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This Photo Shows a Subtle Way Depression Presents Itself

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Depression isn’t always noticeable. It doesn’t always make itself known in ways that are obvious to loved ones or yourself. Sometimes it presents in subtler ways, like neglecting laundry or skipping showers. For Brittany Ernsperger, depression looks like a pile of clean dishes on her countertop. 

Ernsperger posted a photo on Facebook of a large pile of clean dishes sitting next to her kitchen sink. The pile was the dishes from the last two weeks that Ernsperger couldn’t get herself to do because of depression.

“Three days ago I sat on the kitchen floor and stared at them while I cried,” she wrote. “I knew they needed to be done. I wanted to do them so bad. But depression pulled me under. It sucked me in. Like a black hole. Rapidly, sinking quick-sand.”

This is what depression looks like.No. Not the clean dishes.But that there were that many dishes in the first place;…

Posted by Brittany Ernsperger on Saturday, June 30, 2018

She said she felt like a failure and worthless because she hadn’t brought herself to do the dishes. Her anxiety made her worry her husband would leave her because of the dishes or that people would think she’s nasty.

The dishes were just one “everyday task” that became an uphill battle for Ernsperger. Showering, brushing her teeth, getting dressed and more took more effort because of depression.

“It all becomes a nightmare,” she said. “A very daunting task. Somedays it doesn’t get done at all.”

Ernsperger isn’t alone when it comes to depression making even the simplest of tasks seem impossible. It’s often in these subtle ways that depression shows itself.

“Dirty dishes that sit until they smell,” Martha W. said of how she knows her depression is back. “Usually I am a do-the-dishes-every-day type. The worse my depression, the longer I go between doing the dishes. When my depression is bad I just don’t even see the dishes.”

Another member of The Mighty’s mental health community, Isabelle O. said, “I have no energy or motivation to do anything; don’t want to get up to make food, even if I’m hungry, so I eat junk, or I don’t even have energy to go shower even if I feel gross, etc. I just want to lay in bed all day long.”

Depression does not make you weak, Ernsperger said. Even if you lose the motivation or ability to do everyday tasks, you’re not lazy or worthless.

“I don’t even care if the only thing you did today was put deodorant on,” Ernsperger said. “I’m proud of you for it. Good job. I’m in your corner. I’m on your side.”

Originally published: July 9, 2018
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