GUEST BLOG: This is What My Depression Looks Like

Depression is itchy. Well more specifically the scars are itchy. Mine are at least. I was clean for exactly 2 years and 13 days before I relapsed. November was kind of complete garbage. It always is. There’s something about my birthday that just sets me off, and it was shortly after my birthday that I relapsed. I couldn’t sleep on my left side for 2 weeks after that, but that wasn’t the worst part. I’ve been through this enough times to know the routine and how to deal with the pain, and the blood, but after all this time, I don’t know how to stop the healing skin from itching so much. Sometimes I’m scared someone will notice — in lecture, while I’m walking home, in the grocery store — someone will ask me ‘why are you itching your hip so much, what did you do to it?’, and I still haven’t come up with an excuse that would make sense. Even the old scars still itch. Depression is itchy.

Depression is smelly. And, that’s not just in an ‘unclean body smell’ way. Actually, depression reeks. It is repulsive. It’s every dish you own in your sink and on your counter, covered in something. It’s bed sheets that haven’t been washed in two months that you hate smelling all day and night. It is the unclean body smell too. All of these gross, disgusting scents surround you every day, and you can’t get away from them. You can’t clean the sink because it’s just going to pile up again anyways, and besides look at it: It’s disgusting, you can see the mold from here, so why waste the energy? Who cares? You can’t wash your sheets because that would mean you had to strip the bed and walk down to the washer and dryer and spend money, and you’re just going to get them dirty by lying in your bed all day anyways. So who cares? You can’t clean yourself because getting in the shower takes so much energy, and you Just. Don’t. Care. Sometimes, I get worried that other people can smell the depression on me. The days I actually make it to school, I have to make sure I drown myself in deodorant and perfume; but even then, I can smell it. When I finally did get around to cleaning the sink this month, I couldn’t get through it without gagging. It hadn’t been like this in a very long time. I had to take a few breaks it was so bad. Depression smells.

Depression is uncomfortable. I haven’t been truly comfortable in 7 years. I haven’t sat in a chair that didn’t make my back hurt. I haven’t had a night that I slept all the way through without waking up. Either I can’t get to sleep, or I wake up at least two or three times a night. I’m scared of sleeping with other people because I toss and turn so much; I’m afraid they’ll get mad at me. I haven’t found a style of clothing that makes me relaxed and confident — it’s always too tight — and I’m scared people will point out that I’m fat or that I’m shaped weirdly. It also goes the other way: sometimes I’m scared the clothes I wear are too baggy, and that instead of having tight clothes that show off how fat I am, I become shapeless. Sometimes I get dressed and it looks fine, but I step out of my house, and suddenly everything is too revealing, and I have to spend the whole day adjusting things, because I’m not confident enough to pull the look off. I haven’t felt good in my own skin in a long time. I haven’t liked the way I look in ages. I haven’t found people that I am completely open with. I haven’t been relaxed around my parents. I am hyperaware of the people around me and what they think of me, and don’t even get me started on eating in public. My brain is always lingering on the things in the past that I am embarrassed about. But it’s also more than that. I haven’t felt comfortable with my soul, or my thoughts. I have no idea who I am, or how I define myself anymore. My personality changes day to day, and depending on who I’m with. Then I get home, and I have nothing to define me, so I get into bed, and be uncomfortable with myself alone. Depression is uncomfortable.

Above all else, depression is so selfish. Almost 1000 words into this, and I haven’t written a word about a single soul other than myself. I never ask about how my friends are doing, I never remember the things important to other people; I am always just waiting for the conversation to focus on me. That’s what it feels like anyway. You get these thoughts like ‘why hasn’t anyone noticed me and how I’m falling apart’. You forget that other people have problems. You forget that other people have their own definitions of depression, or anxiety, or whatever they’re dealing with. My depression is uncomfortable, and it smells, and it itches, but maybe someone else’s depression tastes like ash, and is exhausting. Maybe someone’s anxiety is frustrating and cold.

I really don’t know how to end this, so I will leave you with one last thing. As I read this over again, it all seemed so normal to me. It’s like some sick cycle that happens over and over again. Sure my depression is pretty awful, and all of these things suck, but I do know how to deal with them; so much so that I can write about them. I can recognize the signs and symptoms. I know what my depression is, and I know how to handle it, and that makes me kind of hopeful right now. It’s going to be itchy and smelly and uncomfortable and selfish, but I know how to combat all of it. Maybe not forever, but for a little while, and for right now, that’s good enough for me. This is what my depression looks like.

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