What Does Depression Look Like?

Depression is a tricky illness. It is different for many people and everyone who suffers from depression has got it from their own traumatic life experiences, or from genetics as it is hereditary. Someone else’s depression may not look the same as yours nor should you judge them or put them down if their trauma is not as rough or harsh as what you have experienced. I come from a life of child abuse, mental abuse, neglection, and losing the two most important people in my life at an age where I was starting to understand what I had been through. I put myself in situations that ended up very bad, I had a child at the age of 17 and then he was adopted and that did not go as I had planned. This all had part in how I became diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

Photo by Volkan Olmez

This post is to help others be aware and pay attention to their loved ones. Someone you love may be suffering from depression and you may have no idea because the signs can seem like average normal people feelings and actions. This is not to say all of these signs mean someone has depression but please don’t let someone fool you with looking fine because they may be battling something inside of themselves that you are not aware of. I am not a medical professional but I have experienced 17 years of depression and no one ever really knew. I hid it well but I shouldn’t have because depression can be a very scary thing since you aren’t really in control of your own mind. Please read through and understand any one of these can be a sign that someone is battling with depression.

Depression looks like:

  1. Smiling all the time because you’re scared people are going to know something and won’t want to be your friend or get to know you based on what they think they already know
  2. Being shy and nervous because things have always been overwhelming or have been too much to handle so you hide behind this curtain to protect yourself
  3. Caring too much about everyone else because no one ever really cared about you or knew you needed them to.
  4. Keeping busy so you don’t have any free time to think about where your mind wanders when you are alone and in your thoughts.
  5. Laying in bed for hours, maybe days because your body and mind feel so exhausted and everything seems like too much and you just can’t seem to move. Your legs, arms, or entire body may feel like dead weight that you can’t pick up.
  6. Depriving yourself of sleep because you’re scared of what you might dream of or who may creep up in your thoughts or dreams, you’ll probably fall asleep watching something cute or funny to try and avoid these thoughts and dreams.
  7. Unable to care for yourself because everything just feels like it’s too much to do. Showering feels like hard work, cooking just sounds terrible, and getting dressed feels like trapping yourself in something you don’t want to wear right now just to feel like you look better than you really feel.
  8. Acting, or playing the role, of being social as if you want to do things with your friends but will most likely bail or cancel last minute or make an excuse as to why you can’t because some days your depression will hit harder than a brick wall being swung into your face like a wrecking ball.
  9. Disappearing for days/weeks/months at a time. Your thoughts pile on and the pain or sadness gets worse and the worse it gets the deeper you feel you are. Sometimes when you close your eyes you can literally see yourself in the cradle position in the bottom of a dark pit. *THAT’S HOW REAL THIS IS! and in these times you just can’t face anyone so you isolate yourself.
  10. Spacing out because you get lost in a trance thinking what it would feel like to drive off road into traffic, drinking a little too much and then some more, walking off a ledge of a cliff, etc.. Not wanting to die but wondering what it would be like.
  11. Wearing long sleeves, hoodies, pants all YEAR long most likely because you are attempting self harm or actually acting on it such as cutting yourself, burning yourself purposefully, staying under water longer than you should, etc.. just to feel the pain.
  12. Crying for everything and nothing because you hold it in the rest of the time and sometimes it get too much to hold in so you cry about the slightest things to just let it out and because you just can’t hold it in.
  13. Trying to destroy your own relationships because you don’t feel like you deserve them or are worthy enough. You feel like it is more than likely going to end bad just like in the past so why not just ruin it yourself, it might hurt less right?
  14. Getting addicted to shopping, writing, having sex, drugs, working, etc.. because, whatever it is, it makes you happy and so you need it excessively to forget about how you really feel.
  15. Losing/Gaining weight, or having fluctuating weight, do to over eating or not eating at all depending on how you cope with depression.
  16. Always apologizing because you feel at fault for everything that has happened to you. You blame yourself for the trauma you’ve endured and therefore anything that goes wrong you feel at fault for or you feel obligated to apologize even when you truly are not at fault.
  17. Triggered by people’s actions or words because someone from your past or something from your past that hurt you is related to that action or word or whatever it may be.
  18. Never says “NO” because “no” is not a word that anyone has ever respected in your life. If anything “no” has got you into more trouble in your life than any other word. This has caused you to be used, abused, taken advantage of, or mistreated. Even when you want to say no it just doesn’t exist in your vocabulary. It ran away from your tongue a long time ago.
  19. Gets irritated easily because they keep things bottled up and have no where to release those feelings so it ends up coming out as anger towards loved ones because you feel safest with them and even though they don’t deserve it, you can’t help but explode at them because you are too afraid or just simply can’t let out everything you hold inside in any other manner.
  20. Being negative because everything has always ended badly so you are used to bad things happening so that is what your mind instantly goes to for every situation. You can’t help but feel like everything will have a negative outcome because it always has.

Like I advised previously, I am NOT a medical professional, but these are signs I, myself, and loved ones close to me have shown when we are battling depression. It is an illness. It is not short-term like sadness, it is not an act of wanting attention (maybe needing attention for someone to save us), it is not a choice. So, when people say things like “Calm down” or “Don’t overreact” or “You’re just being dramatic” it DOES NOT help. It may actually make things worse. When someone opens up to you don’t brush them off or take it lightly. Most likely, they are opening up to you or trying to talk to you because YOU make them feel safe. It took my husband years to pinpoint my signs and determine how bad my depression was at certain times in our relationship and because he learned, he was able to help me cope better.

Depression is a touchy subject because those that have it will even put down others who have it because someone else’s reason for having depression is not valid in their eyes because they have had it “worse,” but that is not how it should be. If you suffer from depression you should be welcoming and want to help someone else suffering because you know how hard it can be to deal with. But, by all means that does not mean go and try playing “Superhero” because you’re mental health is important and taking on someone else’s pain will be hard on you. Please be caustious and don’t try to overwork yourself with trying to help everyone else because your health comes first. Even if that means you need to step back and breathe for a little while to work on yourself. There will still be someone who will need you when you are in a better place within yourself first.

Photo by Dan Meyers

I wanted to write about this because depression has been a demon haunting my life for almost my entire life. I was first diagnosed at 7 or 8 years old after when I testified against my own father in court sentencing him to 127 years and then some.. I’ve had a rough life, not to say my life has been any harder than anyone else’s or that someone else hasn’t had as hard of a life as I have. However, the fact of the matter is I went through A LOT and from it I suffered for years. Damaging my relationships and harming myself and causing myself pain because I suffered in silence. I am happy now and although I know my battle with depression is never over, I now know how to cope, and I will be able to win the battle against depression whenever it starts to arise.

Please seek professional help as well. Some may not want to hear this because they have had there go with too many WRONG medical professionals but I promise you have to keep looking. You WILL find someone that will understand what you need to heal and the type of coping strategies that work for you. They will know how to talk to you. I have been seeing medical professionals since I was young and it wasn’t until I was 24 that I found someone who was amazing and helped me tremendously with what I allowed her to which leads me to say… LET IT ALL OUT! Don’t just share what you want to, share everything so they know exactly how to help you!

And please, if you ever feel alone remember,

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

If you ever need to talk or feel alone please feel free to reach out to me. I’d love to be a support person for anyone who needs help battling depression. Click the icon below to email me directly!

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Photo by Natalia Y

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A writer from Sacramento, Ca who has endured far more heartache than ever anticipated. The pain was transformed into art where hands would write about the things the mouth could not speak of or the emotions that could not be expressed any other way.

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