Someone curled up in bed, hidden under the covers. Sunlight peeking in through the drawn curtains. Phone calls and voicemails ignored. Text messages unread. A dirty plate, and empty, coffee stained mug on the bedside table.
That sounds like fairly stereotypical depression, right? It is. The trouble is, not everyone with depression struggles like that.
What about the person who smiles, and chats happily to friends and family. Who cleans the house, keeps up with chores, and pays all the bills. The dishes are done, there’s food and leftovers from a home cooked meal in the fridge, and the fruit basket is full.
Is that person depressed? If that person is me, then right now, yes. It’s just so well hidden.
I smile and chat with family and friends because I adore them, but I also don’t want to burden them with my sucky (technical term!) mental health. I busily keep up with chores so I have less time to think about how much I detest myself, my life, and everything about me. Keeping busy keeps me safe. Leftovers in the fridge are from a meal I cooked when I felt like eating. I swing between having no appetite and comfort eating.
No one sees the tears that slip out when I’m finally alone, or on the way home from visiting friends and family.
No one sees the self-hatred, pain, hopelessness, and defeat that flood my mind when I finally stop doing chores.
No one sees the torment that fills my mind over needing to eat, having no food, then ordering groceries, and not wanting to eat.
I usually manage to function until I’m extremely depressed and suicidal. On the way down into that pit of doom very few people know or see that I’m struggling.
Not being able to see it doesn’t mean that I’m not depressed.
Not being able to see it doesn’t mean that I’m not struggling.
Depression looks like many things for many people. Ask before you pass judgement on whether someone is depressed, or how depressed they are.