‘You have your nails and hair done, you can’t possibly be suicidal,’ is what I was told. A lot.’: Woman urges ‘mental illness does not look the same on everyone’

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“Last year, when my depression was at its worst, and I tried to take my own life, I still got my nails done. My hair done. My eyelashes done.

‘You can’t possibly have depression or be suicidal. You have your nails and hair done,’ is what I was told a lot.

Sure, all you can see are my nails done.

But what you don’t see, is how I nearly slept through my appointments because all I wanted to do is sleep.

You don’t see how I was literally forced into getting them done because I was told it would ‘help’ with my depression.

I was told I needed to make normal everyday appointments to help me.

Having my nails done didn’t change anything, except that I had nails on.

Having my hair done, after not brushing it for days, changed nothing. Except that I had my hair done.

Depression does not look the same on everyone.

I know, I know, when you think of it, you probably think of the girl who lays in bed all day, looks a mess, and doesn’t shower.

I was that girl, but I was also the girl who had her nails done.

My nail appointments were little slivers of hope to the people around me: I was getting into a routine. I was leaving the house. I was socializing and being a part of society again.

For me, it was just another appointment I had to crawl out of the house for.

A few months later, when I went to meet my psychiatrist at the hospital for an update and a re-fill on my meds, he looked at me.

I had my hair freshly done, (which I barely missed because I was planning on sleeping through it again) my nails freshly filled, a cute outfit on, and with tons of makeup.

‘You look like you’re feeling a lot better!’ he said.

Little did he know, it was my birthday.

I didn’t feel great at all. But I had put all the strength I had into looking the part for my 25th birthday.

That night ended early with my feeling mentally drained from hearing, ‘You look like you’re feeling so much better!’

I was not.

A few months after I had stuck it out with intense therapy, my medication, and re-arranging my life, I was finally, really, feeling better.

I still had my nails done. My hair done. My eyelashes done.

Nothing about that ever changed how I felt on the inside.

It only changed what you saw on the outside.

Now, over a year later, my depression is better. I don’t have those thoughts as often.

Every time I get my nails done, I look at them. I smile. As I finally feel inside what I look like on the outside.

But it also serves as a reminder. To me, and to those around me who thought what’s on the inside must always be matching on the outside.

Let this also be your reminder. Depression is hidden well. It won’t look like someone you know on a lot of people. You will miss it, mistake it, and ignore it.

Don’t assume everyone matches on the inside with how they appear on the outside.

We have no idea what people are hiding deep down.

My nails remind me of that now, every day.”

Courtesy of Caitlin Fladager

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Caitlin Fladager, and originally appeared here. You can follow her journey on Facebook and InstagramSubmit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more from Caitlin:

‘I started telling my 5-year-old, ‘I can’t wait to meet the boy or girl you bring home to mommy when you grow up.’ I always get shocked eyes.’: Mom says ‘I want my children to know I will always love them’

‘At 22, I had two kids and still couldn’t drive. Every time a car got behind me, I had to pull over and cry.’: Woman battling anxiety says ‘don’t let anyone make you feel less for not driving’

‘I’m the backpack of the family. I carry all of your things. Put it all on me. Physically, and mentally.’: Mom pens sweet letter to children, ‘I love being your safe space’

‘Anxiety is just in your head.’ ‘It’s not as bad as you make it out to be.’ This is what anxiety looks like. My raw, scratched up face and chest.’: Woman candidly shares the reality of anxiety

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