Mom's Viral Photo Tells A Little-Known Truth About Living With Depression

by Jerriann Sullivan
Image via Brittany Ernsperger

Young mom penned viral post about living with depression

After weeks of struggling to do the dishes, a young mom shared a heartfelt message about living with depression and anxiety that has gone viral and inspired thousands of people.

Brittany Ernsperger snapped a photo of a large pile of clean dishes and shared it on Facebook with the message, “This is what depression looks like. No. Not the clean dishes. But that there were that many dishes in the first place; that I’ve gone 2 weeks without doing them.” An inability to do daily chores is a sign of depression, it’s just not as well known as others. But Ernsperger’s message is helping a lot of people learn more about mental health.

She explained the situation saying: “3 days ago I sat on the kitchen floor and stared at them while I cried. I knew they needed to be done. I wanted to do them so bad. But depression pulled me under. It sucked me in. Like a black hole. Rapidly, sinking quick-sand. I walked by them morning and night and all day long. And just looked at them. Telling myself that I could do them. Telling myself that I would.”

But every day the mom wasn’t able to bring herself to do them provided another day of feeling worse. “And feeling defeated every day that I didn’t. Making the depression only that much worse because not accomplishing something that needs to be done is failure,” she wrote. “Worthless. Failure. Piece of shit. Incompetent. Stupid. Lazy. All things that roll through the mind of someone with depression. All. Day. Long.” Ernsperger explained that her anxiety only made things worse. “Being scared your husband will leave because he thinks you’re lazy. Being scared to let people into your home because they’ll think you’re nasty. Feeling like you’re failing your kids because for the 3rd night in a row you don’t have any clean dishes to cook dinner on.. so pizza it is,” she said.

Depression takes normal household chores and turns them into unbeatable nightmares. “People feel very overwhelmed by the demands of daily life,” University of Pittsburgh psychiatry professor Dr. Holly Swartz told TODAY. “It is kind of a double-whammy. The depression makes it hard to get things done and the depression makes you think that you are a bad person for not being able to do them.”

Ernsperger’s candid description of what living with depression can look like resonated with thousands of people, who shared her post and tagged their friends and family members in the comment section. “It is so beautifully honest,” Dr. Ken Duckworth, who is the medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, told TODAY. “She puts it all right out there … and I think that is really compelling.” She also addressed others who might be suffering and offered some words of encouragement. “Depression is something that ‘strong’ people don’t talk about because they don’t want people to think they’re ‘weak,'” she wrote. “You’re not weak. You’ve been strong for so long and through so many things, that your body needs a break.I don’t even care if the only thing you did today, was put deodorant on. I’m proud of you for it. Good job.”

People shared Ernsperger Facebook thousands of times and left hundreds of comments. Some shared their own struggles with depression while others offered help. At the end of her post, the young mom reminded people that they’re not alone. “I’m in your corner. I’m on your side,” she said. “But I am letting everyone know that I’m here for you. I get it. If you need someone to talk to, I’m always here to help.”