What I Mean When I Say, 'I'm Not a Person Today' as Someone With Depression


You see people like me on the street or in the store, and you wouldn’t look twice. My face is blank and void of expression. Anyone would assume I’m lost in thought, but if we lock eyes, I’ll smile. That smile? It’s a habit. It tells the world, “Hi, I’m OK.” Sometimes it’s genuine, and sometimes it’s a lie. Sometimes I can hide things pretty well, so you can’t tell whether I’m having a good day or whether I’m screaming inside.

But once in a while, I change things up. I don’t have the energy to fake it, so I tell the truth. I expose myself, show my vulnerability and open my heart up to judgment and pity. Sometimes I’ll tell you, “I’m not a person today.” If I say this to you, it means one of two things.

1. I trust you and feel safe being honest with you.

or 

2. I’m too low to care what I say or what anyone thinks of me and I’m desperately looking for some comfort.

Anyway, when I say “I’m not a person today,” I mean I’ve been in pain for too long and it’s all drained out of me. I’m numb. I have no motivation to do anything. I don’t have the energy to cook or clean or take care of myself. If anyone tries to talk to me, I’ll be awkward and clueless on how to respond. I’ll smile that sad smile that doesn’t reach my eyes.

It means, I’ve gotten so low that I don’t know how to get out. I don’t care about getting out. I don’t care about anything. I might even be wondering what it would be like to not be here anymore.

When I say “I’m not a person today,” it means I need help. I need a hug, a kind word, a coffee, anything that might wake me up and remind me that I’ve got emotions, I’ve got worth and I am capable of pulling myself out of what I’m going through.

I need someone to tell me, “It’s OK. Take the day off. You can be a person again tomorrow. Today, let me help you remember how.”

Of course, I’m not saying this for anyone reading this who may happen to personally know me. This is something that many — if not all — of us with depression go through. We might just word things differently.

“I’m not OK today.”

“I’m not feeling well.”

“I’m just tired.”

“I just can’t.”

Depression can take the best out of us and leave nothing but an empty shell. It takes a lot to open up to someone about it, even if it’s just a simple statement like this. If someone you love struggles with depression, pay attention to the details. Watch their smiles to find which are real and which they are hiding behind. Watch their posture, their ability to communicate, their hygiene habits. Watch how they act when they think no one is looking. And learn which phrase they use that means, “I’m not a person today.”

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.

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Unsplash photo via Hai Phung


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