This is what depression looks like. That woman in the middle who is smiling, who is just about to take a massive step in her freelance career, who’s working with a huge international brand who approached her.
This is what depression looks like.
It looks like the women sitting on a fence posing for a photo right after a full on fit of laughter about how ridiculous trying to pose casually is.
It looks like the woman in the red jumper who loves spending time with her friends and chatting for hours over brunch.
This is what depression looks like.
In my case it looks like a well dressed, well put together, head in the game woman.
I never thought I would be writing down and sharing with anyone that I’m dealing with depression but here I am and I’m in a good enough place to know that it’s really important I talk about it as the way I deal externally with depression may not be one that is often seen, but it’s just as real.
Depression isn’t always pjs and no make up, it isn’t always sunken eyes and tired skin. Sometimes it’s perfectly manicured nails, confident speakers, girls bosses. Don’t get me wrong, some days even leaving my bed is an accomplishment, but 90% of time time I carry on with life like nothing is wrong. Megs wrote a beautiful piece about the face of depression and I know it gave people so much reassurance that not being ok is 100% ok.
Whilst I cannot imagine that this post will do as Megs did, if it helps one person who is dealing with depression by carrying on with life as normal, then I will be glad I shared something so personal.
I’ve suffered from depression numerous times in my life, hugely so in my mid teens when I dealt with a series of deaths in my family and it raised it’s head again 4 years ago, 3 years after my dad passed away.
Grief is a mask, it’s a great scape goat, allows blame to be placed on something that you are sure will get better and pass. Which is one of the reasons that telling someone who is grieving that time is the greatest healer is just about the worst thing.
Whilst I take nothing away from people who openly deal with their depression, who wear their heart on their sleeve and use their social presence to share exactly how they are feeling, they are not the only ones who struggle. In fact sometimes it’s the ones who say nothing, give nothing away, who hurt the most.
Being an only child means I deal with things my own way and always have, I was brought up to be a strong, independent women and I value that greatly. However, as someone who prides *blindly at times* her ability to get on with life and never ask for help, dealing with depression has really challenged me, and those feelings.
Depression is the woman working all hours, being praised and lauded for how much she hustles to create a different kind of life. It’s the guy who goes to work, supports a family, plays with his kids and yet sits alone at times and wonders if he’ll ever feel anything other than meh.
Depression doesn’t always look like sad quotes on social media, or cries for help, sometimes it looks like the friend who will always be a shoulder for others to cry on whilst never talking of their own pain.
It looks like not eating properly in private yet enjoying socialising with friends over awesome food.
It looks like going to the gym and enjoying feeling strong.
It looks like sitting up at 2.35am on a random Thursday night writing 100s of words about what depression looks like in the hope that someone else reads it and says ‘yeah me too’.
It looks like the person who loves to travel alone and not because she has to but because she likes to, not because her depression singles her out, but because she won’t allow it to stop her loving life as much as she can.
It matters that I talk about this, because I know that others continue on with life and to the outside world look exactly the same despite dealing with a lot.
I’m proud of the people who share their emotional struggles, including depression loudly and without shame. I’m also proud of the people who silently keep putting one foot in front of the other.
However you deal with depression, grief, heartache…know that you are doing a great job and if you don’t want to break down and talk about it all the time that’s just fine. If you don’t want anyone in your life to know, that’s just fine but please make sure you have someone to talk to.
A professional if needs be, a loved one, a random person you met on the internet who just gets you.
Depression isn’t a one size fits all. I want you to know that however you deal with it, whatever depression looks like to you, you’re not alone.
If being in your pjs helps that’s exactly what you should do. But if what makes you feel in control is smiling for selfies and pushing yourself to carry on with life as normal that’s also entirely ok too.
In the words of A.A Mile…Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.