Against my better judgment, I am writing this post. Sigh.
Hi. My name is Jennifer and this is what my depression looks like. It’s not always sadness and looking unkempt. Often times it’s this…smiling to hide the reality. Smiling to avoid explaining the sadness. Smiling because I don’t fully understand what I’m sad about. Smiling so people won’t tell me all I need to do is pray. Smiling so they won’t tell me someone else has it worse than me. Smiling because tears lead to questions. Smiling because they would never understand the war I endure everyday. Smiling because it’s expected. Smiling to hide the hurt. Smiling because sometimes it’s easier.
But the reality is, pretending to be ok is not easy. It only adds to the struggle. I have to wonder how well I am hiding it. I have to try to be “on” all the time. I have to look a certain way, act a certain way, do certain things so everyone will think I’m fine. And that can be so draining.
By now I’m sure your questions are forming…why are you depressed? What happened to you? You have so much to be thankful for…why are you focusing on the sadness? We all have problems, what makes yours so different? Have you prayed about it?
If you are looking for answers to those questions, I don’t have any. I can’t tell you why I feel the way I feel. Sometimes my sadness is self-inflicted. Even though I may have put myself in a situation, being in that situation feeds into my self-doubt and negative image of myself. I also carry other people’s problems with me and that adds to my stress as well. But most of the time, I can’t really describe what it is. It’s just…sadness and frustration. Sure I could say it’s money problems or failed relationships or taking forever to finish college. Those situations can be the starting off point but it can become so much deeper than that. Failing creates doubt. Doubt leads to anxiety. Anxiety can become insecurity. Insecurity can manifest to negativity of the I’m-not-good-enough-so-why-even-try variety.
Now this isn’t an everyday feeling. I have very good days. I have days when I am happy with myself and I am confident. But there are days when all I want to do is be alone. And being alone with my thoughts is a breeding ground for self-doubt.
I am sharing this today because maybe there are people out there like me. While it might not fit the bill for clinical depression, this sadness is real. Maybe it’s too hard for you to admit it. Maybe you never knew what you were feeling. Maybe you think you deserve this hurt. Maybe you don’t know where to turn. For years I have coped with this the best way I know how which is writing and just letting it pass on its own. That’s not really working for me anymore and I have decided to go see a counselor. If you have ever felt anything close to what I have described, I urge you to put your fear of judgment aside and talk to someone.
Maybe later on down the road I will be able to share how I overcame. But right now, this is just my transparent moment, sharing a piece of me hoping that it can help me and someone else in the process.
SN: If your only comment to this post is “just pray about it”, please don’t say anything at all. Prayer alone is not enough. If it were, this post wouldn’t be necessary.