Written by Ari Eastman
1. I’m unmotivated to finish things.
The misconception about depression is that it always involves a lot of crying and empty tissue boxes. For me, depression feels like an absence of emotions. It’s a terrible muted feeling, like my insides have been scooped out and I’ve got to fake it somehow. This emptiness makes it hard to get things done. My brain says, What’s the point?1
2. I don’t respond to texts in a timely manner.
I ghost relationships, and not just romantic ones. I just kind of, check out. I don’t know how to explain what’s going on without hurting someone’s feelings. (It’s not you, seriously, it’s me, I’m depressed)
And then I don’t sleep when I should. People who have depression can also struggle with insomnia. I’m constantly exhausted and nap frequently. Sometimes it’s because I’m tired. And sometimes it’s because sleep feels like the only thing I can do.
4. I turn down opportunities I actually want.
I cancel social plans. I don’t follow up on a cool job opportunity. I hide, even when I wish I wouldn’t. Part of me feels undeserving. And the other part of me feels like I’ll find a way to ruin it, so it’s best to just say no.
5. I find ways to self-medicate.
Here’s the thing, self-medication isn’t always alcohol or drug-related. Sometimes, watching a show on Netflix for hours is an escape for me. I know if it’s something I rely on, something I use too much, it’s a vice. I know it’s not the healthiest way to deal with my illness, but sometimes I just need something to get me through the day.
6. I seem apathetic.
It’s not because I don’t care about my friends. It’s not because I don’t care about what’s going on around me. I do, on some level. But my depression makes that difficult. Everything is empty. Even when I wish it wasn’t.
7. I act like I’m fine.
Because maybe I’m not ready for everyone to ask how I’m doing. Not everyone knows how to respond to depression. Some flip out. Some act like it’s a contagious disease. Maybe I’m just trying to survive and I don’t want that to be a public spectacle.