Over the weekend, the hashtag #MyDepressionLooksLike took over Twitter by storm as people all over the world shared personal stories on the different ways depression impacts their lives on a daily basis and how to outsiders, it looks like nothing at all.
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses with symptoms that include:
- Lack of energy
- Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, sadness and frustration
- Inability to concentrate
- Not doing activities one usually enjoys
- Withdrawing from those around you
- Thoughts of self-hatred, worthlessness and suicide
Because depression is overlooked and an illness that is not obviously exhibited, people do not know what it looks like. So what does depression look like?
#mydepressionlookslike being so exhausted mentally and physically that I can't get out of bed.
— 🖤Mortemer🖤 (@Mort3mer) May 22, 2016
#MyDepressionLooksLike absolutely nothing, cause I'm expending my energy hiding it from you.
— 5'7" Bleck Male (@absurdistwords) May 22, 2016
#MyDepressionLooksLike me slowly distancing myself from everyone/everything I once loved, therefore becoming isolated & even more miserable.
— ☾ (@disintegrxting) May 23, 2016
The viral hashtag showed how people who smile, are successful and seem okay on the outside may be silently suffering a depressive episode.
#MyDepressionLooksLike my regular self. I've been at it so long, I've got game face. And If you see my face, I've made it out of the house.
— Kat Kinsman (@kittenwithawhip) May 22, 2016
#mydepressionlookslike I'm always happy. Might seem like I'm doing well from the outside, but behind the laughs I'm early crying
— the pink protagonist (@ProtagonistPink) May 23, 2016
#MyDepressionLooksLike high functioning, hard working on the outside and lethargy, self-loathing, and exhaustion on the inside.
— northern transplant (@colocha_rachel) May 22, 2016
It is often assumed depression is all about sadness, but it’s so much more than that. The truth is that people do not need to look sad or unable to function in order to be depressed. This refers to what mental health experts describe as “smiling depression“, which is described by psychologist Rita Labeaune as:
“People suffering from smiling depression may offer no hint of their problem to the outside world. They often maintain a full-time job, run a family household, participate in sports, and have a fairly active social life. With their mask on, everything looks great, even at times perfect. However, underneath the mask they are suffering from sadness, panic attacks, low self-esteem, insomnia, and, in some cases, suicidal thoughts.”
— Kate Duncan (@katesduncan) May 22, 2016
The hashtag was powerful in revealing how depression differs person to person. It is also a stepping stone in breaking down the stigma around mental illness and allowing those who suffer to be more open with those who are not.
#MyDepressionLooksLike isolating myself from any and everybody because of feeling like a burden.
— Treywop. 🌬 (@TRYVNS) May 22, 2016
#MyDepressionLooksLike getting a full night of sleep yet waking up and still feeling tired.
— One Punch PUSSY. (@KatHeartwell) May 22, 2016
— karissa 💃🏼💃🏼💃🏼 (@willyumbeckett) May 22, 2016
Per year, 1 million Australians suffer from depression. On average, according to Beyond Blue, 1 in 6 Australians – 1 in 5 women and 1 in 8 men – will experience depression at some stage of their lives. As for the younger folks, according to Youth Beyond Blue, 1 in 16 young Australians aged between 16-24 are currently experiencing this illness, and 1 in 4 young people are currently suffering from a mental health condition. That is equivalent to 750,000 people. Think about that.
With the amount of people suffering from depression or any other mental illness, it is time for us to learn to be mental health allies and break the stigma.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental illness, or in particular, suicidal thoughts, please contact Lifeline (13 11 14) or see your GP in order to get a mental health care plan. You can find more information at Beyond Blue.