The Truth Is, Mild Depression Feels Like You’re Piling Rocks

Abby Cheval
2 min readApr 6, 2021

And not the smooth, flat ones that are easy to balance. But the jagged, uneven rocks that are wobbly and difficult to stabilize.

A picture of standing stones known as cairns.
An old photo: Author.

It’s like building a cairn. Someone takes hours to construct those standing stones with the quietest patience. Every step takes so much effort, but the slightest mistake can make it all come down. And moderate to severe depression waiting to take over. This is what mild depression feels like to me.

But building while struggling with mild depression shouldn’t always have to feel like this.

Cairns are beautiful when they’re finished. They sit in raw, imperfect form and they look amazing. You wonder, “How is it doing that? How’s it still standing?” But it took a lot of effort and probably a lot of fallen stones to get it there. And you appreciate it more for how much more difficult it took to create.

I feel like that’s all of us when we go through our struggles. We don’t know what we’ll end up with but it takes so much. To end up still janky but deep down feeling okay, you’ll be better for making it through in the end.

At least, that’s what we hope.

So in the meantime, don’t give in to what can happen if you screw up. Don’t give in to what can happen if you pick the wrong stones. And don’t give in to what can happen if all the stones fall. If you have to start over, start over. If you have to keep piling, keep piling. Concentrate on the building. Take your time. Because I’m right there with you, still trying to pile my own stones.



Abby Cheval

Millennial, noncommittal romantic, walking the tightrope between hope and depression. Sounds like you too? I’ll write something for both of us.