MH@H Depression

What Depression Looks Like on the Outside

shaggy buffalo

Depression has had a big impact on the inside, but it’s also made a few changes in how I look on the outside. Some of these are under my control, but others aren’t. They started off as changes that I thought might be temporary, but I’ve come to accept that’s not the case. In this post, I’ll tell you what depression looks like for me.

Changes in me

Depression face

I feel like my face has gotten to look a lot older over the last few years. I used to wear makeup on a regular basis. Now I can’t even remember the last time I wore makeup. It sits in a drawer in the bathroom and I think maybe I should just throw most of it out. But then a little voice says maybe I’ll wear it next year… except that elusive next year never comes.

Oh, and eyebrows? Goodbye tweezers, hello Amazon woman.

Eye contact feels uncomfortable and/or tiring, so I avoid it unless it seems necessary.

Depression hair

When this episode of depression started about 3 years ago, my hair turned from straight to curly.  It’s still curly, and mostly up in a ponytail or bun. I don’t remember the last time I blowdried my hair. Since I don’t care sufficiently to be bothered going to a hair salon, I just cut my own hair.

I shave my legs every so often because I think my massage therapist will judge me if I have full-on furry legs. I’m sure it makes no difference to her, but unless things are really grim, I try to keep it up.

Depression body

My meds make me fat. I’ve accepted that. I’m not keen on how that weight has been concentrated on my abdomen, though. At least I haven’t had anyone commenting on me being pregnant lately; that was an issue for a while a few years back. My boobs are much bigger than they used to be, but that’s more annoying than anything.

The body has gotten particularly large over the last few months, as my poor physical health has meant I’ve been very sedentary. I have far more chins than I ever used to have before.

Changes in what I wear

There’s been a substantial change in what I put on my body from non-depressed life to now.

Depression clothes

My uniform is yoga pants or Gap maternity leggings, a tank top, and a long comfy cardigan. Gap’s maternity leggings seriously rock my world, and if they ever stop making them I will probably have to convert to an all-muumuu wardrobe.

I have jeans, but I don’t wear them.  Skirts I mostly just wear in the summer. I used to live in dresses, but now they only make an appearance occasionally for work. Goodbye bodycon; my current favourite dress is essentially a sack with a pattern on it.

Depression undergarments

I have some attractive underthings, but I don’t wear them. Basically if something isn’t comfortable enough to sleep in, I’m probably not going to wear it.

Depression footwear

Lithium makes me uncoordinated. I used to wear heels anyway. Now combine the lithium with the dizziness I’ve been having and I’m a walking disaster area. No more heels for me.

So, I’ve gone from being a woman with style (or at least some) to being more of a lump. Funny, the stylish woman seems like a whole other person I don’t know anymore, and the style-less lump feels much more comfortable and familiar.

Closet/identity thinning

Despite the changes in style, my closet still contains items from pre-treatment-resistant days. Some have already been discarded or donated because it doesn’t fit anymore, but other items still remain. I’m not running out of space, so that’s not an issue, but I’m someone who likes to have a minimal amount of stuff. If I can get rid of things, that’s always a positive.

The issue in this case, though, is it’s not so much the stuff itself and closet thinning, and more about identity thinning. I’m hesitant to get rid of as the possibility that I might turn back into the person who wore that stuff. A person who liked to dress up and liked that wearing heels made me carry myself with a more confident posture.

Right now, I have zero desire to do either of those things, because that’s not what my depression looks like. They continue to sit there, as a tribute to what I used to be, or at least what I used to do.

It’s funny the stories our clothes can tell about our lives.  And as time moves on, more closet and identity thinning will be required.

What does depression look like for you? Do you try for style, or have you embraced your inner lump?

book cover: Managing the Depression Puzzle, Second Edition, 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 Google Play.

45 thoughts on “What Depression Looks Like on the Outside”

  1. This post is so relevant to my situation. I was always slim and stylish and proud of it. With antidepressants I gained 20 pounds which wasn’t too bad and then another 20. So I have 40 excess pounds on my body which I feel do not belong to me. I have come to accept it but I still try to lose weight. Unfortunately, I simply do not have the energy, interest, vitality to stick to an exercise program. It bothers me although I want not to care. I wear makeup occasionally, and usually jeans. I worry mainly about my husband who once had such an attractive wife. But he always compliments me on my looks, no matter what. I don’t want to not care about my appearance but some days it is such a chore.

  2. Wow! Great post! The other side of the scale so similar! I’ve lost so much weight to depression that I have very little strength left and get dizzy regularly, even losing consciousness a few times. My clothes fell off of me, I can’t find many that fit, mostly having to shop in second hand stores in the juniors sizes. My underwear are juvenile prints because they do not make adult sizes small enough that are not outrageously expensive. Depression face, yeah, my face is drawn down like a basset hound now. Make-up? Only if I absolutely must. People in public see how thin I am and think I am on drugs or really sick, they act like I’m contagious. I understand how you feel, but from the opposite side. We can get through this, we’ve gotten through so much worse…right?

  3. I don’t think I knew what stylish was even before I was depressed! I try to be presentable. I try to shave most days, particularly if I’m working. I wear fairly smart trousers and polo shirts (non-work days) or formal shirts (work days and Shabbat); very rarely I wear t-shirts with images (usually if I’m going somewhere where people will appreciate a Doctor Who or Simpsons reference). I wear smart shoes because I don’t like trainers; likewise I avoid jeans because I’ve never liked them (always find them too stiff and uncomfortable – maybe an autism thing? I don’t know). I wear a suit on Shabbat, but otherwise only for job interviews. I guess that’s all fairly smart, but it’s also convenient. Being a guy I can get away with wearing the same small number of pairs of trousers, shirts etc. on rotation.

      1. This is one of those situations where there’s a divide between the modern Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox. The ultra-Orthodox dress very conservatively (mostly suits for the men, quite sober clothes for the women), the modern Orthodox much less so. I’m kind of in the middle. Although I think among ultra-Orthodox women the idea that one can be stylish while still dressing in a religious/non-sexy way is a bigger thing than it was a number of years ago. But I don’t really know about frum women…

  4. Ashley, I’ve got to admit…You made me laugh a bit through this entire post. Why? Because I can relate on so many levels of all of the above. I consider myself a lump, definitely! I’m still in my PJ’s and it closing in at 4 pm.
    The only time I wear makeup is on Holiday’s, and that’s only if I’m going out. The rest of the time, the face is naked.
    The only reason I get my hair done as often as I do is that my roommate’s sister is a hair designer. So, every two-three months it gets cut and styled. However, what happens after is a real shame. I’m lucky if I wash it three times a week.
    Eyebrows & Legs… Oh, hell no! ( I might have to start though since the weather is getting warmer) I don’t want to scare the dogs outside while walking my roommate’s dog around.
    I may be a lump, but I’m comfortable with it. Sad, but true.

  5. I’m LEGIT in tears right now… and I don’t believe I’ve laughed this hard in a super long time. This. Is. Me. And I’ve actually had weight loss surgery thinking that losing weight would be the cure-all for my depression, but alas, I was seriously mistaken! It’s comforting to know that I’m actually not alone. Thanks for sharing this. I think it’s incredibly brave and it makes me feel empowered to be more vulnerable myself. A much needed component in conquering this damn dragon living inside of me. Blessings.

  6. Besides the weight gain this time around, I am with you. Hair in a pants….yup. I don’t sleep during the day though I wish I could. I obsess if I will sleep at night. And have to force myself to eat. I hate it. Thanks for being honest about your depression.
    Do you live with anyone? Do you have family/friends? You are blessed if you do. I asked friends to hang last night even though I wasn’t feeling well….they declined. I went out with my brother today….although he was nice..he did say that he is going to start practicing tough love with me…. I’m lost. Alone.

    1. I live alone and pushed all my old friends out of my life a while back. Online is a major source of human contact for me these days. I’m alone a lot, but in many ways I prefer that because dealing with people is hard. xo

  7. My depression look a lot like yours. Makeup is not worth the trouble. Shaving is overrated. Undergarments are torturous. I work a full time day job and just being clean is tough enough. Forget stylish. I’m considering going gray. The effort of getting my roots done ever four weeks is too much not to mention expensive. I get home from work on Fridays and I don’t come up for air again until Monday mornings. Lately just getting to Friday spikes my anxiety. And to sleep through the night again would be a godsend. Whew! I feel better admitting all this.

      1. I fear the judgment. Rude comments are why I began dying it in the first place. We shall see if I’m brave enough.

  8. I have the awesomeness of a job where I’m basically wearing PJ’s all day anyway (and someone else washes them!), and my hair is covered so no-one will even notice if it isn’t brushed. As long as I don’t smell, it’s all good. 😛

  9. I’ve become very lazy as of late. I mean, I’m lazy in general but I find I’m more so in recent weeks. It’s hard to find the motivation to do anything that doesn’t necessarily need to be done. Sending hugs to you xxx

  10. LOVE this post. I’m a lot a lump. I occasionally put mascara on but only to feel better. Usually doesnt help and I end up looking like a racoon after a nap. Gorgeous. ❤

      1. I also feel so far from how I used to be. And right now Im not too worried about it.

  11. True. But Im a known spending energy on the wrong stuff kinda gal. Will try and keep it up though. ❤

  12. I can so relate! I live in yoga pants 90 percent of the time. Tank tops or loose t-shirts–you’d think it was my uniform. I actually do sleep in them some of the time too, completely violating my old distinction between what you wear in bed and what you wear in the world. Make-up comes out very rarely, but occasionally, if I’m set on minimizing the dark circles under my eyes. Blow drying my hair means I’m doing extraordinarily well that day. And my hair has become more curly too! But I had been attributing it to getting some grey hairs, which are coarser. The thing is, I don’t have a lot of grey, but I now have quite a bit of curly. Whatever. It’s usually in a pony tail anyway.

    I have also gained weight, sigh. Now that I’m on a strict keto-style diet, I am actually losing, but much more slowly than they say you are supposed to be losing on keto (10 pounds in about 8-9 weeks, not 10-15 pounds a month like the nutritionist told me is normal). I am not cheating at the diet, so I suspect the psych meds have something to do with it.

    These are not the most important things in life, it’s true. But sometimes when we are working so hard on loving ourselves, it would be nice to look a tad less frumpy, wouldn’t it?!?

  13. Preach it, sista! I’ve gained so much weight over a short amount of time that most of my clothes don’t fit me anymore, so I’m becoming frumpier by the day.

  14. You don’t have to accept these changes. Things can change, life can get better. I have developed anxiety on top of depression due to my meds. My anxiety is largely set off by large social situations, yet I hate being alone, catch 22, eh? I know this situation is temporary, we all just need to find the beauty that’s all around us. No matter how long it’s gone on for, we have the power to change our situation. We just have to unlock it from deep within. You will get there. I believe in you.

  15. I also find it difficult to lose the weight off the meds. It’s frustrating but I guess I’m not in the depression hole anymore so worth it. But salads are my best friend even though that gets boring after a while

  16. First, I would like to say that I feel your pain having suffered from depression all of my life with some times being worse than others. I would also like to say that I hope the cloud of this crummy feeling lifts from you soon! I never went through my appearance suffering from my depression and wonder if that is because I am a man. For me, it has always come out in other way ways like anger and being short tempered. I tend to project it outwards and also wonder if that is my personality or my gender. I wish you the best!

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