What Depression Really 'Looks' Like


Staring in the mirror thinking, “Who is she?”

She’s got a few too many knots in her hair, her eyeshadow is creasing, her mascara smudging the skin below her eyes. I swear I’ve seen her wear that sweater every day for the past who-even-knows-how-long. Her white shirt is wrinkled and coffee stained because she hardly has the energy to do a simple load of laundry. She’s wearing the same leggings she worked and slept in because as soon as she strips away that comfort, she falls apart again. Maybe she’ll wash her sheets someday, or maybe she’ll keep spraying her room and relying on her poor sense of smell. Maybe she’ll even take all the coffee mugs that collect dust on her bookshelf and return them to the kitchen cupboard — the room spray can only cover up rotting coffee and cream for so long. But she’s too tired for that, instead trying to find solace in a duvet with an ill-fitting cover, ignoring the assortment of clothes and books and camera batteries and silver chain necklaces and empty granola bar boxes and half a bag of tortilla chips that paint a solemn mosaic on her floor. Somehow she’s wide awake and somehow she falls asleep.

Staring at her thoughts thinking, “Who is she?”

She’s got a few too many thoughts racing around her head, theorizing and plotting and cussing and questioning. She can feel her upbeat heartbeat through every vein and it’s pounding so loud it’s headache-inducing. She doesn’t notice the headache, though, what with all the other pain in there. There’s a panic attack in one corner hiding from the next uncontrollable fit of rage. There’s the never-ending desire to sleep — maybe forever — because exhaustion is her personality. There’s a waterfall flooding into her lungs now because her tears are just as lost as she is and have no place else to go. There’s a pile of boxes of grief and losses she must still process, but there’s a severe lack of knowledge on coping. There’s nothing and there’s everything — total numbness and every feeling in the universe, all at once, a masquerade of emotional chaos. She doesn’t get to choose which mask she wears, though, because they all take unpredictable turns, a game of roulette she never signed up for. She’s always felt off and wrong and uncertain and uncalled for but she has trouble defining what she truly actually feels because what is feeling, anyway? And what’s the point of it?

Staring at myself thinking, “Who am I?”

I don’t know.

But I know I’m not the depression, the anxiety, the anger. I am not the pain.

Unsplash photo via Hermes Rivera


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