What Does Depression Look Like?

I read an article the other day that challenged the concept that depression was just being sad or ‘down’ for a few days. The author lists many common symptoms of depression – fatigue, being unable to get out of bed, ignoring self-care. These are all very accurate descriptions of what depression can look like – but they aren’t inclusive. Depression is a syndrome, a collection of signs that appear different in different people; I think that may be part of the reason why so many people don’t seek help – they aren’t depressed, only stressed out, tired, and in need of a break, not realizing that what they define as stress and tired may actually be symptoms of a deeper problem. So, I am going to explain what depression looks like in my life, in the hopes that someone may read it and realize that they might benefit from professional help. I know I have.


Depression isn’t sadness, it’s not feeling anything

Being so stable and even keeled that no emotion really touches me

Building walls so high and thick, brick by brick

Insulating, isolating, protecting, stunting


Depression isn’t crying in the mornings, it’s making my egg sandwich and coffee

Even though it kind of tastes like ashes in my mouth; swallowing past the dry lump

Dragging feet that feel like lead weights, even though I got more than eight hours of sleep

Chugging coffee and soda like a lifeline just to pass


Depression isn’t staying in bed for days at a time, watching the world go by

I don’t have time for that; it’s getting up when my alarm rings before I can think of reasons why

Why I don’t want to get up, why I shouldn’t go to class, why I’m worthless



Depression is a liar, a snake whispering in my ear – worthless

Useless. I’m terrified someone will see past my exterior,

See the fraud I know myself to be, and all my dreams will come crashing down

So I get up in the morning. Hoping no one will know


Depression is putting on a smile, laughing and talking

Though sometimes, my temporalis muscle is wound so tight

I can’t open my mouth, my teeth grind all night

I can’t speak, because that would require loosening up

If I did that, everything might come spilling out


So I shut up. I let depression put me on a tight leash

Willingly enslaved, I know no different

These manacles and chains have become a part of my psyche

And the demon always whispers, “No one will listen”


Staring at the emails and applications

Wanting to apply, to further my education

But depression is there, too

Telling me I’ll fail, reminding me of the times I tried before


What if I don’t measure up?

It’s easier just not to try

Giving myself a million reasons why

I stay behind, though in the things that outwardly matter


I’m always ahead. So no one will know

No one will see how I beat myself up

No one will hear the lie in my voice

Because depression lies through my words


Lies to me – I’m worthless

Less than that, useless.

Lies to others – I’m fine, just a little tired

Doing well. No one will listen, anyway


But in this my depression kills more than my integrity

Cuz if I’m lying, so’s the person next to me

And if I never get the courage to stand on my feet

If I always let myself be tied down and beat


Who will stand for the next me?

So I stand, and I look depression in the face

Not today, I say. I am worthy

I make mistakes, I’ll be the first to admit it –


I’ll shout it, rather, from the rooftop

Let the first year who doesn’t know if they’ll make it

Know that they don’t have to fake it

Because I’m broken, but I’m not beat


And I’m standing here, naked and unashamed

I will no longer be afraid

Actually no – I am terrified

But my fears have been named


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