It’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. One woman’s Facebook posting on the impact of depression on her life has gone viral since going appearing on the weekend.
One of the symptoms of depression is a tendency to let personal hygiene slide. This is something that Katelyn Marie Todd is only too aware about.
On Sunday she posted a note about brushing her hair.
‘I brushed my hair today. For the first time in 4 weeks,’ she said.
‘It was matted and twisted together. It snapped and tore with every stroke. I cried while I washed and conditioned it, because I forgot how it felt to run my fingers through it.
‘I brushed my teeth, too, for the first time in a week. My gums bled. My water ran red. I cried over that, as well. When I got out of the shower, I couldn’t stop sniffing my hair and arms. 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.
‘Depression isn’t beautiful’
‘I have no clean clothes, because I’m too tired and sad to wash them.
‘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. Depression is somatic as well as emotional, an emptiness you can physically feel.
‘Please be easy on your friends and family that have trouble getting up the energy to clean, hang out, or take care of themselves. 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.’
‘Take baby steps’
Since being posted, the note has had 116,000 reactions, nearly 250,000 shares and 16,000 comments. Many of those commenting have expressed support or aired similar sentiments.
‘I have suffered from depression for almost 27 years and it’s the deep dark kind, not the kind that “getting out of the house for a while will make you feel better” helps, like my friends think,’ says Cathy Heck Mertz.
‘Take one breath at a time, sometimes that’s all we can do. Take baby steps. Brushing your hair is a big deal if you haven’t been able to do it for awhile. Congrats on that! Tomorrow try doing something else you haven’t done in a while, and the next day and the next.’
‘I have suffered daily for over 12 years. I so know your pain and what you describe,’ says Janet Williamson Ridenhour. ‘Until you go through depression, you really don’t know. Forcing myself to move helps me. Even if it is just a walk to the kitchen.
‘Find a good therapist. They can give you coping mechanisms.’
Another, Angie Oravec, says, ‘I wasn’t able to put into words the depth of what I am feeling. You described it. Thank you for having the courage to write this and share it.’
Katelyn, who is from Georgia, told GSN that she was first diagnosed with depression aged just ten. She had been bowled by the response to her posting.
‘I was astonished. I had no clue it would blow up the way it did, but I am so thankful that I was able to give people an understanding that they are not alone.’
Depression can affect people in different ways. Spending hours in bed or neglecting your appearance or bathing is but one way it can express itself.
If you think you are experiencing a depressive episode, speak to someone about it. Talk to a trusted friend or ask for help: from a doctor, counselor other medical professional.
If you don’t feel able to reach out to someone in person, here are some crisis support helplines.