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Depressed? Try a Sad Selfie

Updated on August 4, 2015


This is a re-telling of merely ONE person's experience. It is not a researched "technique". For professional advice on depression, please scroll down to the last paragraph for ways to get help and for emergency resources.

7 Things You Can Do for Depression, Anxiety, Insecurity, and Low Seff-Esteem

Better than "Crying in Your Beer"

Here at hubpages, writers are always trying for quality hubs that are “content rich” and are accompanied by meaningful images, embedded video, and maybe a quiz or two.

This is not going to be one of those hubs. I’m just too fascinated with what happened to me to not get this up as soon as possible because, you see, this morning I was in the throes of depression, and now I'm not. I thought maybe someone else might find relief in this somewhat "quirky" idea.

It started early in the morning as I sat at my desk in my home office. I had that familiar heaviness behind the eyes near the brow and that feeling of a weighted-blanket of sadness "heavy on my shoulders". In the past, I’ve experienced a release of pressure when I just let myself cry, so I decided, since no one was around, to just have a good cry and get this feeling gone. Was that the simple cure I'm talking about? No, that wasn’t the great "watershed" moment so to speak. The crying merely precipitated (pardon the pun again) one thought that led to the next:

I really have to make an appointment with a counselor...Did the old one get tired of me?...I’ll have to tell my whole sad old story to someone new…Would this unknown new person be able to take the tears? Could I even take my own tears?.........And then I looked down on my desk!

There, sandwiched between my printer and keyboard was my new Apple 6 Iphone. The next part just "sort of happened".

I picked up my cell phone, found the camera icon and then the video button. I pressed the little image that would let me take a selfie movie, and I started.

I looked into the camera, my hair a mess, no make-up, and I recorded: “First of all I can’t stand the way I look, which I know shouldn’t be important…”. My voice became whinier while I started telling my phone “counselor” the rest of my whole wretched story and what I was feeling. I searched for the words of my usual litany of life’s injustices to me. And as I looked at myself sobbing and expressing what I thought was creating my sadness, I was having a hard time taking me seriously!

Still, I tried to think of more of the losses while talking and listening to my meta-self. I guess I had a need to make me believe me. However, I kept being so distracted by the miserable display in the little screen that I thought, "If this were Felicty Huffman on TV, I'd say, "Man, she's playing part this way over the top! I'm changing channels.")

Finally, I just had to stop my own personal counseling session. I was just too much for me to take. I stopped the video, replayed it to be sure it truly was as pitiful as I perceived it to be. It was! I then realized how ridiculous I would have looked to a counselor on the other end of this face – how ridiculous I must look to my husband when I go off into my rants against life. I then quickly deleted that sad selfie before anyone would ever see it! Suddenly I noticed I was sitting straighter in my chair. I voluntarily released the muscles in my forehead from their hold on my eyes, and before starting back to work, I ran into the bathroom to put on some make-up and comb my hair. The rest of my day continued - 98.2% depression-free,

Ted Talk: Dr. Stephen Ilardi

Six Components That Change Our Neuro-Chemistry

Physical Activity ("Excercise is Medicine")


Social Connection

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Anti-Rumnative Activity

Healthy Sleep

(from Dr. Ilardi's talk above)

Questions About the Selfie?

You might have a few questions about the results of my serendipitous selfie experience:

How long did the dreadful dread remain at bay?

I remember that the feeling of dread left me for hours - into the evening and into the next day. When I started feeling sad again, I tried to bring up the experience of the video, and when I did, my body straightened up and from that point, the sadness left. I had to repeat this about 3 times in the past few days.

Did you need to take another "sad selfie video" again?

As if this writing, it's been three days since I did the first sad selfie, and all I need to do is to think about how I appeared in that video, and I can do the things that are mentioned in some of the youtube videos accompanying this article.

Why do you think your sad selfie worked?

I suspect there are several reasons why seeing myself talking as if to a counselor all alone in my deepest despair helped get me out of despair.

1. What happened might be a modification of the Gesalt Method "empty chair" form of therapy where a person talks to an empty chair in order to experience a role reversal in which he or she gains the perspective of the other person. In this case, I was seeing myself as others saw me and what I saw as them was not pleasing to me and as I extrapolated, would not be pleasing to them.

2. When a person is depressed there is a tendency to "awful-ize" a situation. Once in a negative state, it's easy to perpetuate the state and go on and on with a continual list of negatives. When you hear all the negatives of a situation, a natural tendency, even if it involves yourself, is to argue against the list.

Could there be any harm in talking a sad selfie video?

To repeat: This is NOT a researched method or ANY kind. It's simply a personal story of what helped me. Can there be harm? My guess is, "Perhaps". I noticed that one of the women from the reality show, "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" relapsed into her addictive behavior after seeing herself on TV. Could seeing ourselves as we might appear to others, trigger more depression? My lay-person's point of view is that it could be possible. Just as all information on the web, what is contained here should be used with judgment and care.

Aren't you, as the author, making light of depression?

My family's background would never allow me to make light of this issue. My father, orphaned by his father in the flu epidemic of 1916 when he was 10 and by his mother of the same epidemic two years later, was probably situaltionally depressed with a genetic component. His sister committed suicide around the age of 40. At age 58, my father had his first of a series of Electro-Shock Therapy Treatments for severe depression. He was able to maintain some semblance of normal functioning until his later years. Eventually he had a second series of shock treatments and lived his final years in a locked psychiatric ward of a Veteran's Hospital. So my understanding of the seriousness of this illness and its possible lesser manifestation in my own life, would never allow me to take depression lightly. My little "discovery" here is meant to suggest a possible tool that worked for me one day, one hour out of hundreds of days and hours of minor depression. Sometimes, it takes just one day, to change our perspective, if only for a short length of time.

my father and his sister - sad endings
my father and his sister - sad endings | Source

Getting Free Of Self-Importance Is The Key To Happiness: Polly Young-Eisendrath at TEDxMiddlebury

Quirky Ideas Aside: Symptoms and Advice From the Mayo Clinic

Is it Time to See a Doctor?

"If you feel depressed, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as you can. Depression often gets worse if it isn't treated. Untreated depression can lead to other mental and physical health problems or troubles in other areas of your life. Feelings of depression can also lead to suicide.

If you're reluctant to seek treatment, talk to a friend or loved one, a health care professional, a faith leader, or someone else you trust.

If you have suicidal thoughts

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, get help right away. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
  • Contact a minister, a spiritual leader or someone in your faith community.
  • Call a suicide hotline number — in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
  • Make an appointment with your doctor, mental health provider or other health care provider.

When to get emergency help

If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

If you have a loved one who is in danger of committing suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with that person. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room."

For You, a Message from the Band Called 'Fun': "Carry On"

Do you think a "sad selfie video" would be

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    • Billie Kelpin profile imageAUTHOR

      Billie Kelpin 

      4 years ago from Newport Beach

      #SusanDeppner, So glad you saw the tongue-in-cheek humor in the first part of this article. I was so seriously depressed that seeing myself in that state visually made me laugh at myself! Sometimes it helps to view very serious subjects light-heartedly while still admitting their seriousness. That was my intent. Cheers!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I was imagining myself watching a "sad selfie" video and I have to say that just thinking about it made me laugh. Reminded me of times when my kids were fussing to the point of being ridiculous and I'd fuss right along with them, copying their expressions and words. That always ended with said kiddos hiding their faces so I wouldn't see them laugh. (Pretty sure I learned that technique from my mom.) I know that depression is something real and not to be mocked. I also know that it's pretty easy to talk ourselves into a more depressive state when all we do is "talk" in our mind, exaggerating circumstances that may not be quite as bad as the devil would like us to think they are, thus only making our situation worse. So, that being true, I believe behaving in the opposite manner (via watching our own "sad selfie") would have the reverse effect, making us feel much better. Doesn't that make perfect sense? Yes, I like your "sad selfie" theory! Mostly, though, I'm very glad it helped you and hope it works as well if you feel the need to perform the same exercise again. Hopefully, though, you won't, at least not any time soon.

    • Billie Kelpin profile imageAUTHOR

      Billie Kelpin 

      4 years ago from Newport Beach

      DzyMsLizzy, Thanks for that very helpful suggestion, and for positive comment. I do think you're exactly right. I never looked at that selfie again, it was just an , "Yep, that's right--exactly what happened/how I feel" related to that particular day. Wish you had a smartphone - I think you'd LOVE it.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      4 years ago from Oakley, CA

      That is a novel idea, for sure. I don't own one of those phones, so not a technique I could use.

      My usual "self-therapy" is to journal my sad, angry, 'whatever' thoughts, but it's mostly just to get it off my chest in the moment. I don't find that re-reading it helps; in fact, it's more likely that I'll say, "Yep, that's right--exactly what happened/how I feel." I would guess that means it's not a great technique to use...or maybe I should just destroy after writing, and not re-read later.

      Too bad they took away the voting buttons, for I would surely have voted this up +++

    • Billie Kelpin profile imageAUTHOR

      Billie Kelpin 

      4 years ago from Newport Beach

      Kim, Thank you so much. I was reading another person's profile on hubpages the other day, now I forgot who (drats). It was a male writer and I was struck by the similarities in our thinking process. I went to your poems and of course, ended up in tears after the first few lines of "The Day the Music Died in Me". I'd love to see your teaching activity. Our online business is more of a hobby, I guess, because we make almost literally no money now, but I'm all about the networking. If the email on hubpages doesn't work, go to our webpage (the company in my profile) and you should see an email there. Looking forward... (PS, you made my day better :)

    • ocfireflies profile image


      4 years ago from North Carolina


      Thank You for sharing your experience(s). After reading your bio, I was struck by the similarities of our lives. I will share and pin this hub for your message is POWERFUL! At some point, I would also like to communicate via email if that would be okay with you. I created an activity when I was still teaching that I have always thought had great potential as an educational tool.



    • Billie Kelpin profile imageAUTHOR

      Billie Kelpin 

      4 years ago from Newport Beach

      brakel2, What a GREAT sense of humor! I can't imagine your selfies turn out "goofy" 'cuz the cuteness inside must surely shine through.

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Billie I can picture the selfie experience, because I take selfies that turn out terrible. My iPhone is weird. I look goofy and sad with funny teeth. That is enough to scare me out of depression. The response from kissthesky validates your idea about the selfie, I think. It is a novel experience, and I love it. Blessings,,Audrey

    • Billie Kelpin profile imageAUTHOR

      Billie Kelpin 

      4 years ago from Newport Beach

      billybuc, that's why your article on "The Wall" drew me in. MY only experience with isolation, is the wall that depression creates around a person. After reading your article connecting our walls with fear, I realized that of all the conversations I had with my dad during his bouts of depression, I don't think I ever asked if there was something what he feared. We connect depression with sadness, disappointment, anger turned inward, but not exactly with fear. So that concept is interesting to ponder.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      How fascinating. The only experience I have had with depression was alcohol-induced and not clinical, so I really have no basis for an opinion....just that what happened to you is fascinating. Thanks for sharing a very private and personal experience.

    • Billie Kelpin profile imageAUTHOR

      Billie Kelpin 

      4 years ago from Newport Beach

      Peach Purple, I didn't realize that. I wonder if it has the same intent. The "selfie" I took was serving as a "counselor" to myself. I, of course, didn't share it. Life is difficult even when you have all the world before you. The knowledge that one feels sad in light of true sorrow in the world, often makes one even sadder. It's such an inexplicable cause-effect reaction. But everything is relative. One of my favorite quotes is "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong in the broken places." (Hemingway)

    • peachpurple profile image


      4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      A lot of teens put up sad selfies now

    • Billie Kelpin profile imageAUTHOR

      Billie Kelpin 

      5 years ago from Newport Beach

      Larry, Thanks for your comment. Again, it just worked for me on one day and stayed with me for a few weeks. I think I'm due to take another picture of myself - maybe a video this time of me being full of self-pity when I should be just plain grateful :) Cheers to you !

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Very interesting concept for dealing with depression.

    • Billie Kelpin profile imageAUTHOR

      Billie Kelpin 

      5 years ago from Newport Beach

      Cat, I appreciate your comment, especially since you seem to have had experience with this topic. There was something about seeing myself that day as the counselor might see me that got me out of my self-pity mode. Here's to joy to you today!

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 

      5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hello Billie,

      Depression is no joke, and I have struggled with it more than a few times in the past to the point of needing protracted medication. I have to say that I love the idea of a sad selfie! Sometimes we become so mired in self-pity that it helps to view ourselves from the perspective of someone else. Thank you for sharing this inspired idea!

      All the best,


    • Billie Kelpin profile imageAUTHOR

      Billie Kelpin 

      5 years ago from Newport Beach

      emge, Thank you so much for your positive comment :) Cheers, Billie

    • Billie Kelpin profile imageAUTHOR

      Billie Kelpin 

      5 years ago from Newport Beach

      techygran, Thank you so much for your very thorough reading of this article. Your attention to the details touched me and actually propelled me to take a look once again at the video of the Buddhist perspective. Of course any idea that I might have of which someone has commented "brilliant" over "kooky" is always welcome. Cheers to you. I'm looking forward to reading your hub articles :)

    • emge profile image

      MG Singh 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      very interesting

    • techygran profile image

      Cynthia Zirkwitz 

      5 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      Hey, this was a 'content-rich' hub-- maybe not for Google, but for those who 'participated' here (reading, thinking, maybe doing a 'sad selfie', and watching the videos). I very much enjoyed it, and liked your creative style of letting us in on that 'other' voice-- the inner-therapist, or whatever you think of it as-- helping you to sort out your 'sad selfie' experience.

      I have found, through the years, that having someone cut into my (sometimes) self-pity by asking "what can I do to help?" puts me immediately in hearing mode for the whiny beginning of a list of negatives and I generally have a proper turn-around.

      I appreciate your respectfulness for those who are depressed, and I also do not mean to imply that depression is always just a 'pity party' or anything like that. But the video with the Buddhist perspective of self-importance was an interesting inclusion that does not always happen when we look at depression. Couple that with the first presenter who pointed out the importance of real face-to-face community (including being around people who are 'worse off' than we think we are, I'm thinking he might have been saying) and there is a possibility of a real significant shift.

      I think your 'sad selfie' and the iphone therapy is a brilliant suggestion!

    • Billie Kelpin profile imageAUTHOR

      Billie Kelpin 

      5 years ago from Newport Beach

      Ms Dora, Thanks for checking in! I am always a little leary of writing about some "quirky" idea that worked for me, but if there is someone who feels the way I sometimes feel and can be relieved if only once and if only for a short time, why not take the risk of putting it out there? (I still think William Shatner's idea of transporting water from places that are trying to get rid of it to places that don't have enough, might be tweeked and have some merit). But then again, my father always called me a dreamer :)

    • Billie Kelpin profile imageAUTHOR

      Billie Kelpin 

      5 years ago from Newport Beach

      kissthesky, I absolutely love the studies that show brain activity. I think it really is the key to understanding behavior in the future. Thank you for your comment :)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Not everyone will get the results you got from this sad selfie, but I'm sure that many others will benefit from this anti-depressant tool the way you did. Thanks for sharing a way to laugh at yourself and heal. Great read!

    • kissthesky profile image

      Calvin Clevidence 

      5 years ago from Seville, Ohio

      This is interesting Billie. I watched a documentary not long ago where they showed images to people and read brain activity. Seeing a sad face usually brought feelings of empathy that forced the person to automatically care about the person in the picture.

    • Billie Kelpin profile imageAUTHOR

      Billie Kelpin 

      5 years ago from Newport Beach

      Asher Dan Gueco, Thank you for your comment. At least it worked for me and kept me going all week long. Let's hope it might work again if needed :)

    • Asher Dan Gueco profile image

      Asher Dan Gueco 

      5 years ago

      this really helps to lessen the feelings of depression


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