My Most Embarrassing Depression Symptoms
“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation.”– Glenn Close
You think you know depression until you’ve been in the trenches yourself. Sadness, hopelessness, and irritability can be expected. However, nothing prepares you for the embarrassment and shame that can often come along with depression.
I was completely blindsided when embarrassment showed up for me. It’s not something that’s really discussed, and I quickly learned that in our society, there are certain symptoms that you “should” keep hidden from others.
Whenever these symptoms surfaced, I was left feeling awkward and humiliated. No matter how many times I went through a depressive episode, I struggled the most with certain symptoms every single time.
I felt like I was the only one who was experiencing these symptoms and that I had entered a whole new level of crazy. But that simply wasn’t true.
While I realize it may be different for everyone, I want to share with you my most embarrassing depression symptoms. My hope is that it will help feel not so alone in your own journey.
If you find yourself struggling with any of the below, please know that you’re not the only one and it’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of – no matter what anyone else says.
So here it goes…
Embarrassing Depression Symptom #1 – Crying in Front of Others at Work
I’m usually okay with crying in front of others. It’s generally not something I go out of my way to avoid, as it’s a natural thing us humans do. Sadly, there have been occasions at past employers of mine where I didn’t feel like I was in a safe space to cry.
We still live in a culture where crying at work is often seen as unprofessional. I’m not saying there aren’t safe work environments out there. But generally, in today’s workforce, crying on the job is still frowned upon and is something most try to avoid.
There is one memory I hold that I will never forget. My depression got the best of me one day, and I literally broke down in front of my colleagues. Even worse – we were in an open-office environment where we used a shared copier/scanner and bathroom facilities with other offices.
Any time I attempted to step away to compose myself, I would inevitably encounter someone who would notice my puffy eyes or my red nose. It was super obvious that I was crying and there was no hiding it.
Most of the time nothing was said, maybe just a smile was exchanged. But I was okay with that because I knew it was just as uncomfortable for them too.
Time felt like it stood still that day, and in a bad way. I felt awkward, humiliated, and lonely. I
wanted needed to go home, but I didn’t feel like I had the option.
The company I worked for didn’t value the mental health of its employees, so I felt obligated to stay. Plus, I had already missed a day that week due to my depression – I couldn’t possibly miss any more time.
After leaving that job, I made a promise to myself that I would never work for someone or a company like that ever again. And I haven’t since.
Embarrassing Depression Symptom #2 – Feeling Apathetic and Detached
It’s an odd feeling when you get to a point of not caring about anything. To feel emotionless and detached from reality. Anytime I found myself here, I knew it was bad.
It’s a dark and isolated place to be. It can be especially difficult to articulate this feeling to others as it’s just one of those things you personally need to experience to truly understand it.
I have personally experienced this feeling only a couple of times in my life. And both times, it wasn’t fun. I felt like I was in a different realm than everyone else. And that I was just floating by watching people go about their day.
It no longer mattered how I felt. Love was no longer within me. Everything and everyone irritated me – even myself. My patience ran thin and I would often lash out to those I loved most.
Because of this perceived separation from the world and everyone in it – I just didn’t care anymore. I truly didn’t.
Others would say to me “but you do care, or you wouldn’t be so upset.” But they weren’t getting it. And then, I finally realized they never would unless they had been there themselves.
All I can say now being on the other side of depression, is that in those moments, I truly and completely did not care about anything. I was okay if I didn’t wake up tomorrow. Nothing mattered – it was that simple. And looking back – it’s scary how bad it got.
If you ever find yourself in this “void” that I speak of, you know all too well how tormenting it can feel. It causes you to question everything about yourself and makes you feel like an imposter. It convinces you that everyone is out to get you.
What helped me the most during this difficult time was the practice of gratitude. I knew I didn’t like how I was feeling, so I started keeping a journal of the things that I’m grateful for.
Over time, I was able to break free from the abyss and start rebuilding my life. I still try to practice gratitude every day to remind me of all the good that I have in my life – even when things are bad.
Embarrassing Depression Symptom #3 – Not Caring About My Personal Hygiene
The absolutely, most embarrassing (and confusing) symptom of depression for me is when I am unable to keep up with my personal hygiene.
Yep, that’s right. There have been periods in my life where I no longer had the energy to shower myself, brush my teeth, brush my hair, or a multitude of other things that one would consider as basic, personal hygiene. It was just too exhausting.
For some, it can be as extreme as going weeks or months without a shower or bath. Personally, I would typically only last a few days. I usually ended up being way too hard on myself and felt completely disgusting. So, I would give into the guilt and end up using what little energy I had left to take a quick shower.
I also had to ask for help from my husband during my darkest period. I never thought in a million years that I would ever get to that point. It just didn’t seem possible. But it did happen to me and in the moment – I felt completely ashamed.
I would often think to myself, “You know…you’re an adult now. You’re already supposed to have this basic concept mastered and the discipline to carry it out. What is wrong with you!?”
I felt like a complete failure because I couldn’t even muster up the energy to bathe myself. It’s a weird feeling. It’s like you’re filth or scum of the Earth. It definitely messed with me and became a heavy burden to carry.
After scouring the Internet, I quickly realized that I wasn’t alone. It was such a relief to know that there are others who struggle with this symptom too.
Knowing that simple fact helped me more than anything. I finally realized that there wasn’t anything to be ashamed of. That taking care of oneself is something a lot of depression sufferers struggle with.
I hope that by revealing some of my most embarrassing symptoms today that you are able to relate – even if your symptoms are not the same as mine. I know how debilitating and lonely it is to sit with symptoms that you are ashamed of or even embarrassed by.
While depression isn’t the same in every situation, it is likely that whatever symptoms you’re feeling, someone else has felt them before too. Once you realize you’re not alone in your pain, you are able to break free from the shame that taunts you and can finally begin to heal.
So, what about you? What has been your most embarrassing depression symptom? Are yours the same as mine, or do you have different symptoms that you struggle with?