Depression — with its many layers, stages, and complexities — looks different for everyone. There’s no one size fits all remedy and sometimes you just have to go through it in order to come out on the other side. But while it’s common — even suggested — for us retreat and take cover during a rough time, one brave young woman took a different approach.
Katelyn Marie Todd posted a photo of herself on Facebook holding a hairbrush. In the caption she shares a heartfelt message regarding a more nuanced side effect of depression. Sometimes the simple everyday act of doing something like brushing your hair can feel overwhelming.
“I brushed my hair today. For the first time in 4 weeks. It was matted and twisted together. It snapped and tore with every stroke. I cried while I washed and conditioned it, because I forgot how it felt to run my fingers through it. I brushed my teeth, too, for the first time in a week. My gums bled. My water ran red. I cried over that, as well. When I got out of the shower, I couldn't stop sniffing my hair and arms. I've avoided hugging people for a while, because I never smell good. I always smell like I've been on bedrest for a week. I have no clean clothes, because I'm too tired and sad to wash them.”
In a study published last year in JAMA Internal Medicine, statistics revealed that in addition to depression being one of the most common mental-health concerns in the U.S., it frequently goes undiagnosed. The reasons for this are varied. This is why seeing what depression actually looks like and hearing personal tales like this post from Todd are so important.
“Depression isn't beautiful. Depression is bad hygiene, dirty dishes, and a sore body from sleeping too much,” Todd continued. “Depression is having 3 friends that are only still around because they have the patience and love of a saint. Depression is crying until there's no more tears, just dry heaving and sobbing until you're gasping for your next breath. Depression is staring at the ceiling until your eyes burn because you forget to blink. Depression is making your family cry because they think you don't love them anymore when you're distant and distracted. Depression is somatic as well as emotional, an emptiness you can physically feel.”
Todd’s message ended on a crucial, helpful note with a powerful message about being easy on friends and family. “Please be easy on your friends and family that have trouble getting up the energy to clean, hang out, or take care of themselves,” she said. “And please, please take them seriously if they talk to you about it. We're trying. I swear we're trying. See? I brushed my hair today."
Depression is real. And sometimes turning to friends and loved ones during a rough period isn’t an option. We need experts; we need books — anything to let us know that we’re not alone. Sometimes that even includes an honest post on social media from a stranger.
If you are experiencing depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.