Over the last year, we have witnessed a wider public discussion of mental health. This is necessary in order to smash the neverending stigma attached to mental health. However, there are additional, unwanted symptoms that are often deemed too “embarrassing” to speak openly about. This especially rings true with regards to those of us who struggle with depression.
The only way to overcome the shame and stigma that surrounds depression is to simply talk about it. No matter what your experiences of “embarrassing” symptoms look like, you need to know that you are not alone.
“Embarrassing” Symptoms of Depression
1. Not Showering
I love baths and showers- they can be therapeutic in the sense that you wash away the dirt from the past and feel energised and renewed. However, when my depression cripples me, I physically cannot get up to wash. I know that others will view this as lazy or disgusting and my inner critical voice reiterates that to me every day. I wish that others knew how much energy I have to summon in order to just stay alive on certain days. On these days the thought of washing myself doesn’t even cross my mind.
2. Weight Change
My weight fluctuates due to my depression. When my mood is at it’s lowest, I forget that I need to eat. I’m fortunate enough to have my mum who cares for me and will put food in front of me. However, even when I force-feed myself, I cannot consume too much because I don’t feel hunger or satisfaction from eating. It becomes a vicious cycle because if I don’t eat well or enough, I don’t have the energy to focus on my recovery.
Over the last year, I have had to deal with the fact that I lost an unhealthy amount of weight caused by my depression but then only to gain too much weight attributed to my medication. My yo-yo weight then manifests itself in body confidence anxieties.
3. Crying Too Much
To say that I’m a “crybaby” would be an understatement. I’m a highly sensitive and emotional person. Like everyone, I have certain triggers that will provoke tears but then, there are many occasions when I just sob uncontrollably, for no reason at all. It occurs even when I’m out in public which can then lead to panic attacks. I feel a huge sense of shame after crying especially when I know that it makes others feel uncomfortable. I think that it’s damaging how society dictates that crying is a sign of weakness even though sometimes it can be a natural method of emotional release.
4. Being Unable To Leave The House
Having depression has become so debilitating that I am unable to leave the house alone without panicking and sweating. Even meeting up with a friend for a coffee is incredibly challenging. It’s a combination of social anxieties and agoraphobia. It’s a terrible feeling. You feel like you’re failing at being an adult.
I lost a lot of friends when I first opened up about my mental illnesses. I opened up to them, seeking support, comfort and validation. Not receiving that exchange in friendship has been very difficult to accept. I feel that I’m not worthy of having friends and it’s extremely difficult battling with your mind alone.
6. Unable To Hold Down A Job
My parents sacrificed an awful lot to put me in private education and I attended University for four years to get my undergraduate degree. I get very frustrated with myself that I’m not able to use that privileged education to hold onto a full-time job. When I first graduated I worked full-time in a London corporate job as expected. However, my depressive episodes overpowered me and sent me into extreme anxiety, panic attacks and emotional break-downs. On a daily basis, I was left feeling empty and exhausted. I had completely burnt out. Not being able to work deeply upsets me as I can see my peers and friends growing successfully in their careers whilst I can barely function. I desperately want to prove that I’m much more than what my mental illness limits me to be.
7. Being Emotionally Unstable
People often think that depression means feeling sadness. They don’t understand that there’s a vast array of emotions to be felt when you are depressed. I can become very angry with others and lash out. This anger derives from my own inability to understand, express and manage my emotions. Having BPD, I feel all emotions at an extreme. They’re either incredibly heightened or I feel absolutely nothing at all.
8. Feeling Exhausted All The Time And Oversleeping
I had been exhausted for about ten years due to insomnia. Now that I’m on medication to help with my sleep, I can now sleep 8-12 hours and still feel tired. I can’t concentrate, I’m snappy and I feel mentally drained from trying to keep everything together. There are days when I can’t get out of bed physically without crying. From the outside, it appears that I’m once again very lazy. I simply can’t help it and I most certainly do not choose to feel this way.
9. Flaking On Plans And Avoiding Loved Ones
I’m unreliable. I will make plans to see friends and boyfriends – only to cancel at the last minute. This has been very damaging on my relationships. I don’t do this with the intention of hurting my loved ones or being selfish. I have my reasons for flaking. I’m emotionally exhausted, I feel fear and anxiety and I have low confidence issues. It usually boils down to the fact that I feel that I waste the time of others and think that people are often better off without my company.
I avoid people. I avoid replying to messages or seeing friends. I stay inside trying to avoid reality. But this ultimately contributes to my loneliness which is self-imposed.
(TW) After self-harming, I feel a sense of short-lived relief which precedes a much more overwhelming feeling of shame and disgust. The worst thing is that I’m left with scars that constantly remind me of how pathetic I am to have resorted to such irresponsible actions. I have to spend time covering them up with make-up or clothing because I feel so much shame.
I can be halfway through a conversation with someone and suddenly I feel myself slipping out of my body and losing control of the situation. People think I’m being rude for ignoring them but once again it’s not a choice and I’m left very red-faced.
A Final Note
I wanted to ensure you all that feelings of shame and embarrassment are very real and valid. But in spite of these natural sentiments, I wanted to remind you all that it’s more than okay to not be okay. Depression is never a choice, therefore we shouldn’t feel shame in struggling with an intrusive mental disorder like depression.