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I sometimes imagine depression as pair of opaque lenses nailed directly to my face. Everything is about as clear as obsidian glass, the weight pulls at the skin, and my peripheral vision is narrowed, like I’m stuck in a coffin and can only see in a single direction.

What sucks is that you can’t just pry them off of your eye sockets, no matter how hard you try — short of taking a claw hammer to the skull.

Antidepressant medications are costly and not always successful, assuming you aren’t debilitated by the multitude of dreadful side-effects. And though therapy helps others, I’ve found that finding a therapist who can actually help remove those lenses is problematic and (of course) expensive.

“Just get over it,” I’ve been told on multiple occasions. And most of the time I do, pushing through the tasks of the day inundated by smog, trapped inside an askew reality no one else can see or experience but me.

And because those lenses cover the eyes, they insulate the mind: the genesis of thought, of consciousness, of the very decision-making process itself. Life becomes a vacuum, and depression thrives in isolation.

However, over the years I’ve learned to develop a healthy distance between myself and what I see and experience — an experience sometimes filtered through those irksome lenses.

Lenses that make a birthday celebration with friends feel about as cheerful as a funeral. What should be a nice drive into the mountains to reset mentally, becomes a monumentally overwhelming task void of meaning. Eating lunch becomes a pointless chore.

Then those feelings become incessant, lasting for weeks or months at a time, all while I’m frantically yanking at the lenses with cracked fingers, yearning to once again see just a patch of green grass or a sliver of blue sky — anything that would make me feel at least content.

I used to think that if I could isolate the cause, the reason those lenses were nailed to my face, I could somehow abate or even stop depression from turning the simple act of chewing and swallowing food into a miserable act of desperation to survive.

But no matter how I changed my circumstances — from getting a new job that was more fulfilling or removing toxic people from my life — those lenses would remain steadfast in front of my eyes.

And it’s those opaque lenses that are turning a birthday celebration into an open-casket reception, not a moldy cake or an obnoxious drunk at the party. That feeling of seclusion and despair would be there regardless of my surroundings (which can of course diminish or exacerbate depression).

I try to remind myself that these damn lenses are the cause of the distortion, affecting not only everything I see, but how I feel and experience the world around me. Digging that ditch between how I feel and why I feel makes managing my depression much more … well, manageable.