A Facebook post is going viral for its raw and honest depiction of depression
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, yet there is still so much that people don’t understand about the condition. We can read the data, educate ourselves on the symptoms, and study the statistics, but until and unless you’ve experienced depression yourself, it can be difficult to comprehend. Seventeen-year-old Katelyn Todd recently shared a photo and Facebook post shedding light on what it’s really like to live with depression, and it has quickly gone viral for it’s raw authenticity.
“I brushed my hair today,” Todd wrote in a now viral Facebook post. While brushing one’s hair might seem like a daily activity for most, Todd explained in the post that, for her, it was a major accomplishment. Because it was the first time in four weeks she had brushed her hair, it was matted and twisted. She cried while she washed and conditioned it, because she had forgotten how it felt to run her fingers through her hair. She continued to list other recent accomplishments, such as brushing her teeth for the first time in a week and taking a shower.
“When I got out of the shower, I couldn’t stop sniffing my hair and arm,” she wrote. “I’ve avoided hugging people for a while, because I never smell good. I always smell like I’ve been on bedrest for a week. I have no clean clothes, because I’m too tired and sad to wash them.”
Todd went on to explain that her self-care and personal hygiene lapse had been due to a depressive episode. With gritty detail, she bravely put a face to depression so that others might understand what it is like to live with the illness.
“Depression isn’t beautiful. Depression is bad hygiene, dirty dishes, and a sore body from sleeping too much. Depression is having 3 friends that are only still around because they have the patience and love of a saint. Depression is crying until there’s no more tears, just dry heaving and sobbing until you’re gasping for your next breath. Depression is staring at the ceiling until your eyes burn because you forget to blink. Depression is making your family cry because they think you don’t love them anymore when you’re distant and distracted.”
She ended her Facebook post with some advice for family and friends of people with depression or other mental health condition.
“Please be easy on your friends and family that have trouble getting up the energy to clean, hang out, or take care of themselves,” she wrote. “And please, please take them seriously if they talk to you about it. We’re trying. I swear we’re trying. See? I brushed my hair today.”
In just a couple days, Todd’s Facebook post has been shared more than 211,000 times and has more than 14,000 comments, most of them words of support and solidarity, and she hopes that people find a sense of togetherness as a result of the post.
With an estimated 16 million people experiencing at least one depressive episode a year, we have to change the conversation around depression and other mental health conditions. Todd tells Scary Mommy that she wishes people understood that depression isn’t a choice.
“It is not laziness,” she said. “It is not a crutch. It can’t be fixed with positive thoughts (although they may help sometimes), or ‘snapping out of it’, or vitamins. Instead of telling someone that other people have it worse, or to just change how they’re living, offer to listen to how they feel.”
Todd thinks one of the hardest things for people to understand about depression is that the condition fluctuates. She credits her recent improvement to the help of her support system and finding the coping skills that best worked for her, including writing and other forms of art.
“When you tell someone you have depression, they immediately point out that they have seen you smile, that they have seen pictures of you out with friends, enjoying life,” she said. “Depression is a constant underlying sadness for me… Sometimes it is overwhelming and debilitating, but I do feel happiness, sometimes genuine and deep happiness. The emptiness is just always there, underneath whatever other emotion I’m feeling at the moment.”
To those with depression, Todd wants them to know that they are not alone. “You will never be alone. You’re worth loving. Take care of yourself. Brush your hair. Drink enough water. Love yourself.”