May is Mental Health Month. Throughout the month we will bring you stories about mental health and the importance of breaking surrounding stigmas, as well as highlighting those who live with related conditions and are advocating awareness.
Depression is still a mental illness that's often stigmatized, but for many young people, it's also romanticized. But artist Katelyn Marie Todd is shedding a light on the condition, showing that it's nothing to aspire to while simultaneously raising awareness for people who live with it. She opened up about her struggle and gave advice to anyone who loves someone with depression.
In a Facebook post, Todd shared a black-and-white image of herself brushing her hair. It was the first time she did it in four weeks.
"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," she wrote. "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. I have no clean clothes, because I'm too tired and sad to wash them."
Todd hopes to show a side of depression many people don't see. It's a painful struggle that can make even the seemingly simplest tasks a huge challenge.
"Depression isn't beautiful," she continued. "Depression is bad hygiene, dirty dishes, and a sore body from sleeping too much. Depression is having three 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."
Of course, most people who suffer from depression know this, but hopefully Todd opening up about her experience will help people be more sympathetic and supportive.
"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."
Todd's post has since gone viral since she first posted it last weekend. It's been shared more than 260,000 times and has amassed more than 19,000 responses. It struck a nerve with many because of how relatable it is and refreshingly honest. We hope it inspires many others to share their own stories and raise awareness about mental health issues.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with mental health issues, there are a number of resources available to provide support. Check them out here.
Cover image via Shutterstock