Mental Health

What Does Depression Look Like?

What does depression look like?

Earlier in the week I booked myself an appointment with my doctor, true to my one massive goal this year. I sat down with a very nice man I hadn’t ever met before and bawled my eyes out. In between sobbing, he asked me questions that I answered as honestly as I could. Eventually, I came away humiliated because I’d broken down so much and with a new prescription for antidepressant tablets called Sertaline (if you’re interested).

While I was looking up this new medication on Google, my sister made the comment that ‘you aren’t depressed, you’re fine’. To put her comments into better context, I’ve never fully shared with anyone what I feel –or lack there of. She neither understands what depression is nor does she know what goes on inside my head. That aspect of my illness, I prefer to keep to myself because of both the stigma attached to it and my fear of burdening someone I love with concerns for my wellbeing simply by sharing this information.

So what does depression look like? I typed ‘depression’ into Google Images. As you’d expect, what I found was entirely stereotypical imagery of the mainstream idea of what depression is. According to this search, being depressed in grey, covered in mascara tears and faking the smiles.

The top results of my Google Search

From my experience, this is both irritating and inaccurate. Depression isn’t easy to spot, due to the social stigma surrounding being mentally ill many individuals who actually suffer with depression learn techniques for hiding it well. I, personally, have mastered the art of burying those feelings so deep underneath a chirpy, cheery exterior that dances to music in her head and pulls stupid faces when someone isn’t look, I look like a happy, fully functioning human.

What does depression look like?

Depression is anyone around you. There’s no ‘look’ for depression, no one thing that you could pinpoint as what depression looks and behaves like. A lot of the time people learn ways of functioning while the storm rages out of sight in their minds. A lot of the time, like me, it’s buried and forced back into shadow.

Honestly speaking, I’m pretty sure some people in my life think I’ve faked my symptoms to try and gain sympathy etc. Which is fair enough, if you don’t know what depression is like for real, then you’re going to assume the happy-go-lucky one is faking.

We’ve been taught in all versions of media that depression is sitting in tears, not eating, dressing like a ‘goth’ –which has nothing to do with depression. So when confronted with the real thing, a human who isn’t sad, wearing dull colours and picking at their food thoughtfully, a lot of people have no fucking idea what they’re looking at.

Depression is numbing.

Personally, when I last checked in with myself, just ask yourself ‘how am I doing?’, I couldn’t find an answer. I guess I’m OK. But I can’t respond with any specific emotion, I’m not happy, I’m not sad, not angry, jealous, scared or really feeling anything.

I’m OK, still alive.

Hopefully these new tablets reawaken my life. I have huge, huge dreams of adventure and learning that I want to bring to life. For now though, I’m just OK. Just existing.

How are you doing?

Emma x


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