help our mood disorders. I’ll let you know how it goes. If you are interested drop me a note and I can give you the doctor’s details

      Take care, perhaps we will meet some day here

      Noch Noch

  3. Annie Andre says:

    Once again, you painted a vivid picture in my head. I can understand both how people can think “just snap out of it” and that undeniable feeling that you are stuck under 50 feet of snow.

    I’ve lived and done both. My depression came out of a situation but once i removed that situation or it was resolved, my depression went away. But i clearly remember that feeling of hopelessness, it was undeniable and took all my strength to fight. On my children carried me through it because without them i wouldn’t have cared.
    I also think i know why you thought you were alone. I can imagine that not many people publicly announce, “hey I’m depressed… A LOT”. But now that you are online, I’m so glad that you are finding that what you are going through is not isolated to you and you are not a weirdo.

    Hang in there and keep writing. I’m sure it must be really good for your soul. See you soon.. 🙂 xoxoxo

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Annie

      I’ve seen some photos of your children on your website, they are adorable! I’m so happy they are the source of strength of you…. thanks for sharing your stories here and on your website. I enjoy them a lot. And it gives me inspiration too. Sometimes I still feel so alone, but you are write, in this world of cyberspace, somehow, we are all connected and a feel a sense of closeness with people I’ve never met, knowing we go through similar challenges and mood swings. It helps half the batter to know we are not in it alone already

      I will keep writing! And I hope you will too 🙂
      Noch Noch

  4. The Vizier says:

    Hi Noch Noch,

    Indeed you are not alone on the sinking ship of depression. Depression, even major depression, is pretty common in this day and age. And our interconnectedness allows us to meet others who struggle with the same problem as well.

    Still you’re right when you say not everyone can empathize. It’s easy for people to give advice and to say you should snap out of it or change the way you think. But for someone who struggles against the dark void, such words are pretty useless. As you point out, depression is hell. It is like being trapped under 50 feet of snow, love the imagery btw. And I can empathize since I have been through it myself and had many of those symptoms.

    I am glad you had your partner and your shrink to get you through the worst part of your depression. Yes only we can lift ourselves out of our depression, but we must have a compelling reason to. I am sure you had your reason to crawl through 50 feet of snow to get out. Bit by bit, step by step, it can be done. It won’t happen overnight, but it can be done.

    Everything happens at its own time and place. Once we are ready, we will step out naturally. There is no rush and it is not wise to rush the process. At least, that was how it was for me.

    Thank you for sharing this honest and heartfelt article! 🙂

    Irving the Vizier

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Irving

      Good to hear from you again 🙂
      It’s kind of a tragically beautiful imagery isn’t it? I love snow. It’s so pristine and beautiful, shimmering white. But so suffocating too when too much of it around us. Indeed everything has its own time and place. I know I will come out of this when it’s all ready and my time has come. Perhaps there are much more lessons to learn from this and thats why I’m not completely out of this state yet. I will heed your advice 🙂

      Noch Noch

  5. Tony Applebaum says:

    Hi Noch,

    I actually found my way over to your blog from your Tiny Buddha Post, which I thought was wonderful.

    I too have Major Depression, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder to boot.

    I had a breakdown a little over three years ago. It has been a slow journey, but I am getting better, Although somedays, it feels like I will never get better.

    My worst times are generally in the morning. The feeling for me is one of drowning under a flood of water that ends up feeling like I am at the bottom of the ocean.

    I just wanted to let you know that I get it. People who don’t have a mood disorder just don’t, no matter how hard they try.

    Anyway thank you for your beautiful posts, and opening and sharing with the world. You are very courageous. Looking forward to keeping up with you.

    With love,

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Tony

      Thanks for coming over here after Tiny Buddha!

      Me too! mornings are difficult for me. I wake up and just feel like rotting underneath my covers forever. I get what you mean by that bottom of the ocean feeling… yeh, it’s a hard thing to empathize. I wish I can explain it better to others who don’t know what it feels like, but then again, i wouldn’t wish this on anyone else
      In a way though, being through this has helped me grown and realize a lot more about myself than I ever did.

      Thanks for coming by. I hope you continue to get better too, and on those days you feel like you will never get better, well, please remember on the other side of hte world I might be feeling the same. At least we are not alone 🙂

      Take care
      Noch Noch

  6. Hi Noch,

    I just wanted to say thank you for your posts!

    Your words stay with me and I have really appreciated it, especially at this moment in my life.

    The plates in my life recently shifted and it threw up a massive amount that I didn’t expect to ever have to deal with. I am currently dealing with the baggage that I was carrying around and didn’t know about until the last couple of months.

    Your blog has been a blessing at a time that I never knew was about to descend upon me.

    Thank You
    S x

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Samantha,

      You’re welcomed! And thank YOU for coming into my life and finding my blog. I’m sure there’s a reason we “meet” here. I hope with your life’s plates shifting, that with the challenges you confront, you find the strength within you to carry on. it’s great that you are aware of the changes, for awareness means you can act upon it. I was not aware, or rather, denied I had come up against a wall, and I think that’s part of the reason why I sunk so deeply. Today I’m better. Thanks for people like you who keep encouraging me
      I’m glad to hear my writing can comfort you. If even one person finds my blurbs a solace, I will keep writing for us.
      I hope you will come back.

      Take care
      Noch Noch

  7. Hi Noch, I do understand the 50 feet of snow metaphor. I wasn’t chronically depressed, though I did experience some major depression back in 2005. I had lost my job, gone through some big family transitions and moved to a new city (where I knew nobody). I was overwhelmed. It was a gigantic load on my shoulders and I was miserable. I let my family down in a lot of ways during that time. To this day, I’ll never forget that season. I did eventually “snap out of it” but it came more as a result of learning how to take charge of my thoughts instead of leaving them to autopilot. Great work!

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Bryan, thanks for coming by! I agree, we learn eventually to take charge of our thoughts instead of leaving them on autopilot as you say. what I found most scary was I had lost all control of my thoughts and myself during the worst of times, like I had become someone else. I couldn’t grasp that and was scared of what I had become. Eventually I learnt to dissociate myself from the “depressed” me, and slowly control came back… Thanks for sharing your story here too
      Noch Noch

  8. Justin Mazza says:

    Hi Noch,
    Congratulations on having a guest post on Tiny Buddha. I just went over there and left a comment.

  9. Vlad says:

    Here is the thing – this agony, the darkness, the weight… It chokes the mind, the thoughts, the body itself. Now I’m not an expert on depression. But there is one thing that I do know. You’re not your mind, you’re not your thoughts, you’re not your body.

    You’re so much more. Your essence is above the pain and the sorrow. It is limitless and eternal… Yes, the journey is tough, very tough. But ultimately the essence prevails.

    Thank you for the beautiful post!

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Vlad – you say it very well! “You’re not your mind, you’re not your thoughts, you’re not your body”…. it indeed feels like that, a whole loss of control…! But thanks for reminding me the essence will prevail. Sometimes it’s hard to carry on in those moments of darkness. Sometimes I just want to give up. Still a week doesn’t go by without me sinking into the vacuum but slowly, i can pull myself up again
      Your support is a comfort to me 🙂
      Noch Noch

  10. […] my depression, worrying actually became a threat to my mere existence. I’d have a thought in my head, that […]

  11. farouk says:

    that’s one tough experience
    thanks for sharing it with us
    glad you are fine

  12. […] I don’t want you to end up like me 14 years later, and I don’t want you to have to go through depression and suicide attempts like I did, because you felt you have let the whole world […]

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  14. […] my take on what NOT to say to someone in depression. Hopefully this can help you empathize where we weirdos are coming from, and for you to be more sensitive to our […]

  15. […] arm supporting me, my weary soul persevered on and I got into a taxi to go home. Home, where I hid under the blankets for the next few days to contemplate the incident. I was slightly angry I had not succeeded. But I […]

  16. […] I not gotten into depression three years ago, I might have still rediscovered all this one day. But now that I have gone down […]

  17. […] burn out in their employee population. It is a most elevating example of what one can do with their painful experience in depression. He also told me he had written a book about the experience – I caught on to this and fired him […]

  18. […] 我幫他度過了職業生涯中幾段比較困難的時期,而Timmie 照顧我,確保我能活下來,每天他都很溫柔地面對我的抑鬱。很多次我們都認為我們會分手,因為那對我們來說心理上難以承受。然而,每次一我們都設法打破了那個分手的魔咒。我們去做雙人心理治療和婚前心理諮詢,我們爭論,我們唇槍舌戰,我們開玩笑。我們甚至一起養了只小狗。 […]

  19. […] my worst days, I could not control my sobbing or hatred for the world. It was irrational, I know. My friends told me to get a grip and pull […]

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  21. srini says:


    nice hearing you after a month or so. congratulations. when will you show your marriage photos?

    have a great year ahead


  22. […] an article I wrote  a while back on why I think Generation Y and Millennial are more prone to depression and anxiety issues. My umbrella argument was that we lacked a purpose in life and was too used to instant […]

  23. […] glum and sullen, I forced myself out of the apartment to avoid going into a spiral down of depressed mood. So I went to a café to write more, as my coach suggested. A man and his assistant sat down on the […]

  24. Amy says:

    The big reason why many don’t understand is ’cause it’s inside us and they can’t see it. But we feel, see and sense it.

    • nochnoch says:

      Indeed so, and I write about it because it has also helped my friends understand what it is and the down their stereotypes. More communication and awareness is needed
      Noch Noch

  25. […] see me every now and then and think I am cheerful? Then why do I sit and cry for nothing on the days you do not see […]

  26. […] stuck under snow […]

  27. […] it not been depression, I might still be running on a treadmill aimlessly, going nowhere, and doing something I did not […]

  28. […] friend confided in me last week that her boyfriend is on the brink of depression. For a few weeks he did not want to get out of bed or do anything. He complained about the world, […]

  29. […] have been living in Beijing since June 2009. I worked a few months, then collapsed, then stopped working, then recovered slowly, relapsed, got better… and the cycle continues. I […]

  30. nameless says:

    thanks for the post, (it’s appreciated), and It’s great to see so many voices typed here too!

    Personally, I prefer the idea of hiding in an Igloo hut thingy. With Amenities!.. and i suppose a fishing hole to eliminate the biological need to have to leave.

    But that aside, “snap out of it”, reminds me of being told, your pathetic, or grow up (mums favorite lines), and is degrading in a way. Kind of blinds you from the fact that what your thinking is unhealthy. If its unhealthy, then its a concern for your health. And i guess any concerns regarding health should be addressed appropriately. Thus being told “snap out of it” is not appropriate for the infinite factors that come into play.

    Its funny though. You (me at least) always wonder how you ended up 6 foot under snow time and time again. Whether its triggered by factors in your control, and well, not in your controll.
    Hehe though touch wood, I’m hoping i can just knock this wall over and find a suitable path to walk.

    OK! hope every one is going strong and educating themselves, to reinforce them selves!

    Thankyou for the post MR snow man.

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Nameless

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts – i like the fish hole idea. Yes its a long process. Time and time again i relapse and want to give up but each time i tell myself i can get out from under snow at my own time in my own way. And i do 🙂

      Hope you are well too
      Noch Noch

  31. […] sat on a high stool at the front, and recounted the dark days of emotional pit […]

  32. 黑狗 says:


  33. […] factors. However, I will consolidate here some of the things that were said to me or done which relieved me of my pain, albeit […]

  34. […] sat on a high stool at the front, and recounted the dark days of emotional pit […]

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  38. […] I say someone is DEPRESSED, what comes to […]

  39. […] amusing way depression is depicted in his illustrations. Made me giggle a little even when I was stuck in my dark thoughts. I wrote to him once, never got a reply. But doesn’t matter, I think he’s received my little […]

  40. […] 一天,我的朋友問了我一個尖銳的問題。“諾,你正在逐漸擺脫抑鬱症,儘量讓自己不太勞累,釋放前幾年積累起來的壓力,那麼你現在為什麼還要寫博客和文章,給自己施壓呢?” […]

  41. […] 福布斯雜誌刊登了我最近寫的一篇文章,文章談了為什麼我認為Y世代(Generation Y)和千禧年前後出生的人更容易染上抑鬱和焦慮問題。我的進一步論據是,我們缺乏生活目標並且太習慣於得到即時滿足感。對這一現象,我給出了或許能夠讓我們避免踏入那種糟糕境地的建議,其中一個建議就是提升自我認知。 […]

about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.