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Sweatpants & Sanity | 7 Lies Depression Tells

E by Erniestine

According to the National Institute of Medical Health, “Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness.

Depression is also a dirty liar. Its powers of persuasion rival that of a seasoned infomercial host, except that instead of a Rotato Potato Peeler or a miracle skin treatment made from crushed pearls and the tears of unicorns, what you end up buying are harmful and sometimes fatal thoughts.

Here are some of the biggest lies my depression has told me:

1. It's better if you just stay in bed.

Remember when you were a kid and you were convinced that the monsters couldn’t get you as long as you stayed in bed, under the covers? The under the covers part was key – leave a stray limb dangling over the side or let a foot poke out from the blanket and you could probably kiss it goodbye. Anyway, it’s kind of like that. Depression tells me that I’m safer in my nest of crumb-filled, unwashed sheets. It tells me that I’m broken or injured in some way, and like a woodland creature, I must remain in my grubby little lair while I heal. The thing is, it’s not better in there. And the longer I stay in bed, the stronger its gravitational pull becomes. I lie there like our cat after he crawled home from a fight with a gaping wound, unable to move or groom himself. He had us to clean him up and spread salve on his injuries. I long for someone to do the same for me, but I’m humiliated thinking about it. At some point, after a day or a week, I manage to drag myself up and out, but it’s like pulling myself out of a mud hole. Manageable, but there’s a lot of suckage.

2. It's not worth it to shower, especially if you're not going anywhere.

When the depression Death Star has you in its tractor beam, any movement is a challenge. The amount of energy I need to exert in order to perform normal, every day tasks is considerable, and it almost seems frivolous when I’m operating on emergency power to expend any of it on, say, washing my hair. Depression tells me it doesn’t matter, anyway. No one will see or care. Why bother? When this tape loop is running in my head, the simple act of bathing is radical; it is paradigm shifting. Rolling on deodorant, applying face cream, spritzing crème rinse onto my wildly tangled tresses – these things feel like a holy anointing. And they do matter, because when I force myself to attend to my body, I am grounded in it. I can momentarily escape the howl and focus on skin, hair, teeth – the minutiae of earthsuit maintenance.

3. Food will make it better. Or conversely: I don't deserve to eat.

Depression often tries to sell me on false remedies, like a snake oil hustler in a rickety wagon. Have some of this and your troubles will disappear! I’m Harry Potter, gobbling down chocolate bars in an attempt to stave off the Dementors. I get stoned off huge bowls of macaroni and cheese. When I went through a traumatic breakup in college and secretly stopped attending classes, one of my favorite things was to down a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream, scooping it into my mouth with potato chips. Or I’d go to Jack In The Box and get curly fries with ranch dressing and a couple of those cheesecake slices that are hermetically sealed in neat, plastic triangles. As long as I was stuffing food down, feelings didn’t come up (though sometimes the food later did). And then there are the times when I feel too loathsome to feed. I’ll choke down the odd granola bar and some water so I can function, but that’s all the effort I’m willing to make on my own behalf. I’m a saint in the desert, purifying myself of caloric sins. Depression for me means that eating is either mindless or fraught. To get by, I pretend that I am my own nanny – the sweet Mary Poppins kind, not one of the mean ones from reality TV – and that I have to make sure that my charge is nourished properly. Role-play and trickery are valuable tools in my get-through-depression toolbox.

4. No one will understand.

Yes, yes, lots of people have depression. Celebrities talk about it. There are books and articles and groups. But my depression tells me that I am special. Also, that I’m most likely a fraud. I don’t have the real sort of depression – the kind that actually deserves compassion. If I have any, it’s very slight. Sniffles versus tuberculosis. My problem is that I’m lazy and paranoid and weak. No one wants to hear about that, and if they did, they would never sympathize. Better to keep it to myself until I can get my shit together and stop being such a pathetic mess. My depression hates for me to talk to other people. It’s like an abusive boyfriend who doesn’t want me comparing notes with anyone who might put the idea in my head that I don’t deserve to feel this way. That I have any kind of power. Because something magical happens when I finally work up the stones to reach out: people reach back.

5. You have no talent and everything you do is shit.

Depression wants to know why I’d even bother. Why struggle so? Depression wants me to be still, and not in the mindful, meditative way. It wants me to stay stuck. It tells me that nothing I do is worthwhile or has value, and that anyone who says otherwise is just being nice. Basically, depression would have me believe that I have been living in a vast lifelong conspiracy involving a cast of thousands. Teachers, bosses, coworkers, family, friends, strangers on the internet – all masters of deception, bent on giving me a false sense of accomplishment for anything I’ve ever done. Depression likes me to think I am the piece of shit around which the world revolves. Sometimes, I have to say these fears aloud or write them down in order to see how completely farfetched they are. If it turns out my life is really The Truman Show, I’ll be pretty embarrassed, but for now, I have to trust that humans just aren’t capable of that level of organization.

6. No one will miss you.

See: vast lifelong conspiracy. Depression tells me that I am completely and utterly insignificant. It tells me that although people are kind to me and say that they love me, those folks are either insincere or deluded, and they really wouldn’t care if I just weren’t around anymore. Depression thoughtfully provides me with compliment-canceling ear buds, like the ones that filter out ambient noise, so all I can hear are the negative statements. According to depression, my absence would not only be unnoticeable, it would probably be a relief. In my darkest moments, this feels like inexorable truth, immutable as the revolution of the planets.

7. I will always feel this way.

Depression wants me to think it is deep and limitless, an ocean of emptiness. I will drown before I reach the shore, it tells me. Better to give in. But as I struggle and thrash, my legs wrapped with weights, I cling to the thought that every other time before this, every single time I thought I wouldn’t make it, I was wrong. Here I am, still treading water. I remember that if I let the wave take me, it will pass. All I have to do is wait it out.


I’ll probably always live with depression and its lies. I’ll always have to be vigilant about diet and fitness and medication, the way someone with chronic heart disease should be, but that’s okay. I’m writing these words from a place of health, standing on the rim of the caldera. I know the drop is there, but I’m not looking down. Today, right now, I have my feet planted, and I’m gazing out at the horizon.




Photo credit: Creative Commons License “E” by Erniestine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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About Nanea Hoffman (287 Articles)
Nanea Hoffman is the founder of Sweatpants & Coffee. She writes, she makes things, and she drinks an inordinate amount of coffee. She is also extremely fond of sweatpants. She believes in love, peace, joy, comfort, and caffeinated beverages.

9 Comments on Sweatpants & Sanity | 7 Lies Depression Tells

  1. Oh my gosh…This really hit home with me. I cried through every one because, well, this is my life right now. Actually this has ALWAYS been my life. It took reading this to realize just how depressed I really am, I guess I’ve been in denial? My hopes and dreams seem so unrealistic because of it. Like, in my favorite movie Practical Magic, when Sally is writing her letter to Gilli, she writes- “Sometimes I feel like there’s a hole inside of me, an emptiness that at times seems to burn. I think if you lifted my heart to your ear, you could probably hear the ocean. The moon tonight, there’s a circle around it. Sign of trouble not far behind. I have this dream of being whole. Of not going to sleep each night, wanting. But still sometimes, when the wind is warm or the crickets sing… I dream of a love that even time will lie down and be still for. I just want someone to love me. I want to be seen. I don’t know. Maybe I had my happiness. I don’t want to believe it but, there is no man, Gilli. Only that moon.”
    That letter has been the bane of my existence because I’ve been believing that I’m not worthy of ever having the kind of love I dream about….that I’m just a dreamer and I’m lazy and selfish for wanting more that what I already have in my life.
    I try to remind myself every day of my blessings but I can’t shake the feeling of emptiness, sadness, loneliness deep inside me. I’ve had a rough life to say the least and I try not to focus on that as much as I try and keep my focus on the good parts…but it seems the older I’m getting the sadder I become. Regret and guilt consume me and I can’t wake up from it. 10 years of anti-depressants and therapy along with ridicule from friends and family haven’t helped much….but I’m still here. I’m still trying. Even though I feel like I will forever remain trapped inside my somber little snow globe of a world… I still holding on to a shred of hope for better things to come.
    Anyway, thank you for posting this. I’m going to refer to it when I need to be reminded that I AM worth something. Thank you for helping women like me feel comfortable enough to write to you with such personal problems as well.
    Renee Shuster

    • Renee,

      I’m sorry to hear that you continue to struggle. I mean, those of us with depression will always struggle to some degree, but I hope that you will keep on treading water. I’m glad to see that you are doing therapy and meds, but if you feel like they aren’t helping enough, please, please go see your doctor. If your family and friends are not giving you the support you need, don’t stop looking until you find people who will. Sometimes those people are at a community center or support group or in an online community, but I promise you, they exist. You matter and you are not stuck in that snow globe. You reached out just now and you can do it again.

      Love and light,

  2. I really loved this post.

    I’ve struggled with depression in the past and had ALL of these thoughts.

  3. Thank you so much for this. I actually had to read it in chunks as each section rang so true.

    Sweatpants & Coffee has been one of my favorite FB pages for a long time now, but this—this was incredible. It takes a lot of strength to share so openly, especially about something so challenging, and from someone who is suffering from depression (I think that’s the first time I’ve said that out loud in a public place), it means a lot. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Also, I shared it with my husband, as kind of glimpse into my mind, he came up and gave me hug. After talking about it we came to this:

    It’s a challenge of fighting one’s self, as who better knows how to take advantage of and manipulate through our most base and constant fears then ourselves?

    We did find a bit of possible positive though, something we’ve been working on: Sometimes the cycle of depression can feels like a continual rebirth of ‘self’—and with rebirth can come new possibilities, and that is something to celebrate ^.^

    Many wishes of relief, strength, and joy,

    • *than ourselves
      It’s a challenge of fighting one’s self, as who better knows how to take advantage of and manipulate through our most base and constant fears than ourselves?

      Apparently I need more coffee, lol.

    • Ann, I love the idea of the cycle of depression as part of the cycle of rebirth. It’s true – I’m changed when I come out of it.

  4. Thank you, Nanea, for that. It really hit home. You just proved that no. 4 isn’t true at all. You helped me today.

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