Depression: Behind The Masked Smile
Depression is one of those things that people pigeon hole, stereotype and think they know all about.
Most would say they are great at spotting when someone's sadness is turning into that little bit more.
When asked who they would say had depression, these were the most common responses...
The sad, crying, miserable one in the corner of a busy room (who may have lost a loved one) who obviously doesn't want to be there but has to be.
The one that is harsh, rude and cold hearted because they are clinging on to the pain inside, who doesn't leave the house, cuts off all communication to people and speaks very little.
Are you nodding? would you say these were stereotypical signs of a person with depression?
Well you're not wrong, all those stereotypical symptoms are in fact relevant and very real and can definitely be put down to depression in most cases (remember, some people who are rude, are just rude and only karma can help them). The reason these are your common responses is because these things can also be easily spotted by your average caring eye...
But depression is so much more sneaky and conniving than that...
Depression comes in so many silent, secret and 'unknown to others' ways and these can often be the most severe cases of this horrible disease because they don't get the help they need and often when people work it out, it's too late.
You see, depression comes in all shapes and sizes, in lots of different forms and with lots of triggers and coping mechanisms.
It is just like us humans really, every one is different in their own way.
Depression is a huge problem in the lives of so many and, scarily, to the majority it will go unnoticed and fester until it becomes more than just a sad, empty feeling inside.
Depression went unnoticed in me for years.
It still does.
I'm the girl with so much to say, always laughing, joking and playing the fool.
I'm the girl with a smile on her face, who loves to meet new people and make sure everyone is put at ease.
I'm the girl who will help others before she would help herself, give up something so someone else could benefit from it.
I'm the girl who to so many has so much and who has the ability to stick two fingers up at all that is thrown at her and deal with it in her stride.
I'm the girl with depression
I'm also the girl who when the door closes and when alone, loses the ability to smile at all.
In fact, I often lose the ability to even move, speak or look at anything other than the floor.
Until someone walks in the door, that is.
Then I smile, laugh, joke and go about like everything is normal, like everything is as they'd expect.
My ability to hide behind a mask of a smile is incredible and I often shock myself, I can go from crying to bright eyes and laughter within one deep breath.
That has come with years of practice and fear of people's attitude towards depression and the ability to parent a child with it.
It has also come from years of practice worrying about losing the people around me by depressing them with my depression, lets face it, it can get boring for those on the outside if you are constantly crying, that is never fun for anyone even the best of friends. Sad but sometimes all so very true.
You see, for years I've pasted this mask of a smile on my face when around others. I've shrugged it off and lied when asked if all is okay, when really, I'm struggling inside.
Sometimes my smile is quite genuine though on these occasions, sometimes I just can't help it, you know, like when you watch a funny cat video on youtube or your child's first steps. Genuine happiness shines through.
But sometimes even those times are tainted by a genuine rock bottom empty feeling in your heart, head and stomach and not even Ninja Cat can crack a smile on your face. I can't actually pin point where that emptiness feeling actually exists but it's there and it's real and it often physically hurts as well as mentally.
Anyone can get depression.
Even the people who have the most in life, actually ESPECIALLY those who have everything in life, like celebrities and professionals.
Money does not get you out of this one.
In fact it can taint it to the point of disaster.
In the few days before the death of Peaches Geldof she was seen to be 'happy and loving life' by those who surrounded her. She, like me, had perfected the painted smile mask and knew how to use it. In her case she had much greater demons than myself and she used her mask to defeat the worlds media and trick them into thinking she was back on track. She had that little extra hurdle in which I think I'd hate, having to front the people who could make or break you all day everyday and knowing they can make your life and demons so much worse in one headline. She was happy and loving being a parent, or so she would have had us believe. She was in fact crying inside, fighting for the life that everyone thought she had but not quite getting there. I see it in so many. I see it in myself.
This makes her no less of a good mum to those children whilst she was alive. You could see the love for them was stronger than ever and it makes her love for those children no less than any other parent with or without depression. It doesn't mean she didn't appreciate her life and what she had any less than what we would if we had all her riches and fame. It doesn't mean she was selfish and/or self absorbed.
It means she was ill and screaming inside for the help and understanding of what had taken over her mind.
There aren't very many differences between myself, Peaches and many others (apart from the obvious fame, fortune and obviously the heroin addiction) I and many other people have been battling our own fight inside for years and we battle everyday to have, and live, the life so many think we already have...
It's hard and I often find myself staring in a mirror wandering what I bring to this world and whether I'd be missed. Yep, it gets that bad quite regularly and I know I'm not on my own, actually I'm in good company as some of the worlds most amazing people have depression and often have suicidal thoughts on a daily basis but have learnt to deal with them in their own way. They have learnt the hard way. Sadly some don't make it through and they find that their way out of this pain is by leaving the mask behind them and letting themselves succumb to their demons.
Depression isn't something you just get and then fix and it's gone. It is an underlying problem that even when you think you're free, you're not and at some point it will show it's ugly fat head and you'll start that fight all over again.
Learning the signs of depression...
If you're lucky you can fight it early and it can become the norm to work out when and where the pain begins to set in and then getting the help you need.
It is all about learning YOUR signs and triggers not what google says they should be.
It is all about learning what YOU respond to and what YOU need to do when it strikes.
It is all about seeking help and believing that you can make it through
(harder than it sounds).
IT IS ALL ABOUT YOU AND YOUR DEPRESSION!
YOU AND YOUR LIFE!
Your depression may not add up to those stereotypical symptoms but it does not mean it is any less important. It just means that your battle has it's own individuality and will take it's own path...
Just like you!