Tackling depression one photo at a time

A mother from Hull in England has shared two strikingly different photos of herself when she was having suicidal thoughts to show that mental health does not have a specific look.

Amelia Smith, 24, said people, including medical practitioners, sometimes failed to realise she was suffering with depression because of the way she looked or behaved.

She says she set up social media page selfloveclubb 10 months ago to raise awareness using her own experiences.


'You don't look suicidal'

In an Instagram post shared on Monday, Amelia explained how she was only 14 years old when she first built up the courage to go to the doctor to seek help for her depression, but the response was not what she expected.

"'You don't look suicidal.' I remember these words coming from the doctor's mouth right after I'd just told him that I was having thoughts of suicide," she posted.

Amelia added she felt "invalidation," "embarrassed," and "confused".

"Those words nearly cost me my life, that judgment, those stupid stupid words," she explained.

"This is the danger of thinking mental health has a face, a look. This is how stigma, ignorance and judgement towards mental health/suicide affects those who are poorly.

"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."


'Tough times'

The images have been liked more that 20,000 times but are not the first she has shared on social media.

Many of her 163,000 followers shared their own experiences of trying to get help for depression.

One Instagram user posted in reply to the 4 September images: "My boss told me that I didn't look depressed. I have never felt so silly in my life. I read this and cried, thank you for sharing."

Another user said: "I understand and feel you. Doctors told me I was just in a phase".

A separate response came from a trainee doctor.

"Unfortunately this is something I hear all too often," they posted. "I think there are a lot of reasons for this, but regardless, it's a real problem. Every time I see stories like your encounter with your doctor, I am reminded of the kind of doctor I will not be."

Amelia says she is shocked and humbled at the response her post has received.

"If you're reading this now and you're suffering with your mental health then know your are not alone, know that you are worthy of help, love and happiness," she told the BBC.

"Reach out, tell a friend or a doctor. Tough times don't last but tough people do."