My Depression Style (or Lack Thereof)

my depression style - shaggy buffalo
shannonsmith on Pixabay

While many of depression’s effects are invisible, it has also changed the way I look on the outside, with depression style being a lot less presentable.  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 my depression style becomes more along the lines of 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 my depression style means living 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 tank top 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.

Footwearhigh heeled boots - not a fit for my depression style

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 style.  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 anymore.


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 anymore.  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.

book cover: Managing the Depression Puzzle by Ashley L. Peterson

Managing the Depression Puzzle takes a holistic look at the different potential pieces that might fit into your unique depression puzzle. It’s available on Amazon and other online retailers, as well as the MH@H Store.

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36 thoughts on “My Depression Style (or Lack Thereof)”

  1. I am right there beside you on basically all of this. Except the hair. Mine is wavy and requires way too much maintenance, so I chopped it all off. Curly would be great though.

  2. I’ve so been there!! I gained 60 pounds, which I began shedding 2 year’s ago, wore sweat pants and hoodies for 2 years straight or yoga pants with a tee shirt in the summer. This was during the worst of my depression. Since then I’ve spruced up quite a bit with the help of my mother. It helps me to feel better on the inside because I do it for myself rather than for other’s. It’s ok. With time it’ll get better. The holes in the crouch….. Lol!!

  3. Thanks for being honest about this part of your experience! Do you think you’ll adjust your appearance when you go into remission? I mostly wear what I call “formal pajamas”, lol.

    1. I think once I’m able to care a bit more I’ll make more of an effort again. Back when it used to be that when I felt better about myself on the outside it helped me feel good on the inside.

      1. I’m definitely at a point that I’m much more concerned with how I feel on the inside, and outside may or may not register. Other part of that is I’ve gained about 40 lbs on the antidepressant I’ve been weaning off of, and most of my “real clothes” don’t fit!

  4. I can totally relate, down to the eczema. I also had long, curly hair, which was too much for me to take care of, so I got it chopped off.

  5. I also relate to a lot of this post.

    I have two lines between my eyebrows that I HATE and I actually will tell people (in a TMI fashion, of course) they’re my “bipolar lines” – bipolar caused them to appear, as far as I’m concerned!

    I really appreciate your honesty and attention to details throughout the post.
    And the shaggy buffalo picture/remark really got me going! 😜 p.s. I love your TMI – don’t stop!

    1. I kind of blame my bipolar for the deep vertical line between my eyebrows, too. A while back some friend said I could botox it, but I decided to do something cheaper. I got bangs cut.

  6. I never was good about any of this stuff anyhow, probably partly because I have Aspergers, but depression makes it even worse. The biggest toll on my appearance has been in grooming habits. I used to shower/wash my hair every single day and early in the day. Now I’m lucky if I wash my hair every other day and sometime before dinner. CFS has definitely added to the issues as well.

  7. I’m with you just about everything especially the heels and skin! Heels will be the death of me. Flat shoes are a girl’s best friend. As for skin, ugh 😒 thanks for sharing the truth about life with this mental illness! 🙌

  8. When I was depressed for the longest period, my weight went up up up because of Depakote and Invega. Horrible! Though I did wear a pair of jeans sometimes, I mostly wore sweat pants. I was home on disability so it didn’t matter. I rarely went out except to buy some Reese’s peanut butter cups, so my shoes were a pair of Birkenstocks. My hair looked horrible. I looked horrible!

    After my depression faded, I was mostly either hypomanic or relatively stable, with just some periods of depression. I lost 35 lbs, started spending money on the best hairstylist, bought sexy jeans and blouses, and high heels. All of this, plus hypomanic flirtation, made me feel like the most beautiful woman in town. Hypomania and mania can do that. Actually, other than a deep wrinkle between my eyebrows, which I hide with bangs, I feel like I look younger than my depression year. It’s amazing what wellness can do.

      1. Congrats on losing the weight! If you’re still hoping to lose more, I hope you get to your goal.

        I have gained back about half of the weight I lost, but it took 8 years to do so. For most of those years I was on a very weight friendly bipolar medication cocktail. As some weight friendly meds were eliminated, my not perfectly weight friendly Seroquel XR dose went up. At lower and medium doses of Seroquel XR, I found it weight neutral, but higher doses made me very very hungry. I’m now on a medium dose of 450 mg. That seems weight neutral again. I would like to lose the weight I regained, not as much for vanity sake, but to lower my cholesterol and trigylcerides. It’s funny, I’ve been this weight even before bipolar meds, but without high cholesterol and trigylcerides. I assume this change is a combination of aging (I’m now in my mid-40s) and maybe Seroquel XR.

        1. I’m on Seroquel 600mg as well as mirtazapine and lithium, so I don’t think I’ll go back to my pre-meds weight, but my naturopath has got me trying to stick to an anti-inflammatory diet, and besides taking some weight off it’s helped me to feel healthier in my body.

  9. “jeggings” are my trick to look like I am wearing jeans instead of comfy leggings. They go good with flat heel riding boots, makes for a comfy winter trick.

    As for hair, I found a brand that hydrates my hair very well to the point that I have the same routine as yours, wash, hair dry, the end (wavy to curly hair).

      1. Mine are terrible at the moment but I haven’t been leaving the house much so almost no one sees me. I feel self-conscious but I feel like the beauty salon is too far away, it’s weird. Maybe I should just go to a spa under my house since that is easier. I don’t like to walk outside alone,

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