This week, I scrolled past an Instagram post that really touched me.
The post shows before and after kitchen photos. In the first photo, the kitchen is covered in dirty dishes. In the second, the dishes have been cleaned and put away. The caption reads,
It made me want to cry. I think most people who have depression can relate to the insurmountable difficulty of completing normal, everyday tasks, dish-washing included. But the accumulated mess and disarray of a depressive episode doesn’t always get much attention.
I shared the post in my stories and was moved to tears once again when a reader messaged me to affirm its truth. She said that the post was totally relatable. She went on to share,
For me, clutter and languishing household chores are one of the most shameful parts of depression.
A few months back, I’d been busy with a lot of cooking and photography. In the middle of that, a short but intense depressive spell hit me, and I didn’t get around to putting away my camera setup or washing a bunch of my dishes.
Around that same time, a friend and I were supposed to meet up for lunch. Thanks to a miscommunication, she came over to my apartment to pick me up, rather than meeting me where we said we’d go to eat.
I was on my way out of the episode at that point, which is why I was well enough to keep our plans. But my apartment was still a mess.
When my friend showed up, I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t bring myself to let her in; I asked her to wait outside. And I never really found the language to tell her the reason for my flustered, panicky reaction to her unexpected visit.
For many of us, perhaps especially those of us with histories of perfectionism and workaholism, the incapacitation of depression can feel worse than the despair. The fact that my home space was once so consistently—even aggressively—neat and tidy makes my shame about messiness and dirtiness even worse.
I wrote back to the reader who commented about her sister’s pitching in with household chores. I admitted that I can’t imagine ever asking for that kind of help, not even from someone whom I love and trust.
She said she understood, of course. The shame is terrible, she said. So is the exhaustion.
This is a tough topic to write about, but I wanted to mention the exchange today because it was so beautiful in its vulnerability. There’s nothing I’m not willing to share when it comes to my eating disorder history, but a lot of my struggle with depression remains cloaked in shame.
The post that I shared and the DMs I got in response reminded me that there’s healing to experience in putting the struggle into words, in having another person witness and validate all of it.
Another reader messaged me about the same IG story. She said,
I let her know that it wasn’t my sink but that it could easily be, when I’m depressed. I told her I understood completely and thanked her for sharing.
These moments remind me of why I started blogging in the first place. To quote the great bell hooks, who passed away this past week,
Happy Sunday, everyone. Here are some recipes and reads.
A beautiful citrus, avocado, and date salad—so perfect for winter.
Love the looks of these Sicilian-inspired Brussels sprouts with pine nuts, raisins, and red chili flakes.
Can’t wait to make this broccoli rabe grilled cheese.
Wholesome, cozy barley risotto with squash and chermoula.
What pretty sugar cookies. And they’re gluten-free, with a vegan option.
1. David Ramsey’s tribute to Fontella Bass and her famous song, “Rescue Me,” gives the reader a wonderful glimpse into Bass’ life and legacy. But it’s also a meditation on the power of celebrated songs and the experience of hearing them, whether for the first time or the five hundredth, together:
2. Elizabeth Kolbert, who has written extensively on climate change, reports on the scientists who are tinkering with photosynthesis in the hopes of preventing a global food crisis.
3. A powerful New York Times op-ed from Ezra Klein on our treatment of farm animals, which he calls the “defining moral failing of our age.” Klein spotlights organizations that are working to help.
4. I loved Ted Scheinman’s essay on reading Petronius’ Satyricon and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby during the pandemic. It’s a sweet, hopeful reflection on the consolations of great literature during tragic and tumultuous times. Scheinman’s closing graf feels so timely:
5. I’ve read a number of tributes to bell hooks this week that stayed with me. This one, by Barbara Ransby, was one of my favorites. She writes,
There’s the power of vulnerability and transparency, again.
Again and always.
Welcome back from the weekend, friends. I’m posting a day late in honor of the long weekend, which I enjoyed so very much; my boyfriend and I spent an evening at Mari Manor, and I can’t wait to tell you all about in a separate post. Now I’m home, catching up on work and gazing at the following wonderful recipes (and thought-provoking links). Sorry to share my own recipe, but…you guys gotta try these pumpkin pancakes, from my latest New Veganism column for Food52. Love the…
This was one of those weeks in which nothing, big or small, went according to plan. From travel delays and disastrous commutes to missed deadlines and forgotten emails, it all felt like a mess. Funnily enough, I was OK with it. It’s funny only because I don’t typically handle curveballs well. Anything that reinforces my lack of control tends to addle me at best, freak me out at worst. This week, though, the rarest of things happened, which is that I greeted all…
Happy Sunday, everyone. This weekend has been marked by celebratory occasions, including my good friend Ethan’s birthday yesterday and Steven’s and my 16-month anniversary today (yes, we still count the months). These things, coupled with work for a few new clients, have helped the weekend to fly by so far. No weekend is too busy, though, for a little weekend reading! To begin with, I’m totally smitten by the idea of these savory chickpea dumplings in a fragrant, curry tomato sauce, courtesy of…
On Friday I wrapped up my very short but incredibly meaningful two-week rotation at the John Theurer Cancer Center in Hackensack, New Jersey. The commute wouldn’t have made it sustainable for me to stay any longer, but I wish I could have. I valued pretty much every moment of the experience. One of the things I was told about the dietetic internship before starting was that I’d probably be surprised by what I loved and what I didn’t. Having had some counseling experience…