Depression & Clothes

I went to an all girls catholic high school, which means one thing: uniforms. I loved uniforms. I may have been the only person in my class who actually liked wearing the same shirt and skirt every day.

On the weekends I was faced with my real clothes. I would go to parties and all the girls wore their weekend uniform: black, tight and short. We had beepers back then, so having a beeper was very in, too. So were organizers, which I never really understood and last but not least, a bottle of water. Why we felt the need to hull around a bottle of water everywhere I don’t know, but most of us did. Gucci and water went hand in hand.

I never really fit into the party style scene. I felt like it was fake to dress for the guys so I wore regular street clothes. It wasn’t until college that I started making my own style. 

Clothes started to have new meaning in my life. My clothes would directly manifest my moods. When I was manic, you better believe there were some fierce colors, maybe some glitter and fun accessories. Similarly, when I was depressed, my clothes turned gray and loose. But for the majority of my life, clothes weren’t important to me. It wasn’t until I realized my clothes not only affected my moods, but demonstrated my moods, that I started to pay attention.

If I was sad or felt depressed I would make myself get up and find something more on the manic side to wear. It didn’t clear up the depression but gave me a chance to try.

Today I do homeless outreach for the mentally ill. Every day I open my closet and see my real clothes. My skirts, dresses and funky fashion, and I almost want to cry when I have to put on my new uniform: plain, boring, blah, street clothes. No fashion sensibility whatsoever. You can’t approach a homeless person in Ralph Lauren. And you can’t run from a schizophrenic homeless person in a pencil skirt with heels.

And after months of being trapped in my clothes, I am feeling the depression of wearing lame clothes. I tell myself when the weekends come I will go back to my stylish outfits, but I don’t. I’m stuck in a clothes depression and it sucks.

When I worked with the mentally ill in a psych ward, I would donate clothes and saw how a cool jacket or nice top made a mentally ill person develop a slight smile or skip in their step. I witnessed firsthand the importance of clothes when treating depression. And when the manic patients came through, they stepped it up to a whole inpatient level. Florescent eye shadow mixed with a ton of colorful bangles jiggling on a wrist screamed mania.
In that experience, I learned the power of clothing.

Next time you feel sad, check your closet for your manic clothes and sport them with pride. And when you’re manic, chill out a bit and put on your depression clothes. If clothes illustrate a mood, switch them up. It just might create some balance in your life.

Translate »

Connect with us!

Subscribe to our My Support Newsletter and receive messages of hope and management tips through our blogs and webinars, research updates, also learn about upcoming events, and more!

You have Successfully Subscribed!