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The 'Makeover' Depression Gives Me

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Having depression does not mean that I spend my days sitting by the window in an oversized jumper, looking thoughtfully into the trees that surround me.

Having depression does not mean that I sleep all day and night, listening to sad songs and dabbing my tears with tissues.

Having depression does not mean that I lie in bed under my duvet, hugging my pillow and crying till I become dehydrated.

Having depression does not mean that I put my hair up in a messy bun and leaving the house feeling self-conscious because I didn’t wear any make-up.

Having depression does not mean that I lose weight because I forget to eat, allowing me to fit into a smaller size and seem petite and fragile.

For some people, depression may mean those things, and that is perfectly alright. But for me, depression is nothing like that. My depression doesn’t follow the guidelines the media often gives us. Instead it gives me a total makeover that leaves me looking less human and more “the walking dead” — a look that leaves me unable to function in any way other than that of a scarecrow.

So for me, depression means wearing my grandfather’s oversized boxer shorts and loose tops. It means curling up in my bed feeling like the world is attacking me, and then suddenly kicking around and rocking myself while repeating that I am to blame for all my misery.

For me, depression means keeping the doors and curtains closed and allowing fungus to grow as the humidity rises and the air grows stale. It means not changing my sheets for weeks at a time and ignoring the layer of dust that sits on everything around me.

For me, depression means having masses of hair fall into my hands as I try to tie it all back. It means having to have huge sections chopped off because of the knots that have nested themselves within my curls. It means having to sit on the salon chair in tears, begging the stylist to please fix me while also trying not to seem useless as I explain why I look like such a mess.

For me, depression means sitting with a blank face as binge on boxes of family pack cereal within a few hours. It means eating every moment I am awake in hopes that the food will push my demons away. It means scouring the kitchen for anything that is edible, regardless of being uncooked or expired. It means gaining weight but refusing to leave the house in order to buy new clothes that fit — and it means covering all the mirrors and hiding from house guests.

Overall, depression makes me look how I feel on the inside. Dead, but still breathing.

But today, something happened.

I mentioned already my emergency visit to the salon prompted by the knots the my head had hosted.

Walking in to the salon, I was panicking. I hadn’t left the house to go anywhere other than the hospital in months. I was wearing clothes that showed my weight gain and my face and hair looked as though I had been pulled out of a Tim Burton movie.

But walking out, I felt… confused.

I won’t tell you that I felt like a new person, walking with a spring in my step and ready to take on the world. Because, honestly, I still felt fat, selfish and hopeless. But I did feel different.

The hairdresser pulled miracle after miracle during my four hours in the chair. She cut it short and straightened it just enough to make it manageable in the future. She consulted me on how I was feeling every step of the way and kept me at ease as much as possible.

Leaving the salon, I had the hair of a confident person. It looked as though it belonged to a powerful woman, working as a CEO and keeping her sh*t together with ease.

Yes, my eyes are still bloodshot and my body is still overweight and weak – but my hair seems to temporarily distract from it all. I can’t stop looking at it, enjoying how light it feels — a literal weight lifted from my shoulders.

Returning home, I saw myself getting lost in a whirlwind of thoughts. Memories from early childhood came back to me, pulling me back to the past.

Because this hairstyle reminded me of a time when I dreamed of the future. This hairstyle belonged in the dreams of the innocent 5-year-old that played with clipboards and credit cards. The dreams I had long forgotten about after years of misery. This haircut encompasses everything I wanted to be: a hard-worker, a confident woman and a strong influential citizen.

And for the first time in years, I am questioning my want to die. I am questioning whether or not I need to die in order to end my pain. I am questioning my self-hatred and I am allowing myself think of a future.

No, my problems haven’t just disappeared. I am more anxious than ever because suddenly all my beliefs and thoughts are being questioned and I have no idea what to do next.

The future still looks scary. It looks unbelievably difficult; more painful than anything I have ever felt and full of problems I have ignored for so long — but it is now a possibility.

Maybe I will return to being suicidal within a few hours, choosing not to try and recover. Maybe I will try to recover, only to give up within a day, reverting to my home in the darkness.

Maybe I will start recovery and push through it, allowing me to live the life I once dreamed of.

The first two are more likely than the last — they are the routes I have taken in the past and I find comfort in that familiarity — but the last one is still in the running. A 0.01 percent chance is better than none.

The point is not what happens next. The point is that right now, even though I am shaking with fear and anxiety, I am considering choosing to recover from my mental illnesses rather than trying to die.

I am considering choosing to live.

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 Olaia Irigoien

Originally published: December 4, 2017
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