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.



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! 

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  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.