While many of depression’s effects are invisible, it has also changed the way I look on the outside. I was never someone who spent a lot of energy worrying about what others might think about my appearance, but I liked to look put together and enjoyed dressing up for my own sake. When I’m depressed, though, that goes out the window along with much of the rest of my self-care, and I tend to feel (and sometimes look, to be perfectly honest) like a shaggy buffalo.
I live in Vancouver, Canada, the home of Lululemon and a place where yoga pants are definitely not just for yoga. I wasn’t a perpetual yoga pants girl, though; I was a girly girl when it came to style, and my closet is filled with skirts, dresses, and feminine tops. Those items now hang mostly untouched in my closet, and instead I live in yoga pants. Not in a stylized, $100+/pair make-your-butt-look-great Lululemon kind of way; more of a $20 pair from Walmart plus old tanktop with a hole in it plus shapeless cardigan kind of way. I used to wear leggings as a substitute for tights under dresses and skirts, but now I use them as a substitute for pants. Leggings as pants is maybe not the best choice for a girl like me carrying some junk in the trunk, but I’m beyond caring. My goal each day is to actually change from the yoga pants with holes in the crotch that I use as pyjamas to daytime yoga pants with no holes (or at least not in the crotch).
Perhaps this is TMI, but that’s just too bad. Goodbye underwire, hello sports bra. I used to wear a “real bra” most of the time, and certainly that gives the best look visually with the whole lift and separate situation. I’ll still occasionally wear an underwire bra for work, but 95% of the time I’m in either a sports bra that keeps the girls sucked into a snug uniboob, or a bralette that’s just a small step up from going bra-free. Sometimes I’ll look in the mirror and think oh dear, this is not attractive, but I almost never move beyond noticing to actually caring.
I used to try to avoid a little thing called VPL (visible panty line). The collection of thongs that used to be a standard accompaniment with skirts and dresses now sits untouched in a corner of my underwear drawer. There’s a lot of things I should be pushing myself to give a crap about, but shoving some fabric up my butt crack is not one of them.
I used to like wearing heels. Not scary unwalkable heels, but confidence-inspiring heels. There’s something about that shift in posture that comes with wearing heels that tends to make me feel stronger. During my last hospitalization I was getting ready for a review panel to challenge my committal. I was wearing a pair of high-heeled boots that were quite noisy to walk in, and my roommate, who had bipolar disorder and was super spunky, said “Good for you, girl. The louder your shoes are, the more they’ll know they have to take you seriously.” Maybe I’ve lost sight of that, or maybe heels just don’t go well with yoga pants, but my footwear priority lately has been comfort, i.e. shoes that feel as much like slippers as possible.
I had curly hair when I was a toddler, but for most of my life I had straight hair with a little bit of a wave to it. After my current episode of depression began last year and my body in general went a little haywire, my hair decided it was time to change things up, and I now have curly hair. That has actually worked well with my depression. No more blowdrying to make sure it goes where I want it to go; now I just give it a quick scrunch and let it air-dry. Brushing it creates a frizzy explosion, so I just don’t. Spending money on getting a haircut isn’t a priority these days, so I just cut it myself, doing a crappy job that gets hidden in the bounce of curls.
I was never a full-face makeup kind of girl, but I used to enjoy playing around with eye makeup. Experimenting with colours was fun, and I always thought I looked more awake with makeup on. But now nothing is fun, and while I’ll sometimes wear some makeup for work because I feel like I should push myself, I really just don’t care any more.
I feel like I have aged significantly in the past two years. I look in the mirror and see someone much older than I expect staring back at me. My depression has affected my body in multiple ways, and I think it shows in the lines on my face. I used to smile often, but that’s just not the case any more. I have eczema, which primarily affects my hands and tends to be triggered by stress as well as general imbalance in my body. My hands are a mess much of the time lately, and when I have open sores it makes me feel pretty self-conscious.
So there it is, my depression style à la shaggy buffalo. It may not be pretty, but hey, we’ve gotta prioritize as best we can, and things that make me feel better on the inside are always going to be more important than what’s happening on the outside.