In Mind & Body on
January 31, 2018

A Personal Battle With Smiling Depression

YOU POST PHOTOS OF YOURSELF AT WORK, OUT WITH FRIENDS HAVING THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE. BUT INSIDE YOUR STRUGGLING, FIGHTING A WAR NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT. AND IT FEELS LIKE YOUR LOSING.

It has taken me some time to finally sit down and write this, but I feel like it’s a story that needs to be shared. Coming to terms with anxiety and depression have been tough. Years ago I developed PPD after giving birth to my daughter, which only intensified after having two miscarriages a few years later.

Dealing with a divorce, becoming a single parent, living with her parents and numerous other stresses in my life have hit me head on, often in ways, I would have never imagined. Since I’ve never been one to vent my true personal feelings to others or even relay the message of “I’m hurting”, I did what I always do: I smiled.

Depression can take on many forms, my depression is hidden behind a smile.

THE MASK IS VERY SIMPLE

BUT YET THE THICKEST

OF ALL THE MASKS

IT IS RARELY REMOVED

NEVER FIXED

I learned how to hide my depression behind a smile many years ago. In fact, working at Walt Disney World you learn how to behave “on stage” and “off stage”. I began applying these methods originally meant for working in customer service to my everyday life.

Have you ever thought to imagine the number of people you pass on a daily basis who are smiling, upbeat, and joyful? Meanwhile internally they’re falling apart, trying to fight this rage that’s deep within them. When we speak of depression, depressive folks are often depicted as constantly crying, lying in bed 24 hrs, unkempt hair, unable to move and unable to do the simplest of tasks. But as a parent, I know that this is not possible. And as a single parent, it’s damn near 100% impossible to do for me to do even half of that. Not having the ability to let your guard down and remaining strong for yourself and your children is a struggle for many single parents. With so much to worry about, it’s no wonder depression and anxiety are at all-time highs.

Not everyone experiences depression in the same way. Some may be chipper and happy, others may be moody and angry. Still, others may just cut themselves off from the world altogether. Depression does not have a certain look it, does not gravitate towards a certain type of person, or any type of situation. You can have everything in the world but still be unhappy. It’s not because you’re hard to please or you’re just never satisfied. Depression does not discriminate.

THE TRUTH THAT REMAINS

THAT WERE SCARED TO ADMIT

SO WE HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT

WITH A COLLECTION OF MASKS

THE ONES WE WEAR

TO MAKE SOMEONE ELSES DAY

The hallmark of smiling depression is smiling. For years I have used my smile and external does facade as a defense mechanism. Never Letting on to the fact that I am really truly hurt and unable to cope with a situation and things that are going on with me daily.

You can consider my smile as a mask. We all wear masks daily and my smile is just in one of my mask used to hide how I truly feel.

Underneath this mask is sadness, anger, low self-esteem, panic attacks and insomnia.

WE ALL WEAR MASKS

ONE WAY OR ANOTHER

EVEN IF WE THINK WE DONT

IN REALITY

WE DO.

THEY ARE USED TO COVER OUR FLAWS.

THE ONES WE DONT WANT OTHERS

TO KNOW ABOUT

THE SECRETS WE HIDE

WHICH CONTINUE TO BREAK

OUR HEART EVERY DAY

The ability to leave no hint that your world is secretly falling apart while projecting constant happiness is a constant struggle. Often leaving me completely exhausted by the end of the day, that’s when the real struggles come. When my mood has decreased and my frustrations increased, and I am unable to cope with even the simplest of things, this is when I have my nightly breakdowns. After the kids are gone to bed and the house has quieted down, alone with the lights down, the TV on mute: I sit and cry.

I am one of those who initially considered getting help as a sign of weakness. I was strong. Everyone is always commenting on my strength. My ability to handle situations without breaking a sweat. But I now realize this is just one of the repercussions of my smiling depression. I succeeded with my mask. I won. I projected such an image of happiness and stability that no one knew what was really going on inside. They didn’t know that my ability to cope with every little thing was a lie when in reality I am just like everyone else in need of help.

NO ONE EVER KNOWS

WHAT HURTS THE MASK-CARRIER

ALL THE TIME.

ITS JUST ONE WORD

SMILE.

You Have People Who Love You And Want Help You

As a perfectionist, I often set very high expectations for myself. Ambitious high achieving types are usually those most at risk for smiling depression. For years I’ve lived with the impression that it’s better to project an image of calm and well put together, than that of “crazy” or “unstable”. Divulging my struggles to close friends and family was not an option. Opening myself in a way that could lead to my vulnerability scared me. I just wasn’t ready.

Sometimes I forget those closest to me would be happy for me to open up to them in the same way they would for me. Feeling like a burden to those around you is a common feeling for depressed individuals, but it is often time rooted in falsehoods.

And Then You Have People That Don’t Want To Hear It

It messes me up knowing black girls and women must live life as magicians, wonder women, always digging deep to deal with everyday aggressions from white people, black men, state institutions, religious bodies, jobs, and so much else.

Have you ever tried to divulge those feelings but it fell flat? I’ve opened myself up in the past and my feelings were promptly brushed off because “well at least your not….” or “be happy it’s not…”

Worse yet, divulging those feelings and being told you need to pray about it instead. In the black community, we are raised to believe you can overcome anything with prayer. Insisting that someone is suffering because they don’t have a relationship with God is not only insulting but at the moment it could mean a matter of life or death and your choosing to focus (nitpick) on the details.

The stigma that “black people don’t have these problems” have become harmful over the years to the black community. Now more than ever we have young black girls and boys not seeing any other way out of situations because they have no on to talk to.

Social Media Silencers

When it comes to social media and sharing I’m never going to be one to tell people don’t share your feelings. Take a look at your friends’ list, you can spot the people that are constantly negative and downplaying others struggles. Do yourself a favor and get rid of those folks. They aren’t worth your time or energy.

Despite your efforts to be positive, there will always be someone that has a problem with what you say. The problem will always be with them not you. If posting motivational quotes on your Facebook page is what helps get you through the day, then do it!!

When people get comfortable silencing others and telling them how to voice or deal with their frustrations it becomes dangerous and you are putting someone’s life at risk. Not everyone has close friends or family to talk to, some can’t afford quality care, so should we discourage them from speaking out altogether because it makes you uncomfortable or annoyed?

FIND 

As I’ve gotten older, I start to look at things in a different way. What was not so obvious as a child or even young adult, becomes more in your face as you grow and mature. Maybe it’s because I have my own children now, but I would never want them to feel like they have to go through life faking a smile just to make others comfortable.

THIS IS ME

I have smiling depression. I’m not ashamed of it and I never will be. I have learned that being open about what hurts you most is the only way to heal. For those of you that are struggling and afraid to let others see your vulnerable side, it’s never too late to open up your heart and try.

Your not a burden. 

You are loved.

You are needed.

Your ideas matter.

Your voice matters.

“Learning to speak from the depths of your heart will take you into a miraculous new territory. Give yourself a little grace every now and then.”-Nicole Caudle

Mask  and Smile by Nicole Caudle

Community by Rupi Kaur from The Sun and Her Flowers

Mother of two, photographer, and fitness enthusiast hoping to inspire others to live healthy.

It's only fair to share...
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrEmail this to someonePrint this pageBuffer this pageDigg this
Previous Post Next Post

4 Comments

  • Reply Jenn

    The biggest thing that I love about this is that it becoming less and less taboo to talk about. Good for you for opening up.
    Jenn recently posted…Sometimes I Struggle #BellLetsTalk A Look into an Anxious MindMy Profile

    January 31, 2018 at 10:40 pm
  • Reply Jasmine A

    I have never heard of the term smiling depression. I knew the idea, but I didn’t know it was so common to have a name for this type.
    I am not a part of the black community and don’t know what it’s like to have to fight through everything they go through, but I am so glad you have the courage to speak up and stand up for them. You are brave enough to show them it’s ok to go through this even when so many people tell them it’s not. You inspire me.

    February 1, 2018 at 12:54 am
  • Reply April Jouas

    Thank you for sharing this, I too am glad that this topic has become more open for women to share their experiences.

    February 1, 2018 at 12:04 pm
  • Reply Marie

    Empathy, acknowledgement, and listening are things I have learned to do from my own experience…I found most people wanted to “solve” my challenges or trivialize them though unequal comparisons. Well meaning I’m sure, but SIGH. Hang in there Mama XOXO

    February 2, 2018 at 3:48 am
  • Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge

    You may also like

    Before starting any new diet and exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise and/or diet changes with them before beginning. I am not a doctor or registered dietitian. I do not claim to cure any cause, condition or disease. I do not provide medical aid or nutrition for the purpose of health or disease and claim to be a doctor or dietitian. This is merely an opinion blog. Read full disclaimer here - https://fitfotog.com/start-here/