Student Uses Instagram To Show Depression Doesn't Have A 'Look'
By Victoria Kim, The Fix
October 5, 2017

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A student from the UK is spreading self-love and validating people’s deepest insecurities—including her own—through her Instagram account selfloveclubb.

Milly Smith, 24, created a judgment-free zone for herself and others. Her Instagram is a mosaic of photos that showcases her most vulnerable sides—her depression, suicidal thoughts, chronic pain, and insecurities as a young mother. Through her Instagram posts, Smith challenges our perceptions of people who are depressed and have suicidal thoughts—using herself as an example.

Smith was recently featured in SELF for her social media advocacy.

“We live in a society that uses the word ‘depressed’ in place of ‘sad’ or ‘upset’ so we paint this image of mental illness being someone who is crying, emotional, unwashed and in bed, and it just isn’t always the case,” she told the women’s health & wellness magazine. “I wanted to show that it can happen to anyone at anytime.”

In some of her more recent posts, Smith addressed a conversation she had with a doctor, in which they told her, “You don’t look suicidal” after she revealed that she was having thoughts of suicide.
This seemingly innocent observation made Smith second-guess herself, and wonder if she didn’t properly fit a mold of what she was “supposed” to look like as a depressed person. “I remember in that moment my 14-year-old self felt invalidation, dumb and embarrassed. I left feeling confused, what was I supposed to look like?”

This caption is accompanied by two photos of Smith, one in which she appears visibly depressed and the other in which she is smiling and gussied up, ready to face the world. She labels both photos in the side-by-side comparison with one word: Suicidal. “In both these photos I’m suicidal, perhaps not in the same way but on both of these days I had suicidal thoughts racing around,” she said in the caption. “This is thedanger of thinking mental health has a ‘face,’ a ‘look.’

She eloquently describes her experience with suicidal thoughts in another post: “I think about dying daily BUT I don’t want to die. I have really awful thoughts about suicide daily yet I have a hunger for life more than most,” she writes. “Suicidal tendencies are my mind’s twisted little way of telling me the world is better off without me and it crops up all the time, but my body fights against it, I don’t want to die.”

“For me, suicidal tendencies come from trauma, BPD, and self-esteem issues and are deep-rooted and complicated,” she added.

She tells SELF that her crusade for self-love has made her aware of just how many people are “suffering in silence.”

“I’ve felt so much joy and pride from seeing the response but also saddened but the sheer amount of people who can relate…”, she said.