The trap of “smiling depression”

We often think of depressed people hiding in the dark in their house, looking and feeling lethargic, and isolating themselves from others.

Not everyone shows depression in this way.
Some people will feel the lethargy, sadness, worthlessness, hopelessness, helplessness, yet put on a mask where they’re smiling and doing their best to hide how they really feel.
They’re skilled at masking their depression, powering through the day appearing to others as cheery and happy.
This is the danger of smiling depression.
These are the ones who commit suicide and people say “you’d have never known, they seemed so happy – they were the joker of the group.”
Think Robin Williams.
It affects a lot more people than you think.
People who are too embarrassed or ashamed to admit to others that they feel this way.
I’ve definitely been in that category myself in the past, trying hard to keep up my “job” of being the strong one.
I wouldn’t let myself openly fall apart because other people needed me.
I’d fall in a heap, but not in public.
And then, when there was stuff to do or work to be done, I’d scrape myself off the floor and put the mask back on.
Inside I was dying, a shell of my former self.
When I couldn’t hold it together anymore, a lot of my friends freaked out.
How are you supposed to support the one who supports everyone else?
I let a couple of close best mates in, and let them scrape me off the floor instead.
It was SO. F-ING. HARD.
To be that vulnerable.
To feel like a frickin baby that can’t look after itself.
To feel like a fraud – because I work in personal development so “shouldn’t” feel this way.
That was around 10 years ago now; these days I’m very open about my vulnerability and crappy head times when I’m going through it.
I have amazing friends and family in my life I can trust and lean on – which I always did, i just had to allow them in.
There are lots of reasons why people hide their depression:
– They don’t want to feel like a burden
– They think they are flawed or weak if they admit the truth
– They’re in denial
– They think they risk losing their job
– They don’t think anything can help them
Keeping it all bottled up has huge consequences.
The biggest danger of smiling depression is the risk of suicide.
People with typical depression can feel so lethargic they may not have the energy to act on their suicidal thoughts.
Those with smiling depression have more energy to follow through with it; and are less likely to share their thoughts and feelings with others, which compounds their depression and adds to the risk.
Does this hit home?
If you’re experiencing smiling depression yourself, know you’re not alone.
Try these steps to kick off your healing journey:
– Choose someone you trust and start sharing your thoughts and feelings. This may help gradually ease your pain and cope with some of your symptoms. Trust me, I know from experience you’ll get so much relief from this – if you don’t trust anyone, reach out to me.
– Connect with a Doctor and seek a diagnosis. Consider getting a brain spect imaging scan to show you that depression isn’t a weakness, it’s a biological condition of the brain and nothing to be ashamed of (check out Daniel Amens work on brain imaging and depression)
– There are 7 different types of depression that show up on scans and so treatment will depend on your type of depression but could range from psychotherapy, medication, meditation, nutrition , supplements, mindfulness, exercise, coaching etc.
Whatever you do, connection to others is important, so please, reach out to someone today and start your healing journey.
And remember, you are loved.
Catcha on the flip side,

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