An illustration of a man sitting on his couch watching TV. Text reads: 26 habits of people with depression

26 'Habits' of People With Depression

While depression can be in some ways the absence of action, there are still little habits, little routines, a person may pick up on when they re-enter a depressive episode. These habits can be small indicators you’re beginning to feel depressed again. They can even be positive things — habits developed to help you survive. And because depression affects everyone differently, these little habits are different for everyone, too.

To find out what habits people developed when they were experiencing depression, we asked our mental health community to share one thing they do when they’re depressed.

Here’s what they told us:

1. “I turn into a hermit. I just want to stay in my home and not go anywhere or see anyone. It’s my safe haven, and I just don’t want to leave it.” — Deanne R.

2. “Avoid everything. I ignore my phone, skip appointments or plans, don’t leave my house, stop paying bills, try to avoid talking to anyone. I’ve totally screwed up my life this way –failed classes in college because I couldn’t leave my room.” — Sarah S.

3. “I pretend I’m tired and napping or sleeping so I can avoid people, but really I stay up all night with the thoughts in my head (or if I do sleep, I have nightmares). I barely eat but only eat empty calories and drink a lot more. I try to distract myself with empty crap like TV shows, social media or games just to avoid having to think about anything real.” — Sarah S.

4. “I wouldn’t say there are any habits involved other than obsessively trying to figure out why I’m in such agony, how long it will last and what the hell I’m going to do with myself to keep sane in the meantime while having no energy.” — Jennifer S.

5. “I not only isolate myself, but I let the voice in my head run rampant that tries to tell me I am not loved, life has no meaning and there are no reasons to try. I have dubbed this voice ‘The Glorp’ and try to personify it. I tell it to shut up every once and awhile.” — Sarah C.

6. “I just sit on one end of the sofa and watch TV. Favorite shows or series or random stuff. I can’t even get myself up to eat, shower or go to sleep. I can spend countless hours on that sofa, desperately trying to get some sort of strength from stories about other people’s lives, imaginary or not.” — Laura G.

7. “I sleep too much. And I drop every hobby I enjoy. I go home and lay on the sofa until someone feeds me. Then I lie there until I can drag myself to bed.” — Alexandra K.

8. “I write poetry and little story books for kids… I base stories off the happy times so the depression doesn’t take over.” — Amanda T.

9. “It’s less of what I do and more of what I don’t do. Usually I fight extreme insomnia, I work, I workout, I play with my dogs. When an severe major depressive episode creeps over me, I can’t do any of those things. I go from not sleeping to sleeping all the time. I shower maybe once a week. I avoid my friends, family, spouse, work, and anything that requires more effort than pulling the comforter back up over my shoulders. When I am awake I’m on Facebook or staring at the wall until I’m asleep again. I’m barely eating, barely talking to anyone and barley holding on.” — Melina A.

10. “I stay up all night to watch series or pull hair. I have trichotillomania. I can’t sleep until I’m exhausted. I eat less and feel tired all day, ‘forget’ to take a shower, pull more hair. If I absolutely have to go out I hide under a cap and hood.” — Elenor H.

11. “At its worst, I will sit in the shower for hours, numb, in the dark, even after the water has gone ice cold. When I finally do manage to get out, it’s sweats and being wrapped up in a big comforter, usually staring into space until I come around. Sometimes I can do this several times a day/night.” — Leslie G.

12. “Food tastes like cardboard. I start to eat less. Sometimes I would rather let my stomach growl for hours than get up and make something. Sometimes I drink a lot of liquids to stave off the hunger because I can’t bring myself to make something. Sometimes I use sleep the same way.” — Christal S.

13. “I have multiple chronic illnesses, so I see many different doctors. When I’m going through a depression, I tend to cancel all my appointments. I just don’t have the energy, nor do I care about my health when depressed.” — Meg G.

14. “I will completely isolate myself from everyone and everything. I also pick at myself until I’ve either left marks and scars. It’s a habit I struggle to control.” — Michelle S.

15. “I run. I’ve been a runner for years now, and how I run really reflects my mental state. Some days just getting up and doing a mile or two is enough for me to feel like I accomplished something…. staying active and releasing those endorphins really helps when I know I’m in a depressive cycle (bipolar).” — Steven W.

16. “I hide. I pull away from my friends and family, stop answering texts and phone calls. I don’t go out and do fun things with them. I do school, work and home, talking as little as possible but still smiling for everyone else. If anyone asks, I’m always just tired. I don’t specify why I’m tired or what I’m tired of. ” — Paige L.

17. “I procrastinate beyond logic. From doing chores, brushing teeth, bathing or even changing my clothes… I procrastinate everything that is on hand, no matter how dire the need… I just lie down and toy around with this phone.” — Shivani A.

18. “My taste in music changes when I’m having a significant struggle with depression. As a teenager my mom could always tell how I felt by the music I was listening to. Turns out, music is also a powerful tool in helping me out of the pit of depression as well.” — Desiree N.

19. “I have days when I can’t ‘people.’ I can still get around just as long as I don’t have to interact with humans. I can put my headphones on and still appear to be functioning when I’m actually not, just as long as I don’t have to speak to anyone or make eye contact.” — Gillian W.

20. “I get into the habit of taking long multiple showers every day, up to three when I’m bad. The sound of the water is relaxing and helps me chill and find balance. The sound also gives me something relaxing to concentrate on.” — Leanne M.

21. “I clean everything. It’s a distraction and when I have something to focus on, I’m less likely to be caught up in my negative thoughts.” — Rachel M.

22. “I buy food and stop cooking at home because I don’t have enough energy. But, it makes my mood worse because my brain criticizes my excessive spending and eating of unhealthy foods.” — Joy L.

23. “I tend to push people away. But I do it so hatefully that half the time people believe I am angry at them instead of depressed. It makes it very hard to have my spouses/friends/family help me when all I do is ask to be left alone.” — Miranda E.

24. “Eating nothing but cereal. I don’t have the energy to make anything else. And when I do eat something with actual substance, I binge on it.” — Jamie H.

25. “Sugar, sugar, sugar…” — Noel R.

26. “I’m rather snuggly. I’m very grounded by contact. I’ll randomly hug friends or family members, or snuggle with my rabbit, and if there’s a baby around I’ll hold it for as long as I can. There’s just something about the warmth of another living thing nearby that is calming and peaceful.” – Mikayla A.

What would you add?

26 “Habits” of People With Depression


Siblings sitting on the beach, looking at the water

When Guilt Meets Depression After the Death of a Sibling

Life is really weird sometimes. As someone who has depression, I’ve been saying that since 2008 when I was diagnosed. However, after my original battle with self-harm, I felt like life was going pretty well. It wasn’t great by any means, but it wasn’t bad either. Everything was manageable. Then, the year of 2015 began to draw to a close, and everything changed for me.

In September of 2015, my older brother, Patrik was diagnosed with stomach cancer. I love the medical field, so I immediately put my trust in the doctors at the cancer center where he would be receiving his treatment. Patrik was a healthy 24-year-old man. I didn’t have any reason to believe he wouldn’t beat cancer. It was just a minor roadblock in his life. That’s how the entire family viewed it. My grandparents are super religious, so they began to pray about it. I’m the exact opposite, so I just trusted what the doctors were telling us.

It turned out that what they weren’t telling us was the problem. No one ever mentioned to us that Patrik was Stage IV from the moment he was diagnosed. We didn’t find that out until right before the doctors told us there was nothing more that could be done for him. Hearing a medical professional tell you there’s nothing they can do for your brother is probably like being punched in the gut and kicked in the temple at the same time. I don’t remember how I responded. I probably didn’t respond, to be quite honest. I went into a state of shock.

Once the shock wore off, I realized something. My brother was going to die. There was nothing anyone could do to save his life. That thought sent me into a complete stage of denial. Maybe the doctors were wrong. Maybe we needed to go somewhere else.

On March 16, 2016, Patrik passed away. That day is burned into my mind so well I would swear to you it happened yesterday. In that moment, my life stopped. It was completely over. How was I supposed to continue living without my big brother? He was my best friend. I wanted to believe I was dreaming, and I probably would have believed that if it wasn’t for the fact that I sat in a funeral and stood next to a hole as we laid him to rest. It was real life. This was really happening, and there was nothing I could do about it.

Enter the depression. It was like a painful reminder that I was human, but it was also a desire to be with my brother. I didn’t want to imagine what life would be like without Patrik, and I didn’t want to go through any of it. I just wanted to wake up and be with him. That’s what I told myself every night. If I don’t wake up tomorrow, it’s fine. I’ll be with Patrik. Obviously, that wasn’t in the cards for me because I continued to wake up in the morning, and I was guilty about it. I didn’t want to wake up and live my life because Patrik couldn’t wake up and live his.

It’s hard to explain the amount of guilt and anger I hold towards myself. There are situations when I will crack a genuine smile, and then I’m so guilty I’ve done it. I don’t want to have a moment of happiness if there’s no Patrik to have it with me. That’s not fair to myself, and I know it’s not what Patrik wants for me. Yet, every night, I repeat that same thought over and over. If you don’t wake up tomorrow, that’s OK. I’m not actively looking for a way to be with Patrik. Not to say that the thought doesn’t cross my mind. It has crossed my mind, and it will probably cross my mind for the rest of my life. However, I’m not trying to kill myself on the daily basis. I just don’t care if I don’t wake up.

The guilt continues to eat at my mind every day. I have to remind myself that it’s OK to smile and be happy when I’m with my friends. These are things Patrik would expect out of me. The guilty, depressed side of my mind doesn’t see that. Maybe I’m afraid of the future, and I have every right to be afraid. I’ve never been afraid of dying. It’s the thought of dying young that scares me. I used to think that we were immune to these things. I’m 22. It’s not something I should have to think about, and yet, every day, it’s the first thing I think about when I wake up.

I won’t tell you that I know how to make it easier because I don’t. This is a road I’ve never had to travel on before. I will tell you that you will make it through it. It will hurt, and your mind will be really rough with you. I tell myself that it can’t be this bad forever, and that’s probably true. It can’t be like this forever, but it can be like this for a long time. During this long time, I’ve done my best to surround myself with friends and family who care about me. Not everyone knows how bad my depression actually is, but having people around you who care does make it hurt a little less.

If you’ve been through something like this or you’re going through it now, I want you to know how sorry I am. If nothing else, I have been where you are, and I can tell you from experience how hard it is. Fight every day. The sun will come up tomorrow, even if you don’t want to be there to see it. In my case, that sun is Patrik. He’s reminding me every day that it’s OK. Even if I don’t see it now, it will be OK one day.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via JackF

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3 Lessons I Never Expected Depression to Teach Me

It is only now, months after having experienced one of the most mentally and physically challenging battles I have yet to fight, that I have finally come to realize all depression has taught me about who I am and who I wish to be. It’s strange to imagine that such a bleak and what felt like a seemingly endless period in my life could have brought with it a single positive note. What could I have possibly gained from months and months of misery and self-loathing? Much more than I realized, in fact.

#1. Depression taught me how to be stand on my own two feet.

Before I had ever faced depression I had been what some would describe as something of a social butterfly. I surrounded myself with people constantly, loved the endless chatter. I even began to enjoy the false pretense I had created to hide my anxiety from the rest of the world and eventually even from myself. People were sort of like white noise — no matter what they said, at least the sounds of their voices kept me company and gave me a distraction from myself. Other people’s worries helped me avoid thinking about my own, until mine suddenly felt worthless. I easily forgot the big void in myself.

When depression struck, I no longer had the energy to put on such an effective façade. Eventually I pushed them all away, I was tired of being a best friend, an agony aunt, a personal problem solver, when I was drowning in my own problems. Finally came some silence. But I guess nothing is ever that simple. I didn’t realize until then what solitude was and that it felt so lonely. I didn’t realize how reliant I was on everyone else’s presence in my life to make me feel complete. I wasn’t lonely because I longed for the friendships I’d lost; I was lonely because I longed for something to plaster up the whole inside me that I couldn’t seem to fix myself.

Being completely detached from friends and family, I became an alien in a world I thought I knew so well. Now I sort of have a newfound gratitude for those around me and all the things they bring to my life, even the bad things because I am constantly learning from it all. Most importantly I am growing as a person. What this sort of major period of silence also taught me was that I was strong enough to survive by myself. I could and had to stand on my own two feet. I finally found my voice. And that wasn’t the voice that strained to always be the loudest in a room full of people. It was that little voice within me aching to be listened to. The voice inside I’d shunned because it spoke the truth. It told me my fears, faults, doubts and what I was truly feeling, not what I wanted to feel. For so long I had tried to be the person I thought everyone wanted me to be, that I wanted so desperately to be, that I began to doubt myself and who I really was. I had always told myself I had to be fearless and that anything else was a sign of weakness. The truth was, I hadn’t lived a day in which I wasn’t consumed by anxiety. Now I realized it was time to fix myself, instead of trying to fix everyone else.

#2. Depression taught me I’m not the only one.

Depression can be such a strange, bewildering trance. You appear no different from normal on the outside, but on the inside you feel completely detached from reality. It’s almost as if you’re being isolated in the confines of your own personal prison cell within the darkest corners of your mind. You had heard of people with depression, but you never believed you’d be one of them. You didn’t even understand what depression really entailed. You just knew now you didn’t feel like you used to. You suddenly lost any feeling towards anything. Things you thought you enjoyed lacked any worth now, any sort of human contact felt useless and even food didn’t seem to taste the way it used to. What you also didn’t know was that there were thousands, maybe even millions of other people just like you, sat in their rooms silently but internally screaming at the world for answers.

I was never alone, I just didn’t realize it. Although our battles all differ in some way, we are still facing a seemingly long and never-ending journey to a place we never planned to venture to. Depression, a journey? I guess the vast majority of the time it’s more like floating in space, your lungs exploding in your chest as you desperately try to exhale the air that isn’t even there. If it’s a journey, then it feels like being thrown into oblivion, thinking as you’re shrouded by darkness that no light could ever penetrate it. Then you realize one day to get out of this place you have to be your own damn light and wade your way through the darkness until you reach the other side, wherever that place may be. We all had to make the decision to be our own saviors. We never chose this journey, and we never chose where it would lead us. All we chose was to conquer.

#3. Depression taught me it’s OK to not be OK.

While struggling with depression I received weekly counseling. Turning up to the first session, however pessimistic I was at first, was probably one of the best decisions I ever made. There were endless things I came away with after the 13 weeks with my counselor. The main thing which I remind myself of every day is that it is OK to feel weak. Before counseling I had always had this somewhat deluded idea that I had to always be strong. I convinced myself I wasn’t allowed to be sad, that my problems weren’t of importance and that I shouldn’t inflict them on others. I believed the anxiety I’d had since I was a small child was my own selfishness. Even counseling felt like self-indulgence. I learned through much convincing that I wasn’t expected to be strong all of the time. I was allowed, like any human being, to be unhappy, fearful, needing of love and affection. My mental illness by far felt like my greatest weakness. Now both depression and anxiety are simply a part of who I am. Perhaps my brain was wired wrong, but I can’t change the big lump of grey matter sat in my skull. I can only change my mindset. It’s the biggest struggle I have ever had to face. Each day is a continuous battle, but I always seem to win. There remains such a great stigma around mental health. I guess it’s not the entirety of the world, but there still remains too many people ignorant to mental illness. We will all one day, in some form, be affected by mental health issues. We might as well begin to start viewing it as less of a weakness and more of a challenge that people, no matter who they are, face on a daily basis, and above all, as a battle we can all win.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Images Copyright: Kat and Steve Smith |

Why the Truth Behind My Smile Would Shock Most People

I read an article recently about “perfectly hidden depression.” The author’s way of describing hidden depression was very enlightening. While I have been so grateful I can be an amazing actress and hide it so well, I’ve always wanted someone to look deeply at me and say, “I know you aren’t OK.” I want people to look past the mask and see the signs. I know they are there, I can’t hide everything.

I always thought it would shock most people (my husband being the exception) if I finally gave up and let my depression win. I’m the “put together” one, the nurturing one, the one who helps everyone and anyone — and that is how I like it! How could anyone be expected to see inside I was experiencing such dark emotions? Who could blame them?

The photo with this post was taken a couple of days before I was admitted to a mental health hospital for two weeks because of suicidal ideation and the need to get my medication managed. The smiling and bubbly surface I show the the world is so different to what is often happening on the inside.

Even when I asked for help with my depression, no one I knew seemed to believe I really needed it. Some just brushed my request for support aside and told me of others it would be good for me to help because they were struggling. They didn’t mean harm. At the end of the day, I am sure they just felt I was having a bad week or two and knew normally I would be one of the first to put my hand up and offer to support someone who was downhearted.

I am so very thankful to have my dear husband and my doctor in my corner, two good men who I trust and know can see through the sometimes fake smile. They don’t brush aside my feelings when I tell them I am struggling, no matter the reason. This husband of mine who is supportive and kind is worth his weight in gold. He is my rock, my reason for getting through each hour. I also now know a psychiatrist who is friendly and caring is invaluable to me. This came as a big shock after years of believing I would never need or want help from a doctor.

I am also very thankful for my very select and small group of friends in my inner circle. They do care deeply and are always there to listen and ask if I am safe. On the really hard days, having someone tell you they will miss you and asking if you need them to come and sit with you so you are safe, gives you something to cling to.

Just because my depression is perfectly hidden doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist unfortunately. It is not a case of “out of sight, out of mind.” Maybe it is even a worse kind of depression, because there is no easy help, no outpouring of sympathy, most of all the support you need to survive this disorder is missing. It is missing because we hide our illness so well, afraid to burden others or to show ourselves as vulnerable. Those of us with a hidden depression spend so much energy pretending to be OK that even when we beg for help, no one believes it.

It is exhausting, it is lonely, it is dangerous.

No matter how small your group is, even if it is just one or two people, try to let your mask down just for a little bit, show them your raw feelings and let them show you that you can be loved even when you are not your smiling, perfectly put together person you work so hard to show the rest of the world.

This post originally appeared on The Art of Broken.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Photo via contributor.

image capture of comic that shows a pill bottle and a girl, text reads "losing more pieces of myself to the feeling of numbness."

Tumblr Artist Sam Wilman Creates Comic About Living With Depression

Sam Wilman wasn’t planning on illustrating what living with depression is like for her class assignment, but, in the midst of a depressive episode, drawing her life experiences seemed to make the most sense to the 19-year-old.

“As I began to plan this comic, I was already in a bad state of mind, drifting in and out of productive sessions until I was at the night before my deadline and forced to finish it,” Wilman, who studies animation at the University of Hertsfordshire in the U.K., told The Mighty. “This comic was a visual representation of how my life at college was progressing, and as of now still ongoing, as the comic reflects.”

Comic featuring a girl in a yellow sweater and white dress. Panes say "I had aspirations," "Everyone believed I would be successful," "Somewhere along the way."

Wilman took the assignment, to draw a 6 to 12 page comic showing narrative and character design, and used it to show what living with depression can look like. “I always used to struggle to explain my depression to friends and family in a way that people without it could comprehend,” she said. “I’d attempted to explain it before in poems I used to write back when I was doing my Creative Writing A Level, but the closest I got was likening it to an ocean.”

Like her poetry comparing depression to an ocean, Wilman’s comic also makes use of oceanic references, comparing depression to drowning in a black tide.

[Depression is] entirely the feeling of being submerged in water, like when you’re a child in a swimming pool, and ducking your head beneath the water mutes everything going on above the surface. It’s peaceful, and weightless, but you have to resurface at some point. Your lungs may get bigger over the months, and it gets more and more familiar to hide under the progressively rough waves collecting above, but your body will always tell you to resurface.

The comic’s title, “Pâro,” also references Wilman’s experience of depression. The word, which was created by writer-artist John Koenig, describes the feeling that no matter what you do, it is always somehow wrong.

Keeping with the reality of living with depression, Wilman chose to end her comic on a darker note. “I couldn’t bring myself to write about a happy ending when I haven’t yet found one myself,” she noted. “I could’ve closed with death or with some ominous ending but that seemed too obvious, since most people seem to link with depression is death, and purely just death, not the struggle. I found it more upsetting to state the actuality of depression, where most struggle with their own thoughts for months or years without finding comfort or resolution.”

Wilman said she hasn’t received a grade for her assignment yet, but has heard from others on Tumblr, where she shared the comic, that they can relate. “I, myself, hope that I, and others that have commented that they feel similarly, find some sort of purpose to carry on,” she added.

You can view more of Wilman’s artwork on her Tumblr

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

illustration of women long hair style, women face on white background, vector

Why It's Hard to Be Kind to My Past Self's Mental Health Struggles

As a person who struggles with both perfectionism and depression, I’m not very good at being kind to myself. I speak to myself in ways I never would to another person and I’m pretty great at beating myself up for basically any offense, big, small, real or imagined.

I’m getting better at this, but I’ve realized I struggle a lot with being kind to the person I was in the past. One of the ironies of working through your mental health issues is it can honestly be kind of depressing. Yes, you’re learning how to correct your faulty thinking patterns and tendencies and where they came from and it makes your life going forward much better. But that doesn’t change the fact a lot of hard things happened in the past, things that maybe could have been avoided if you knew then what you know now.

For example, I’ve learned I can be extremely codependent, denying my own legitimate needs in an unhealthy way because I feel responsible for other people’s happiness. When I look back at my life now, I can see far too many decisions I made that were influenced by this tendency. These choices usually made me unhappy, but at the time, I was OK with it because I thought it was the right thing to do. I thought I was being a good Christian by putting other’s needs ahead of my own, but really, I was acting like I didn’t matter as a person.

It’s painful to realize this, especially because the unhealthiness of it all seems so obvious to me now. How could I have been so ignorant? Why did I waste so much time doing things I hated when it was completely unnecessary? How much happier could I have been then and how much less regret would I have now, if I hadn’t been influenced by those wrong thought patterns? I feel the loss of what could have been and it makes me really sad. And then I feel angry because feeling sad stinks and I’m being forced to experience sadness when it could have been prevented. It’s hard.

Feeling this sadness and anger is normal and even healthy, I think. But what isn’t healthy is when I go a step too far and chew out my past self for messing up. Instead of showing my past self grace and compassion for struggling for legitimate reasons, I feel shame and blame myself for not handling things perfectly. (Not that we can ever do anything perfectly anyway, but that’s the perfectionism talking.)

What I’m trying to do now is be kind to who I was and respect the choices I made in the past, even those that were influenced by poor mental health and caused me unnecessary pain. Even though I disagree with them now and wish I had done things differently, those decisions seemed like the right ones at the time. I was doing the best I could with what I had and fortunately, I have a lot more now.

I can also acknowledge the bravery it takes to face the hard realities of the past, precisely because it entails feeling regret, sadness and anger. And finally, it forces me to deal with the fact my feelings of sadness and anger probably wouldn’t be so intense if I wasn’t such a perfectionist who thinks that my life has to be perfect to be any good. It’s like the fun never ends! But I’ll try to break the cycle. Instead of beating myself up for being a perfectionist, I’ll try to be kind to myself instead. Baby steps.

This post originally appeared on The Beautiful Place blog.

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