Depression affects millions of us, and while we are slowly opening up about mental health issues and beginning to banish the stigma that surrounds them, it is critically important to keep open the conversation to foster understanding and empathy for those who may be struggling.

Sarah Schuster is the mental health editor at The Mighty, and she decided to find out how depression manifests itself in ways other people can’t see.

“While most people imagine depression equals ‘really sad,’ unless you’ve experienced depression yourself, you might not know it goes so much deeper than that,” she writes. “Depression expresses itself in many different ways, some more obvious than others. While some people have a hard time getting out of bed, others might get to work just fine — it’s different for everyone.”

Asking community members on The Mighty Facebook page the question: “What’s something people don’t realise you’re doing because you live with depression?” The response was eye-opening. Below is a list of some of the things that people had to say. Scroll down to check it out.

Agreeing to social plans but canceling last minute. Using an excuse but really you just chickened out. It makes you think that your friends don’t actually want to see you, they just feel bad. Obligation.

Sometimes I’ll forget to eat all day. I can feel my stomach growling but don’t have the willpower to get up and make something to eat

In social situations, some people don’t realize I withdraw or don’t speak much because of depression. Instead, they think I’m being rude or purposefully antisocial.

I don’t like talking on the phone. I prefer to text. Less pressure there.
Also being anti-social. Not because I don’t like being around people, but because I’m pretty sure everyone can’t stand me.

Purposely working on the holidays so I can avoid spending time with family. it’s overwhelming to be around them and to talk about the future and life so I avoid it.

Hiding in my phone. Yes, I am addicted to it, but not like other people. I don’t socialize, I play games or browse online stores to distract myself from my negative thoughts. It’s my safe bubble.

Struggle to get out of bed, sometimes for hours. Then just the thought of taking a shower is exhausting. If I manage to do that, I am ready for a nap. People don’t understand, but anxiety amd depression is exhausting, much like an actual physical fight with a professional boxer.

Going to bed at 9 pm and sleeping throughout the night until 10 or 11 am. Then getting out of bed is the hard part. Showering is also a struggle. Trying to keep the house tidy. Watching hours upon hours of Netflix but not even interested in what I’m watching because nothing really interests me anymore.

I just sit all day, getting up only to use the bathroom. My chair is also my bed. I have a bed, but i just stay in my chair. I don’t sleep well, and I eat very little. The TV is on, but I may or may not be watching. I just sit.

I can deal with depression, I can’t deal with people who say “we all get sad at times, get over it” “I’m depressed too, I get on with my life” depression isn’t the same for everyone. I’m glad some people can cope easier but I can’t.

Isolating myself, not living up to my potential at work due to lack of interest in anything, making self-deprecating jokes. I’ve said many times before, “I laugh, so that I don’t cry.”
Unfortunately, it’s all too true

People think I’m lazy and a freerider because I haven’t had a job since leaving uni. They don’t realise that I want to work more than anything, but have an endless stream of negativity constantly running through my head that terrifies me out of even printing out an application form.

The excessive drinking.
Most people assume I’m trying to be the “life of the party” or just like drinking in general. I often get praised for it.
But my issues are much deeper than that.

Depression to me was like having an evil person as my puppet master telling me that I will feel no joy, have no desire, have no energy, no appetite, no light. Like something steals your soul. Until you have experienced it, you will not understand it. I wouldn’t wish this feeling on my worst enemy.

Say that I’m tired or don’t feel good all of the time. They don’t realize how much depression can affect you physically as well as emotionally. I have a hard time finding energy when I’m in a depressive cycle. That means I don’t stay on top of stuff & let things slide (like house work) because I use all of my energy for what absolutely has to be done. Then I have none left for anything else. When I’m depressed, we eat out more, my house chores fall behind, & I binge watch TV or read to escape. But the energy, that’s just gone.

Being angry, mean or rude to people I love without realizing it in the moment. I realize my actions and words later and feel awful that I had taken out my anger on people who don’t deserve it

I over compensate in my work environment…and I work front line at a Fitness Centre, so I feel the need to portray an ‘extra happy, bubbly personality’. As soon as I walk out the doors at the end of the day, I literally feel myself ‘fall’. It’s exhausting! Then my night is a constant battle in my head fighting my desire to ‘shrink’ and anxieties. Most people that I interact with would NEVER know I live a daily battle of major depressive disorder, PTSD and anxiety. I am a professional at hiding it.

I wake up feeling like I’m a failure. I have to coach myself every morning into telling myself that I’m good at my job, my kids love me, my husband needs me…and if I don’t go to work everything gets shut off… it’s like I can’t move…

For me, specifically the things I wish people would realise are due to my depression are my apparent “laziness”, virtually not keeping in touch with anyone, bad personal hygiene, and extremely bad reactions to seemingly trivial things.

Neglecting to do basic things like laundry, not wanting to cook a meal or eat. They think I’m being lazy.

I don’t talk much in large groups of people, especially when I first meet them. I withdraw because of my anxiety and depression. People think i am ‘stuck up’. I’m actually scared out of my mind worrying that they don’t like me, or that they think I’m crazy or stupid, by just looking at me…

People don’t realize that I say sorry before I even think about expressing any opinions because that’s how worthless I feel. I’m apologizing for feeling anything about anything because that’s how little I feel I matter. They don’t just know I feel like apologizing for even breathing in their general direction. I even say I’m sorry before asking to use the bathroom no matter how long I’ve held it. I feel like a burden for biological needs I have no control over.

Some very universal themes in all the examples. I remember my days, twenty years ago, before medication and therapy well. Realizing that my feelings were not unique was part of the key; overcoming isolation was another. It cannot be fixed alone.

That I’m fighting through a wall of separation when I talk to them. That sometimes I blank or delay in answering because I’m still trying to process what they’re saying.

That when I reach out to them it’s after an agonizing period of trying not to. I don’t want to burden people with my shit, but sometimes I just need to hear someone’s voice.

That my everyday is marked with extreme fatigue and exhaustion. That everything for me takes much much longer.

That I am completely envious of people who are full of life and genki af. That I wish my life was nothing but optimism and bliss, that I felt a zest for life and was overflowing with energy. That that is who I really am behind all the junk they have to see and put up with. That I wish I could just ignore it all and have fun.

Fighting day to day with not wanting to give up and trying to show myself my own self worth.

When I reach out when I’m depressed its cause I am wanting to have someone to tell me I’m not alone. Not cause I want attention.

I used to live with depression. People didn’t seem to notice it because I was always smiling while talking to them and making jokes which made my personality look bright and joyful, while I was actually dark inside, full of sadness and lost hope.

Hiding out in my room for hours at a time watching Netflix or Hulu to distract my mind or taking frequent trips to the bathroom or into another room at social gatherings because social situations sometimes get to me.

My house is a huge mess.

I volunteer for everything from going to pto meetings to baby sitting to cleaning someone else’s house for them. I surround myself with situations and obligations that force me to get out of bed & get out of the house because if I’m not needed, I won’t be wanted..

I have often been accused of having “no sense of humor”. So wrong. Before depression took over my life I smiled, and laughed, as much as the next person. Now, having lived with depression for over 15 years, the humor I find in a joke, or situation, is rarely visible on my face or heard in my laugh. I feel humor, but it’s just too much effort to express it. I don’t have the energy.

The struggle to get out of bed and get off the couch is hell. The physical pain that exists. The house always a mess because no one else will or can do anything and I get blamed which all just makes the depression worse. The thinking about what I need to do makes me anxiety paralyzing.
Not having a job and physically not being able to even look for one after all the rejection.
People think I’m lazy.
I know a clean house helps me feel better, helps me socialize, causes peace and calmness, I want to and I try, but I just can’t. I know a job will give me purpose and reduce stress by adding some financial stability to my family. I really want one and perhaps that is why it is so heartbreaking every time those phone calls don’t come.

Overthinking everything and over planning. The need to make everything perfect and everyone happy even if it’s taking all my energy. As if validation from someone else will make it all better. Sometimes I start out on high power then just crash and don’t even enjoy what ive spents weeks/months planning. And none will see me for months after, as I retreat into my safe bubble

Sometimes I’ll go days without speaking to anybody. People tend to believe I’m ignoring them on purpose when really I am just lost within myself. I don’t mean to seem like I’m pushing people away. Some days it’s hard when my thoughts consume me and when I can’t find the motivation to simple things that others do on a daily basis.

Keeping the house dark is a comfort thing for me. People always point it out, like “No wonder you’re so depressed. You need to let some light in.” Darkness in my living space makes me feel comfortable, almost like I’m not alone, on my bad days. Good days, I’m all about the sunshine!

Cancel plans because of anxiety. Stay home and hardly ever go out. Struggling to get out of bed everyday. It’s exhausting. Getting ready for work is a struggle. There is so much. Been dealing with this for 35 years

I’m currently feeling some pretty deep depression because of what I’m going through. Between the stress and depression all I can do is sleep because I’m so worn out. In some pretty dark places right now and pushing everyone away. I hope it will end when I face the monster that is trying to kill me at the end of the month. I’ve lost everything in the last 2 years because of this person and their agency. I can relate to just about everyone of these and have lost friends over it. I had one friend tell me that my friends don’t like hanging out with me because I’m negative. Well a chance to loose your life is pretty negative. Just saying.

Sleeping, anxiety, not eating, feeling worthless, directionless, not wanting to impose my worthless directionless self on other people, being completely exhausted by having to keep the outer mask in place (which is why I’m antisocial– simply being upbeat enough to order coffee at Starbucks will sometimes rinse me for the afternoon).

I’ve dealt with depression most my life. Most my symptoms are manageable as long as I’m being mindful of my attitude, thoughts, and behavior. I don’t ignore people and I let them know when I need alone time or if I’m not feeling well. When life gets boring or mundane I remind myself that this is not my last stop and I continue dreaming. These are some of the ways that I manage depression.

Answering slowly. It makes my brain run slower and I can’t think of the answers to the questions as quickly. Especially when someone is asking what I want to do – I don’t really want anything. I isolate myself so I don’t have to be forced into a situation where I have to respond because it’s exhausting.

I smile all the time even though I don’t really want to but I do it because I don’t feel like I’m allowed to be sad when I’m with other people. I also do whatever it takes to make someone else happy, because since I don’t feel happy most of the time, it just makes me feel a little better seeing someone else happy. I also isolate myself even though sometimes I really just want someone around.

I push away/cut off everyone that I care about because I can’t bear to be hurt by them! Everyone just thinks I’m mean and anti-social.

Going for late night walks by myself. My depression keeps me awake at night and my thoughts can get so overwhelming I feel physically crowded inside. Late night walks help me quiet the screaming in my head.

I always say I’m going to do something with the guys and when it comes time to do it. I back away. Also sleeping for hours not because I’m lazy but because dealing with all the thoughts in my head from anxiety along with depression is exhausting. Feels like kind of when your in winter and the cold air is blowing and you find it hard to breath. It’s like that daily for me.

I think its hard for people to understand me when i may sound negative because i live with depression. They might question my motivation n even determination to do something but they dont realize its a battle to wake up everyday fighting my own thoughts n suffering from low energy.

People think I’m really flaky. I say I’m busy and I can’t do the thing I said I’d do but I’m busy hiding. That’s depression. The great need to be busy until you’re so totally physically exhausted so you don’t have to be afraid of your own thoughts: that’s anxiety.

I have tendencies towards a lot of what’s been described here: I wake up sometimes and think: ‘Ugh! How am I going to get up today?’ I have times I want to avoid people, where I become very introverted, where I want to drink every night, where I don’t feel like making any efforts to try to address my difficult financial situation (I can’t find a good job just yet).

I can’t speak for everyone, but what works for me, and I think will work for some, but certainly not all others, is that I work against these things one at a time, with simple but effective rules: 1. I will not let myself sleep more than 8.5 hours (assuming I’m not recovering from some serious sleep deprivation) 2. I will not let myself buy alcohol at a store or go to a bar until a weekend night. 3. I will require myself to do at least a few job applications, or application follow ups or go to some networking thing at least a few times a week. 4. I will exercise at least for a half hour 5-6 days a week. 5. I will write one more chapter of my novel manuscript today. 6. I will tidy up my room for 10-20 minutes as I play my favorite music. 7. I will enjoy a little indulgent food like dessert but I won’t go crazy on dessert.

Ask yourself this: can I put my more intelligent self in charge, one simple step at a time?

I get obsessive over things. Things like I’m worthless or I’m a bad person or I’m secretly just like the people I hate most. Sometimes I can’t tell if what I am thinking is true or not. I get anxiety at social events. I feel like people hate me or just don’t care about me. I cling to certain people and want them to love me. My brain sometimes goes into overdrive and I can’t turn it off and it causes a downward spiral that is hard to pull out of.

I don’t tell people because I don’t want to be labeled. I don’t want them to see me as broken and depressed or that I’m just being silly. But at the same time people get upset at me or mad about things but they don’t understand what I have to deal with.

I listen to music a lot. I read tons and tons of fantasy books. I like watching movies. All of these take me away from reality for a while and puts me into amazing worlds where I know things are going to end happily. I love being in plays and musicals because I get to be someone else entirely and I know how things are going to end and it makes me happier.

I find that after so many years I just can’t believe in people at all anymore. My vision of myself and the world is so negatively distorted that no matter how much I want to believe when people are nice to me, I can’t.

People who say I’m not ugly are lying and laughing behind my back. People who act like they like me are just going with the flow and don’t really care.
Even if they aren’t being mean, they’re just being polite, and it’s not like they care about me personally. Being a part of a group actually means that you’re just one more and don’t individually matter.

People are not honest, people are always just “polite” – kindness is a lie to look good to others and to feel good about themselves.

I get very apathetic. And I’ll refuse (read: I can’t) to make any decisions. Even tiny ones like what to eat. I physically won’t be able to make a decision. So if there isn’t someone around to tell me to eat something and what to eat, I won’t eat. If there isn’t someone to tell me to go to sleep, I won’t. It gets to the point where if someone asks me to make a decision or tries to force me to make a decision I’ll just curl up into a ball and cry.

I thought I was really bad at hiding my anxiety until one day a friend came to tell me that she wished she lived her life like how I did mine , cause I am always happy and take everything with a pinch of salt. Now I know that I’m an ace at covering up .

When I have no energy for socializing or even housework because just getting through the workday takes all my energy.

I relate to so many of these. It’s helpful to know I’m not the only one. But reading all these makes me think of my own issues and makes want a drink in the the middle of the day.

It’s not just social anxiety and depression keeping me from a job. I’m afraid if I have a steady income I really will be an alcoholic. Right now I only buy some when my dad sends me money every now and then. Or the rare occasion when my mom (who I live with and rely on for everything) wants some.

I only have one friend and she lives in a different state. She also suffers from depression, which might be worse than mine cos she rarely responds to my emails and we haven’t talked on the phone in something like as year. She has a job and is busier than me and I know she’s struggling. But my anxiety makes me think she just doesn’t want to talk to me. Even though she sent me a Christmas present which is the only verification I’ve had in the last six months that she’s alive. And I think or my anxiety does, that she only did that because I sent her a card and reminded her of my existence.

There’s just so much pain all around. And I don’t know how to fix it.

I avoid social interaction because I feel people tolerate me only to be polite to my husband or my son. When friends invite us over I stay at home for I don’t believe they really want me around.

I can’t sleep at night because thoughts of failure run through my head

I feel like a stranger in my own life. Having had surgery, off work, no savings, short term disability behind, water frozen, kitchen full of dirty dishes, but I am alive and taking meds.

I CAN RELATE TO EVERY COMMENT I HAVE READ WHICH IS SO SAD. SO MANY OF US HURTING AND LIVING WITH THE FEELING WE ARE ALONE. I EVEN FEEL GUILTY TALKING TO MY COUNSLER THINKING SHE IS GETTING SO TIRED OF ME TALKING ABOUT THIS STUFF. I BEAT CANCER A FEW YEARS AGO AND YOU WOULD THINK THAT WOULD HAVE GIVIN ME A NEW LEASE ON LIFE BUT IT ONLY MADE ME MORE DEPRESSED THOSE WHO HAVE HAD TO DEAL WITH DEPRESSION FOR A LONG TIME WILL UNDERSTAND WHY.

Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/people-share-what-is-like-to-live-with-depression/