What My Depression Looks Like

One of the exercises I did while I was in therapy was creating a collage of images that describe how I feel while I am depressed.

Images of my Depression

My collage of pain and suffering

A. The witch image depicts how I feel completely rotten inside. Not only feeling “not good enough,” but also that there is fundamentally something wrong with me. Down to my core I am horrible, undeserving of love, and worthless.

B. The woman with her hands covering her face describes how I feel utterly powerless. I feel like I can’t do anything to make things better. I feel consumed by sadness and self-hatred.

C. The pink balloon reminds me how lost I feel. I feel detached from everyone and everything. They remind me of Mickey Mouse ears and the idea that we should seek unbridled joy, but all I feel is boundless heartache.

D. The rodent with the leash and collar describe how I feel chained to my responsibilities and obligations. I feel burdened by having to take care of other people, and then guilty that I see it as a burden. There’s this sense that I should feel only gratitude for what’s in my life.

E. The Nyquil depicts my desire to end my pain and suffering by overdosing. When I feel deeply depressed, I just want to end it all and sleep forever.

F. The question mark is another illustration of how lost I feel. I don’t know who I am, why I’m here, or what the point of my life is.

It shames me to admit that I’ve ever had these feelings and that I still have them. I had to take a break from writing this because I was crying so hard. The difference though between who I was when I made this collage and who I am today is that I know that these images do not reflect the real me.

  • I am not perfect, but there is good in me
  • I can’t fix everything, but I am strong and powerful, especially in my willingness to ask for help
  • I belong to multiple loving, supportive communities in which I am deeply connected and appreciated
  • I do have responsibilities, but I am able to set healthy boundaries, and I don’t have to do everything myself
  • Life is painful sometimes but I am never alone in my suffering; I have many friends to lean on who lift me up
  • I still don’t know why I’m here, but I know that I have value, and I contribute to the people in my life every day; my life and theirs is richer for it

It’s tempting to hide this side of me, to show only my cheerful persona, but that would be a disservice to all the people who are still suffering and feel all alone. Depression is a part of my life, but it does not define me. It doesn’t have to define yours either.

If you or someone you know is depressed, please check out the links on the “Where to Get Help” page.

What images describe your experience of depression?

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7 thoughts on “What My Depression Looks Like

  1. Mara Migraineur January 10, 2014 at 11:34 am Reply

    Is it cheating of me to send you to the drawing of my migraine monster that my son drew? http://migrainefamily.com/2013/10/08/migraine-demon/

  2. […] made an appointment to get treatment for her chronic pain and resulting depression after reading “What My Depression Looks Like.” I’m glad she was able to find hope here, and I pray that her medical team helps her get […]

  3. […] One person said this is the only blog she reads. Another said she was so inspired by my “This Is What My Depression Looks Like” post that she made an appointment to get treatment for her chronic pain and […]

  4. […] husband through the horror I may become? I’ve written before about what my depression “looks like,” and it’s not […]

  5. […] Challenge in January, publishing 31 posts in 31 days. One reader wrote to tell me that my “What My Depression Looks Like” post prompted her to schedule an appointment with her doctor to try again to get her chronic […]

  6. usingourwords July 29, 2014 at 9:13 pm Reply

    Thank you for opening your heart and soul to get people thinking about this very important topic. You are a talented writer and storyteller and I’m hopeful you’ll add that to your list of reasons to feel proud.

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