Recently I had an interaction with a friend that really shook me up, I could go as far to say it broke my confidence (what little I have at the moment) but, I should start with some backstory.
For the last few months I have been trialling Paxil (antidepressant – SSRI) which has had a huge sedative effect on me, this left me sleeping somedays for close to 20hours, barely able to make it out of bed to eat something let alone do ANYTHING else. This has obviously had a huge impact on my mental well-being and ended up doing a lot more harm that good (much cry, very depression). Im currently in the process of switching back onto Zoloft (fingers crossed).
During this time period my self esteem dropped. The extreme amount of exhaustion I was experiencing left me unable to take care of myself. I didn’t have the energy to shower daily, I was only able to brush/wash my hair once a week (at most) and forget about makeup or dressing nice. The days that I had to leave the house (which were few and far between) I would always feel so ashamed and embarrassed about how I looked. I would internally experience extreme amounts of anxiety over leaving the house.
About one week ago I organised to see some friends at a pub, I was excited because (coming off of Paxil) I had more energy than I had in a long time. I showered, washed my hair and straightened it and put on an outfit that was comfortable (black sports tights, my favourite wool sweater and a coat). This was a huge achievement for me and for the first time in weeks I left the house and didn’t feel embarrassed about how I looked.
Unfortunately this is when the negative interaction happened, someone who was supposed to be a friend started picking on me for not being dressed up enough, commenting on the fact that I was wearing sports tights to a pub. Honestly I didn’t know what to say, this interaction was extremely hurtful. I had felt so proud of myself because I had for the first time in a very long time been able to get myself out of bed to go and be social and I had put in more effort into my appearance than what I had previously been capable of. Over the course of a 30 second period my whole confidence was shook, for someone who knows my journey to be so critical of external appearances because they weren’t at their ‘standard’ of whats acceptable broke me.
Now I’m going to shelve the rest of that interaction because I am so aware of how ‘ranty’ its beginning to sound but I needed to share because there is an ugly side of depression. The side of depression that many people (myself included up until – today) feel ashamed to talk about. I always found it humiliating to tell anyone how incapable I become of taking care of myself, my mind always says ‘but you should be able to just shower, like, it’s only a bloody shower for gods sake’. Whereas the reality is that a simple task like showering once a day is not something that is in the realm of possibility when you’re in the midst of a depression. I wish I could go back a week and tell my friend at the time that I hadn’t showered for days, that I had spent days without being able to leave my house due to my crippling depression but I was too scared of the judgement that might be passed. That I would just be ‘gross’ or ‘lazy’ so instead, today I’m writing about it. Taking the first step to start talking about the uglier truths of depression that always want to be hidden and never talked about.
My name is Rachel Bradley and I celebrate every time I have to energy and strength to shower, to wash my hair, to brush my teeth and to leave the house!
If you have a friend who is going through mental illness celebrate these little victories with them because to me, they’re not little victories, they’re a fucking big deal!
If you are going through this at the moment, reach out, let me know. Lets celebrate the ‘small’ wins together because I know that these are not small tasks in the face of depression.