You’ve spent the last couple of weeks in hiding; you’ve become a recluse. You spent your days sleeping, eating junk, and binge-watching the entire series of Friends (or maybe Seinfeld if’s you are one of *those* people). You’ve finally started to climb out of the darkness, though: things are finally seeming more stable. You are finally starting to climb out of this most recent depressive episode.
Maybe nobody noticed. Maybe your small stretches of the truth that you were “busy” actually fooled your friends. Now that you’re working your way back out of the hole, slowing reaching towards the surface, there are some things that you are doing that people may not realize are because you are recovering from this depressive episode.
1. Your sleep patterns are different than normal.
You’ve had your “adult” sleep schedule down to a science for years, always going to bed around 8:30 PM and waking up around 5:30 AM. You hit a wall about two weeks ago, though, and started spending lots of extra time in the bed, attempting to shut the world out for just a few hours longer. Unfortunately, even now that you are starting to feel “better,” it still takes a while to synchronize. You may become overwhelmed during the day and take a nap, but that leaves you feeling energized and staying up late. If nobody realized you were depressed, though, they won’t notice your weird sleep patterns that go on for weeks, right? (Although they might question why you are suddenly posting on Instagram at 1:00am…)
2. You’ve suddenly become very sentimental.
You suddenly find yourself reaching out to your friends, craving their attention after isolating yourself for a few weeks. It might be something as simple as texting them every day just to “check in,” or sending them a lengthy letter and random care package “just because.” You might even be overly physically affectionate, giving even more hugs and asking for cuddles at random times. Everyone may think you are just being extra loving, but you know the reality is that you are thankful you didn’t lose those that you love and want to make sure they know how much they mean to you in case next time you don’t make it out of the low.
3. You find yourself getting easily overwhelmed or emotional.
You might not have completely stabilized yet, so your moods are still in a state of flux, and the scales can be tipped with the simplest of events. Things may make you cry more than normal, or you may suddenly “need a moment” to calm yourself if you start to feel angry or anxious. You seem thrown off by sudden or loud noises, an overload of information to process takes even longer than usual, and making a simple mistake can start you down the spiral. Nobody sees this but you.
4. Your appetite is all over the place.
One day you may eat everything in sight, then you later spend the next two days living off almost nothing. You get excited at the look of a meal, then take a bite and decide you can’t finish. That’s kind of how the world is for several days when you come out of a very low phase: colors are still dulled, smells are less intense, everything seems to be turned down several notches more than normal.
5. You start spamming social media with motivational shit.
You are usually a very open person. When you get low, it shows, especially with my social media posts. As you try to get back to a place of normalcy, you look to affirmations, motivational quotes, or any small reminders that you think will keep me moving upward. You then become so enamored with these positive posts that you tend to share them daily for at least a week. Everyone sees it as your usual way of looking out for everyone else and taking care of those around you; nobody realizes that all the motivational posts are really just for you.
6. You avoid being alone.
Being alone tends to always be dangerous for you, especially as you recover from a depressive episode. You avoid telling people, “It’s not safe for me to be by myself,” but you make a very conscious effort to either have people physically near you or reach out electronically when you know you’ll be physically alone for an amount of time. People serve both as a distraction and as a safety net, so people are important to have nearby as you work hard to improve.
7. You listen to music constantly.
One of the best ways to regulate and try to control emotions is through music. You were told to use music to help you stay mindful, to stay energized, to stay active. Pop & dance music from the 1990s-2010s are where it’s at if you want to feel happy and pumped up, so people will hear you blasting JT or Ke$ha and just think you are in a particularly good mood or feeling like kicking it “old school.”
8. You buy something new, even if you don’t really need it.
Retail therapy is real, and you take full advantage. Even just window shopping gets you out of the house, and a new outfit is just what you need to feel beautiful and love yourself again after this storm of depression. Everyone else just thinks you are wanting to feel sexy and they don’t suspect a thing.
9. You look for something to “get into.”
Your therapist said the best way to stay positive is to stay in the present and “out of your thoughts.” This means trying to stay busy. Picking up a new hobby, starting a new routine, or even just picking back up a craft you lost interest in while depressed can help. Your friends don’t seem to think anything of it because you are always the one who is trying new things and dragging them along.
10. You clean something.
You pride yourself on being organized, but that goes out the window as soon as you start to sink into a depression. You avoid anything that will overwhelm you, and your energy is so low that even a simple task like loading the dishwasher requires a break after you finish. Once you start to feel better, though, the messes you’ve let pile up enrage you and they must go. You don’t even want people to know there was a mess in the first place, because that would be embarrassing.
Depression can hit anyone at any time. While there can be some typical symptoms, the way that depression looks on everyone can be very different. This means that the behavioral “signs” of recovery can also vary greatly. These 10 items are all very small actions or signs, and they may seem like normal things that most people do and go mostly unnoticed. Self-awareness is important, though, so if you suffer from depression, it might be good to think about the ways that depression and the climb back out will look on you. Knowing these small details can make a difference in your life and even help those around you begin to recognize what you need a little easier.