Fitness + Well-being

These photos of a woman's hair reveal what it's really like to live with depression

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Getty Images  (Getty Images)

Though around 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression, the mental illness is still largely misunderstood. Often, people associate depression with sadness, a relatively common symptom of the condition. In reality, however, depression is so much more than simple unhappiness: It’s debilitating and pervasive, and can present in countless different ways. For one Wisconsin woman, it meant staying in bed for nearly six months, unable to do much of anything.

Kate Langman, a hairstylist and employee at Ulta Beauty’s salon in Oshkosh, WI, encountered the woman during a shift in February. She was looking to buy products for her hair, which was matted and tangled due to neglect: She suffered from severe depression, and hadn’t washed or brushed it in almost six months. Langman tells the Huffington Post she offered to help, explaining:

“I have a very close family member that went through similar mental health struggles. If I would have let her walk away with all of those products that she spent hundreds of dollars on, she would have gotten nowhere—which she would have possibly viewed as another failure for her.”

Langman scheduled an appointment for the woman, but she never showed. The same happened with a second appointment. Finally, on March 9, the woman walked in to the salon and requested Langman’s help. The hairstylist dropped everything to come to her aid. She recalls:

“When she walked in that [day], I had a reeling of relief..[S]he still had the drive to feel like herself again….I didn’t care how late I stayed, I wanted to make sure she got taken care of.”

It took more than eight hours to brush, cut, treat and color the woman’s damaged mane, but the end result was absolutely stunning: The client looked like a new woman. Langman posted a picture of the incredible transformation to Facebook, writing:

“By the end of the service, I could see the sparkle in her eyes…she felt herself again.”

To Langman’s surprise, the post went viral; as of press time, it has been shared more than 16,000 times. The hairstylist says she’s grateful she was able to help a woman in need, writing,

“If this [post] ever makes its way back to her, I want her to know how great, wonderful, kind, loving and how strong of a person she is…she deserves nothing but happiness [and] I’m so thankful and grateful I got to help with her first step.”

This woman is lucky to have crossed paths with someone who wanted to help her. Sadly, not all those who suffer from depression are as fortunate. If you or someone you know suffers from depression or another mental illness, you are not alone. Visit the National Institute of Mental Health for help and more information, or, for immediate assistance, call the National Crisis Hotline at (800) 273-8255.