A mum's image depicting 'what depression looks like' has gone viral on social media.
The image, which Brittany Ernsperger posted on her Facebook page, seems unremarkable at first glance. It shows a pile of clean dishes.
But then she explains, and what Brittany Ernsperger has to say has clearly resonated with a lot of people:
"This is what depression looks like. No. Not the clean dishes. But that there were that many dishes in the first place; that I've gone 2 weeks without doing them.
"3 days ago I sat on the kitchen floor and stared at them while I cried. I knew they needed to be done. I wanted to do them so bad. But depression pulled me under. It sucked me in. Like a black hole. Rapidly, sinking quick-sand.
"I walked by them morning and night and all day long. And just looked at them. Telling myself that I could do them. Telling myself that I would. And feeling defeated everyday that I didn't. Making the depression only that much worse because not accomplishing something that needs to be done is failure.
"Worthless. Failure. Piece of shit. Incompetent. Stupid. Lazy. All things that roll through the mind of someone with depression. All. Day. Long.
"Throw anxiety on top of it, and you've got yourself a real treat.
"Being scared your husband will leave because he thinks you're lazy. Being scared to let people into your home because they'll think you're nasty. Feeling like you're failing your kids because for the 3rd night in a row you don't have any clean dishes to cook dinner on.. so pizza it is. Again.
"And the worst part of it all, it's not just with the dishes. The laundry, cleaning, dressing yourself, taking a shower, dressing your kids, brushing your and their teeth, normal everyday tasks. It all becomes a nightmare. A very daunting task. Somedays it doesn't get done at all."
Brittany contines, "Depression is something that "strong" people don't talk about because they don't want people to think they're "weak".
"You're not weak. You've been strong for so long and through so many things, that your body needs a break.
"I don't even care if the only thing you did today, was put deodorant on. I'm proud of you for it. Good job. I'm in your corner. I'm on your side.
"I'm not looking for sympathy, not in the slightest. But I am letting everyone know that I'm here for you. I get it. If you need someone to talk to, I'm always here to help."
The post has been 'liked' by 125,000 people and shared more than 158,000 times. A trail of more than 600 comments can be seen, with many people tagging in others to alert them to the post.
Comments have included: "These exact words run through my head on a daily basis. I hate that others feel this way too but it's nice to know I'm not alone."
"Thank you for posting this. I know exactly how this feels," said another.
Often referred to as "the black dog" depression affects many of us at different times in our life. According to depression.org.nz these are the statistics around depression in New Zealand:
- 1 in 7 will experience depression before they are 24 years old
- 1 in 8 men will experience depression
- 1 in 5 women will experience depression
- 1 in 4 New Zealanders will experience anxiety
- 1 in 5 people with depression or anxiety will experience both at the same time
Maternal health figures show that one in five new mothers suffers from postnatal depression and it can often go undiagnosed for a long period of time.
A number of Kiwi celebrities have helped raise awareness about mental health by opening up about their own experiences with depression, including Jay Jay Feeney, Mike King and John Kirwan, who fronts depression.org.