By Juliette Virzi
When you live with a health condition, oftentimes there are some unwanted or “embarrassing” symptoms you have to learn to live with. This can be especially true when you are struggling with depression.
Maybe you can’t remember the last time you showered, and dry shampoo just isn’t covering it up anymore. Maybe your laundry has piled up so much that just looking at it makes you exhausted. Or maybe your emotions feel out of your control, and you can’t stop them from coming out in the “wrong” way at the “wrong” time.
No matter what your experience of “embarrassing” depression symptoms looks like, we want you to know you aren’t alone. The only way we can break the shame and stigma surrounding “embarrassing” symptoms of depression is to talk about them, so we asked our mental health community to share one photo that shows an “embarrassing” part of depression they struggle with.
Before we begin, we want to preface by saying that feelings of embarrassment are very real, and like all feelings, are completely valid. But even though it’s natural to feel embarrassed sometimes, we want you to know it’s more than OK not to be OK and there is no shame in struggling with depression.
Here are the photos our community shared with us:
1. “This is me at least once a day usually. Never know what will be the cause that day. But this is the me no one sees. I’ve been living with anxiety and depression since middle school. I’m 26 now and still struggle this hard every day. Depression isn’t pretty.” — Kacey K.
2. “I used to go from just taking vitamins or minimal meds and now have to use a pill organizer that looks like this…” — Christa O.
3. “This picture was from my last panic attack… I was in my room. I don’t know how it comes, but I guess my mind wonders so far in advance about my studies, my classes, about my flight ticket, upcoming exams, my pending exams, missing classes and all. It started from the very basic, then it bombards me with those difficult thoughts processes.” — Ahmad Z.
4. “This is my bedroom. It has looked like this for as long as I can remember. I have clothes, dirty dishes, food trash, mail piled up. And I get anxiety just looking at this mess. But I don’t even know where to begin at this point when it comes to cleaning it up. I know I need to, but all I want to do is lay in bed watching ridiculous shows on Netflix. I’m so ashamed of my room. I don’t let anyone in.” — Ashlee H.
5. “This is a picture of me after a few days of a messed up sleep schedule, which has negatively affected my mood. My eyes are tired. I also can’t remember when I combed my hair last. I just throw it in a bun after I wash it. Hence the flyaways.” — Monica C.
6. “This is just a small part of my journal entry from the other day. I typically don’t open up much to people so I rely on writing my thoughts and feelings down. These types of feelings (written) are common for me and come on quite often.” — Christa O.
7. “This photo shows one third of the clean laundry sitting around in baskets because I don’t have the energy to put them away.” — Missie T.
8. “Skin chewing, very unkept hair (that takes two hours to brush out) and when I get overwhelmed and slip into a panic attack. (Which will make my face red and swollen for the whole next day, and I have to lie about why.) None of which I let people see/know about.” — Brittany H.
9. “The more depressed I get, the more cigarettes I need to get through the day.” — Liz C.
10. “My dark days are not putting on makeup, letting my hair become tangled together and keeping a smile to mask my pain.” — Lavoya M.
11. “After losing my house and mother’s pets… Shook me to the core, hit bottom trying to bounce back…” — Stuart R.
12. “[This picture] shows my kitchen when I’m depressed…” — Carter W.
13. “Greasy hair and all hope and happiness drained from my soul. Haven’t showered for over a week. Can’t get myself off the couch.” — Tara R.
14. “Being military and struggling with mental health is insanely hard. So much is expected of you, and by the end of the day, I’m so tired I can’t bear standing up for much longer. All I do is sleep, and the mess just keeps building…” — Ethan B.
15. “My dark days look like this — makeup all over my face from crying so much.” — Samantha G.
16. “I usually have a beard but I keep it quite tidy. Likewise I will go through periods where I grow my hair a bit but keep it in check. When I go through a dark phase though I have a habit of letting them get out of hand which, coupled with not enough sleep, leaves me looking exactly how I feel.” — Martin H.
17. “I have lived in this house for two years and this is all the ‘decorating’ I’ve been able to get done. I have beautiful things to put out but can’t seem to get the boxes unpacked.” — Becky B.
If you see yourself in these pictures, you are not alone. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, and letting go of that shame can be a first step in healing.
What would you say to someone who’s embarrassed of their depression symptoms? Tell us in the comments below.