18 'Selfish' Things People Don't Realize You're Doing Because You're Depressed

Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

When you live with depression, you often become aware of the harmful and unfair labels given to those who are struggling. Labels like “lazy” or “attention-seeking” — or perhaps more commonly: “selfish.”

Maybe you cancel on plans because you’re struggling so much, you can’t even get out of bed. Maybe you don’t want to have kids, and your loved ones think you are depriving them. Or maybe your depression makes you unable to help out with household chores.

If you struggle with a “selfish” manifestation of depression, you’re not alone. The only way we can set the record straight about “selfish” things people do because of depression is to talk about it — because at the end of the day, these things aren’t really driven by being selfish. Sometimes we need to put ourselves first before we can be there for others, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

To open up this discussion, we asked our Mighty community to explain one “selfish” thing depression makes them do.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

  1. I stay in bed most of the day. I don’t do any chores when I know I should. Everything falls on my wife’s shoulders and people tell me to help her even when I’m depressed. They all see me as lazy when really I’m not. I just don’t have the energy.” — Kammi S.
  2. “For me it’s when I decide to not go out with family to events like parties or dinners with everyone. My parents always make up an excuse for me because they won’t let them know I’m just too depressed to go. My mom always makes me feel really guilty that I don’t go even though I can barely get out of bed.” — Tara R.
  3. I never initiate communication though I crave meaningful contact. When I do talk with my good friends, my illness always comes up. I’m sure some people see me making lame excuses for ignoring them and talking about myself.” — Sherry L.
  4. “Big one is when I say I don’t want kids. I can’t imagine being depressed and having no motivation to do anything and then having to take care of a tiny human who relies on you for everything! And I’d be scared of passing this and all my other health problems down. Also worried about struggling with postpartum depression.” — Allison M.
  5. “I feel like I turn every conversation about problems in life toward talking about myself. For example, when someone states a woe or problem they have that’s completely legitimate, I can empathize with them, but then in the next breath, I tell them about what my experience with that kind of struggle or problem is. I feel this comes across as me being selfish, self-centered and dismissing their problems in favor of turning the conversation on me. In reality, this behavior is either depression causing me to be self-absorbed, obsessing over problems which are not that terrible; or the comparison comes from an intense desire to let the other person know I have experienced something like that too, so that they know a little more about me and I have more credibility in their eyes.” — Jacinta M.
  6. “I’ve become unreliable. I’ll say I’m going to do something (with complete intention of doing so) and then not be able to get out of bed that day. Even for things I enjoy. Getting out of bed, showering, doing hair, getting dressed is an ordeal.” — Diana R.
  7. “I use almost every opportunity to remove myself from social situations. I hardly talk anyway, and that makes me feel bad enough.” — Caron H.
  8. “As much as I don’t like being alone sometimes, I cut certain people off. I just get exhausted of being around people, so I become reclusive. A couple of my friends scream at me and hate me for it, but it’s not their fault.” — Rhen L.
  9. “I don’t really reply to people, it takes hours or days to reply. I also tend to isolate a lot and the slightest activity can exhaust me so [much] sometimes it makes it hard to help out around the house. So I’m described as selfish or as lazy. But I just literally have zero energy.” — Sloane S.
  10. When my suicide attempts are frequent, it causes several people including friends and families to think I am just a selfish human being for [wanting to] escape life.” — Bas A.
  11. “Not talking to someone about something because that ‘something’ is triggering to me, so I will change the subject, leave or say, ‘We need to talk about something else.’ A lot of people don’t realize I’m only avoiding talking about whatever it is because I don’t need to go down into my depression further than I already am.” — Morgan L.
  12. “Go to the gym. People think I should spend every minute away from work with my son. I need to exercise to keep myself present and grounded.” — Lisa W.
  13. “Every time my fiancé confronts me about something, I break down in tears. He interprets this as me trying to make him feel guilty and make it all about me, when in reality, it’s because I hate myself for making him unhappy.” — Danja H.
  14. “When I hoard certain food I buy. They don’t understand why I get upset when they eat it. Sometimes you need chocolate to get through the crappy days.” — Amanda L.
  15. “It’s hard for me to get a job because of my depression. People could definitely see [it] as selfish that I don’t go to work.” — Hayden L.
  16. “Funnily enough: working freelance at home rather than working in the office. Some people just don’t get the pain of working in the office when you have a mental illness.” — Alva S.
  17. “I say no to going out a lot with friends. It’s not that I don’t want to [go], I just don’t feel like I would be any fun. I get guilt-tripped a lot when I say no.” — Phil R.
  18. “I become very irritable and distant. I don’t speak much when this happens and just won’t answer questions when being asked something.” — Rozana A.

If you’ve been accused of doing “selfish” things when you’re depressed, you’re not alone. There’s nothing wrong with putting yourself first, and it’s much easier to “step it up” for loved ones when you’re well. Help is out there.

Unsplash photo via Mag Pole

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