For years, Diana* kept her depression a secret. She didn't tell her family, and no one knew how it was impacting her schooling, her work or even her religious faith. Well, almost no one.
"Tumblr was the only medium through which I talked about my depression at all," she said.
In an email to Mic, Diana explained, "It was far, far easier talking to the Tumblr community. For one, we're both behind screens. My emotions, thoughts and life in general are shielded. What they know about me is through the information I've given them; I'm only involved with them as much as I or they allow me to be."
Diana never shared her online self with her "real life" friends, mostly because the people she found on Tumblr would understand that what she was going through wasn't just "sadness."
"I had found these people — or they had found me — and we were either going through similar things or could relate to each other in a way that I thought perhaps my IRL friends might have trouble understanding."
She's not the only one. Across Tumblr, those dealing with depression are finding each other for advice, support and connection. More 20-somethings than ever struggle with mental health, a phenomenon highlighted by clinical psychologists like Meg Jay, but depression often isn't diagnosed until our late 20s or even 30s.
While the communal nature of Tumblr can encourage dramatic emotional outpourings often mislabeled as "depression" (as Anne-Sophie Bine wrote in the Atlantic, "anyone can take a picture, turn it black and white, pair it with a quote about misunderstood turmoil and automatically be gratified with compassion and pity"), there are individuals with clinical depression who've found Tumblr to be immensely valuable.
It took Diana years to finally seek help (she has since been diagnosed with major depressive disorder and generalized social anxiety). When she eventually did, it was because the literature and resources from Tumblr helped her come to terms with mental illness and work past the stigma.
"Too many people wave it off as something that can be fixed by 'snapping out of it' or by 'letting it pass,'" Diana said. "Whether it's medication or therapy or a blog on Tumblr, the importance of the way people cope shouldn't be diminished."
Here are just nine of the many Tumblr posts that capture a struggle so many face IRL.
Depression can feel like it's enveloping you and taking over your life.
Being alone can feel safer than connecting with people.
And it's challenging to talk about it when you're worried about being judged.
A lot of well-intentioned advice can actually hurt someone living with depression.
Just because you don't look depressed, doesn't mean you aren't struggling.
Depression doesn't have one face or mood.
It can feel like you've lost your old self.
It can take reminders of the little victories to make it through each day.
But depression doesn't mean you're weak. In fact, you're pretty damn tough.
* Name has been changed to allow subject to speak freely on private matters.