She seems happy to me, she can’t be depressed? I can’t tell you how many times people told me they had no idea I was depressed. They would say that I looked so happy, that I was laughing, everything seemed to be OK. I even had a professor in college tell my mom, that he didn’t believe I was depressed because he would see me out at basketball games, etc., and I was always happy and smiling. That did not sit well with my mom. She knew my struggle, she knew what was going on, but to most everyone else, I just didn’t fit the part. I seemed fine on the outside, but nothing was fine on the inside. There’s this preconceived notion that if you’re depressed, you look depressed, act depressed, and are automatically a loner, introverted, and give off a depressed vibe. (Yeah, whatever that is).
It frustrated me that people had no idea I was hurting because I “didn’t look depressed.” I can’t blame others, I wasn’t exactly forthcoming with my problems. No one actually wants to talk about it. Ironically, I’m probably more social when I’m depressed. I know that doesn’t make sense to an outsider, but it’s true. For me the noise of the crowds, the interaction of others, the laughter, it just took me away. You can’t spend time with others, and focus on your internal dialogue. You catch up with friends, cheer on your team, laugh, and listen to your husband rant about how awesome Kansas basketball is. Can I tell you how old that gets? I digress.
A friend of mine who struggled with depression, said he felt the same way. That social events took his mind off of things, allowed him to escape the vicious cycle of negative thoughts, the anxiety, the worry about where things are at in day to day life. I could totally relate. It was encouraging, and validating to me, that being social was actually medicine for my soul. Granted I am an introvert, and I can only do so much socializing, but I realized that when I’m down or things are stressful or hard, this is one of the things I have to prioritize for myself when I’m in the midst of depression or feel it coming on.
I know it sounds silly to prioritize socializing, but for me it works. Don’t feel guilty about the fact that others don’t understand or maybe even believe that you are depressed. Realize you’re working on your mental health. You’re doing what’s best for you, and it’s one more way we can break the mold of how others view mental illness. Mental illness doesn’t always look the way you think but it’s real and it’s there.
If you know of someone who struggles with depression take them out for a cup of coffee and see how they are doing. You never know how you might turn around someone’s day, and change the pattern of their thinking just by sharing a few laughs.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25