Last night, I inhaled a third pounder Angus burger from McDonald’s and sobbed uncontrollably at the same damn time. And that was the highlight of my day.

Why? Because the rest of the day was spent not doing anything at all.  So as terrible as the act of simultaneously binge eating and crying was, it was better than nothing.

And that is what most of my days over the past few weeks have consisted of: absolutely nothing. Because this latest bout with depression has made even the most mundane of activities excruciatingly difficult. Instead of doing stuff, I sleep, cry, eat and wonder why I can’t at least be symptomatic of depression in a “loss of appetite” kind of way.

I won’t get into the myriad of things that has triggered this current episode but I’ll sum it up by saying this: I don’t feel smart or interesting or funny or confident or charming or pretty or sexy or sexual or talented or hardworking or ambitious or any of the other things that make Shayla Shayla on even her most mediocre day. I am the worst version of myself that I have ever been and I cannot stand it. And the only people more dissatisfied with me than I am are, well, every person that I know.

“Yo, what’s wrong with you?” my best friend snapped a few months ago.  “You don’t seem like you.”

That sounds like concern right? Well maybe a fraction of that was, but I know my best friend and I know the furrowed brow, flared nostrils, and snarled upper lip that accompanied her question. That collection of involuntary movements is her stank face and it manifests when someone either annoys or disgusts her. Here, with the help of my wordlessness and hobo chic ensemble, I have managed to accomplish both.

I don’t even bother trying to come up with the words to describe what is wrong with me because, honestly, I just don’t know. So there’s more awkward silence and more ugly contortions of my BFF’s otherwise lovely face.

And then there’s my mother.

“You can’t keep doing this,” is her favorite line. The “this” being, ironically, the “absolutely nothing” I mentioned earlier. The sight of me moping around the house in my holey sweats is visually offensive and she’s tired of looking at me. She can’t understand why I can’t just choose to be happy, slap on a smile, and conquer the world.  As if I enjoy being this miserable.

 

image

This is what gray with an “a” looks like.

My mom is at her wits end. “What’s the matter with you?”

“I just don’t like myself right now,” is how I decide to describe it. “It’s like I’m usually magenta or teal or yellow — and right now I just feel gray.” And not even the sophisticated, classy English grey with the “e.” I’m the lazy frumpy American gray with an “a.”

“Well, which shade are you? There’re 50 of them, ya know.” That’s supposed to make me smile, but it doesn’t.

“Whichever’s the fattest.” I shrug. “And least fashionable.”

Now, I have no doubt that the people who love me are genuinely concerned. I know for a fact that they are. But they are also frustrated.

They’re frustrated because the normal me is funny and talkative and entertaining — and generally fucking awesome — and right now I’m just pathetic and not living up to any of those expectations. I mean, I’ve never been Ms. Sunshine. I’ve always been a cynical asshole, but I’m usually a cynical asshole who smiles, laughs, cracks jokes and brushes her hair. But now it’s as if the personality and propensity for basic grooming habits have been sucked clean out of me. I can’t blame people for being frustrated with me. I’m frustrated with myself.

But, more than anything, they’re frustrated because they think that I’ve given up and I’m not fighting for the person I’m supposed to be. So maybe not frustrated. They’re probably just plain ol’ pissed. And even though I understand why, it still hurts.

Because I haven’t given up. I don’t have any immediate plans to stay this way. This is an episode, one that will eventually pass with the proper tools to combat depression. Not shame, or judgment, or confrontation, or impatience, or dirty looks, or exhausted demands to just “snap out of it.” I need time and treatment, support and understanding.

So, yes, I know I’m not much fun to be around right now. I may even be irritating. But making me feel bad about feeling bad isn’t going to make me feel any better.

This post originally appeared on XOJane. Republished with permission. Click here for more Shayla on XOJane! 

  • Beautiful Mic

    Exactly! Thank you!

  • jenny

    Oh my goodness you need to see a doctor asap you have depression it doesn’t have you so stop complaining get out those holy sweats and see a doctor asap so u can feel better and get on with life

  • apple

    im depressed but i have found that no one cares about it. people only care about themselves..so i stop telling them and keep it inside…everyday i want to pour out and saying “i hate myself, i hate my life, i want to die” but no one cares… i have no mouth and i must scream.

  • http://theblackgirloncampus.blogspot.com Peace

    Honestly…having people irritated with my depression was what forced me out of it. Depression is an ugly thing and nothing anyone should deal with or remain in for any extended period of time. I know the reaction sucks, but so does depression.

    I hope you feel better soon.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    depression is a serious mental illness that is made even worse by ignorance…..

  • cabugs

    Sounds like quite the situation you have there. And it sucks, I know. I say you’re already taking a good step to feeling better – talking/writing about it. And your words are beautiful. Don’t stop writing! Either privately or for publication. It will help you sort out what you are feeling and why you are feeling that way. I am not any wise sage, doctor, or therapist so I don’t know what else to say from here, except good luck through these low times. I believe you will come out better :)

    P.S. You are so absolutely stunning even though you currently feel like the fattest and least fashionable, frumpy American gray. I want to steal those beautiful eyes and eyebrows right off your face so I can be as beautiful as you are!

  • Nicole

    Hmmmmm Im trying to word this carefully.

    People would probably be more willing to listen if you didnt say things like ” I hate myself, I hate my life, I want to die”

    My 8 year old nephew says things like that (before he slams his bedroom door) when I turn his xbox off and tell him to read a book.

    Maybe you should try to articulate a little more maturely and say something like “Im unhappy with myself because…..” or “Im unhappy with my life because….” or “Im suicidal but I want to live; I just need someone to there for me”

  • Someonewhoknows

    One word: psychopharmacology. I recommend Wellburtin, as it has an appetite curbing effect. But seriously, when it gets to foregoing basic hygene, it is time to see a doctor. Take it from someone who fought the ‘I can snap out of it myself’ battle and lost.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    you are not helpful….

  • http://valsotherblog.wordpress.com Val

    @Apple

    Hang in there. And, find a professional to talk to. It may take a few tries to find a professional you’re comfortable with but don’t give up. It will be worth it to you in the long run. Also, people do care.

  • EST. 1986

    I understand. People do not care, nor do they try to understand. They just write you off as having a negative disposition. And then it’s like, no matter how hard you try not to be negative, you just can’t because it has become part of your personality.

  • EST. 1986

    I’m no doctor, but it doesn’t sound like you had depression, but maybe you just felt ‘blue’, because someone who is truly suffering from depression cannot be ‘forced’ out of it because of the annoyance of others.

  • Medusa

    I’m sorry for what you’re going through. I’ve been there too. You should see a therapist near you ASAP.

  • Apple

    @nicole I’m usually really poetic when I express the darkness consuming my soul and festering my mind and body. *sarcasm*

  • Apple

    I agree. Now I just say things in a joking matter(think the tv show House) . Means I can get it out with pissing people off .

  • ….

    “I agree. Now I just say things in a joking matter(think the tv show House) . Means I can get it out with pissing people off ”

    @apple Why would you want to express yourself in a way that would piss people off?

  • Apple

    I said if I say it in a joking matter people don’t get pissed off. When I express the sadness they get annoyed/pissed(maybe pissed was the wrong word)

  • http://gravatar.com/lovegiraffes onegirl

    At least you ate an angus burger. I remember your last post where you said you weren’t eating and your hair was falling out. I think you need to get to a doctor ASAP for ALL your ills.

    I’m not sure if you are just writing this stuff to have stories to write or you are serious. Either way, hope you get better.

  • ….

    @Apple Oh okay…my bad

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    @apple : depression is of the most common and studied mental illnesses.
    there is a wealth of information and help available. why don’t you get yourself some?

  • TRUTH

    see that is why people dont get help because people make fun.. please ignore people that dont know better

  • jourdan

    I really hope you feel better! Take everything one step at a time and things will get easier for you.

    Also, just some things that work for me: try to eat some good healthy fruits, vegetables, etc. so that you don’t feel fat! Usually eating really bad foods makes me feel guilty and even sadder. Talking to a professional would also be better than talking to a friend or someone who probably won’t understand what you’re going through. My therapist had a really effective way of reaching me and the source of the problem unlike my friends/family I tried to confide in!
    Good luck!

  • emme

    I am right there with you sister. My friends went so far as to throw an intervention on me which was basically them telling me how my attitude problem was affecting them. Needless to say it was not effective, I spent the next 2 hours in the bathroom of Houston’s (yes my intervention was at a restaurant) crying my eyes out. I think me condition/ illness not only affects my family but it then makes my depression even worse because I cant seem to get them to understand either. All I can say to them is “im just not in a good space today and unfortunately there is nothing you can do about it” and I keep it moving. Most of the time I am on auto pilot just to get through the day other times it just takes me over. Good luck sis!

  • apple

    i can’t afford it ..should have got it in college when it was free

  • Eri

    Can you check to see if your city or town has psychotherapists who charge on a sliding fee scale or a Community Mental Health clinic? Even going to the doctor and telling them how depressed you are – they might prescribe you some antidepressants or be able to refer you to a low-cost therapist. None of this is free, but it doesn’t have to be hugely expensive, either. Good Luck and take care.

  • Eri

    I don’t think my last comment posted, sorry if it shows up twice. Can you find a psychotherapist in your area that will charge you on a sliding fee scale? There are also Community Mental Health clinics that may do the same. If you tell your physician how you’ve been feeling he or she may prescribe an antidepressant or refer you to a therapist. None of these options are free, but shouldn’t be hugely expensive. Good luck and take care.

  • tee

    I Know how you feel, been there and I think I’m slowly sinking into it again. Maybe it never went away, maybe I’ve been pretending to be ok all along because of shame. But nothing anyone says ever makes it feel better. I hope you conquer it, and I wish you well. :)

  • Courtney**

    There might be some depression support groups in your area. Try resources like NAMI (http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=find_support) or meetup.com. There’s always online places like http://www.depressionforums.org/

  • movedtospeak

    Depression sucks and I know because this sounds like me working through the same thing. I appreciate you speaking so real and open and honest about your struggles.

    I feel shame about it. And going to church, I feel shame about it because I’m supposed to trust in God and praise God enough to not be depressed.. I find myself looking outside myself objectively to say we can’t just ignore mental illness among African Americans especially among African American women. I remember being in the position of being annoyed with a friend who has dealt with depression all the time I’ve known her, but now I understand. And perhaps this is a time (I still feel all things are for a purpose) to understand and put myself in someone’s shoes.

    I fight the feeling that this makes me less valuable or not enough. I think there is less empathy for African American women because we are supposed to be strong and confident and driven and accomplished. To exhibit weakness is more unacceptable and damaging than it is for others with more privilege. There is no time for pity parties for women of color. How much sucking it up is done without really healing ourselves and our issues. How much more whole we as a people could be if we were offered support without stigma for our emotional and mental health.

    I also realize that this has happened over and over again to me over the years. Some of this is because I am facing real world stressful issues and because I have yet to overcome whatever mind chatter is in my head that pulls me beneath the life I want to live that’s within my control. (I also know we sometimes sanely react to a world that’s sick.) I realize this is something that I must better handle. Writing helps (as it has triggered my rambling academic self). Prayerfully, you and I get the help we need. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    @apple : you have to make a decision if you want to improve or not. money is not a barrier, motivation is.

  • She

    I have definitely been there! Several times before. I have struggled with depression on and off since I was 13. I am 30 now. I only recently decided to see a therapist and I’m considering starting an antidepressant. I encourage anyone feeling this way to get help. Going through it alone just makes it worse, on top of the lack of understanding from friends and family. God bless

  • Ms. Information

    Depression is real…sitting in depression will lead to suicide eventually….too bad that you don’t have people in your life to lift you because that it what it takes….you are a Christian, read your bible daily, if not, read another spiritual book that can lift you and show you alternative ways to think about what you are going through….I pray that depression lifts from you.

  • Penny

    My mom struggles with severe depression and I admit, I get frustrated with her. I have to remind myself that she has been there for me my entire childhood; it’s my turn to be there for her. I wish that more people had a better understanding of depression. It’s not something that people can just snap out of; it’s like a personal, thick fog that just won’t seem to clear away. It’s a customized fog that pretty much stays as long as it wants and often, medication can make it worse or just more tolerable. I know this because I have struggled with mild depression without even realizing it. I suspect that my mom suffered from mild depression in her younger years. Her severe depression started when she was in her late 40′s.

    Also, maybe I could be way off, but is it possible that you are bipolar? I ask because I am reading a book about someone who is bipolar (Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me: A Graphic Memoir” by Ellen Forney) and some of what you describe sounds a lot like what the author experiences. If you have episodes of being funny, talkative and entertaining, but you also have episodes of being really low, then I wonder if you are bipolar. My mom is depressed ALL of the time. I have not seen her talkative or bubbly in decades. If you get the chance, read the book. If graphic images offend you, then don’t read it; she has some wild things in there! LOL. But I hope you read it. It has really opened my eyes and I am starting to see depression and bipolar disorder in a whole new way.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    “I feel shame about it. And going to church, I feel shame about it because I’m supposed to trust in God and praise God enough to not be depressed..”

    you mean good Christians don’t get sick? that is not rational.
    go get some help.

  • EST. 1986

    As a non-religious person, that statement greatly bothered me. Depression and ‘praising God’ have nothing to do with each other.

  • http://theblackgirloncampus.blogspot.com Peace

    No….I was depressed. People’s comments forced me to get professional help.

  • Ooh La La

    Ummm?… Often people with depression are experiencing chemical imbalances in their brains. You can read all the ‘uplifting’ proverbs and have all the therapy you can imagine, but if your mind is not in a state to internalize any outside support, nothing helps.

    My mom was depressed for two years. She is also a pastor who obviously has strong spiritual foundation. But it was not until she sought out a psychiatrist and began a regimen of anti-depressants that she really started to recover.

    It’s time we get real about the illnesses in our community. Don’t just try to ‘pray it away.’ Seek help.

  • Ms. Information

    That’s not what I was saying……in ADDITION to other methods…the author did not say if she was seeking counseling or on medication….I did not say that it would CURE anything. Changing one’s mind state may take medication, it may take counseling and it also helps to read information and gain knowledge about what you are going through…nobody told her to pray it away.

  • mEE

    my s/o (actually my past 2…I should probably look into what that says about me) struggles with depression. it’s EXHAUSTING. I try to be there for him as much as possible when he’s “going through it” but it always ends up taking so much out of me. I’m not saying at all that it’s even an iota of what he’s feeling or going through…but it’s still a lot. and sometimes, I’m ashamed to say, my frustration comes out as anger. it’s very rare because I’ve learned to curb it and take the time away for myself when I feel like I can’t handle it…but like I said it’s a lot.

    I also work with ED (emotionally disturbed) students and my coping skills at work have greatly helped in my relationship. the crappiest part is feeling like you want to help but nothing you do makes a difference. it violates not only our logic but also that intrinsic part of us that makes us feel like we’re a valuable human being. if I know that when I do A it’s supposed to lead to B, but every time I do A with you I get C or D or Z…it’s jarring and can make you feel worthless and inept. it took me years to be cognizant of the baby steps that were being made because I was too busy being focused on that final result and how we seemed to never get there.

    so…I agree with most other comments that you should get help. particularly because the absolute last thing you want is to alienate your family and friends because they aren’t equipped to deal with your current issues. similarly to how it isn’t fair to you for them to expect you to snap out of it because it’s annoying/frustrating/tiring for them; it isn’t fair for you to expect them to deal with the toll your depression has on their life day in and day out.

  • Reds

    As an MD and someone who has been where you are -so depressed that I was camped out on the floor in my bedroom, I had no energy to make it to my bed-you need treatment. Depression like any other MEDICAL ILLNESS deals with the dysfunction of a particular system, in this case neurotransmitter signalling in your brain. It’s not just “feeling low” as some people want to tell you and you cant “snap” out of it without treatment. There are defined criteria that psychiatrists use to diagnose bipolar disoders, depression etc and until you’ve seen one I wouldnt try to self-diagnose or treat because you need PROFESSIONAL help. I understand cost is an issue, but nothing is going to change if you keep doing the same thing. That’s the depression talking. It seems the people in your life arent equipped to appropriately help you get the treatment you need. So you just have to do it yourself. Look into resources online to get access to mental health clinics in your area that can help provide low cost care. Many of the first line antidepressants like the SSRIs are off patent and are cheaper. The only successful treatment for depression is combined medication and counseling to help deal with negative thought patterns. After doing both over the course of years consistently I havent had another bout with depression and Im back to being the functional, energetic, fun person I am at baseline. Dont let depression (or mental illness in general) rob you of who you are.

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    oh my god apple i feel the same way. today was one of those “time to pick out a casket and make a will” days!

    so many of my friends and family don’t want to hear it because they think that i’m just fishing for compliments, being lazy, or that i want to be negative. they don’t want to hear what i have to say anymore so i don’t say anything.

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