An honest blog sharing the ups and downs of my personal mental health journey

Friday, 26 October 2018

But...You Don't Look Depressed?

*Sighs*...I'm writing this one reluctantly, but it's important.

If I had a quid for every time someone has said to me: "But you look so happy, how can you be depressed?" 

I would be filthy rich. 

What we do know, or what we should all know by now, is that depression doesn't discriminate.

How generous of depression...cheers!

As touched on in my To GP Or Not To GP post, mental illness works in different ways for different people, so does dealing with it and overcoming it.

When someone says to me: "But you don't look depressed!", I picture myself walking around in a long black cloak, a bit like the Grim Reaper, with a huge dark cloud over my head. Occasionally thought bubbles pop up saying things like 'You're Not Good Enough' or 'Why Are You Even Trying?'.

But the reality is I don't look like the Grim Reaper (at least I don't think I do, although 99% of my wardrobe is in fact black). I look like I've always looked and I act like I've always acted - outgoing, loud (sorry everyone) and usually laughing at something most people find extremely unfunny.

So why do people struggle to believe you're suffering from a mental illness just because you're not walking around with a huge frown on your face, wearing a placard that says: 'I'M DEPRESSED BY THE WAY'?

I personally believe it's a mixture of mental health miseducation and the individual that's suffering putting on a bloody good front. Basically, people with depression deserve a BAFTA half the time.

There's a common misconception that someone suffering with depression or another mental health illness is just a huge attention seeker. This is completely false, and a hugely negative connotation to suggest.

When you're suffering from depression or a similar illness, you'll do anything in your power to deflect the fact that you're feeling like absolute hell on earth. Hence the front, hence the acting like everything is normal and hence the not walking around dressed like the Grim Reaper/wearing a placard.

It's also a common misconception that someone suffering with a mental illness is selfish, because realistically you would do anything possible not to be thinking about yourself or what's going on in your own head. Again, a hugely negative connotation.

Behind closed doors of course, it's a different story. Your friends and people you pass in the street each day don't see the mornings you wake up and don't want to be awake at all. They don't see the days when your anxiety is so bad that you convince yourself something awful is going to happen if you step out of the front door, so you just stay inside all day without speaking to another person.

This, of course, all leads back to the ole' mental health stigma. Because people feel so uncomfortable talking about what is still hugely a taboo subject they just try and pretend it's not happening at all. The more you try and act normal and pretend nothing is happening, the more people believe you're fine - therefore it's a vicious circle.

This again links to communication and opening up about how you're feeling, as mentioned in my previous post.

It's so important to try and speak up about how you're feeling, even just so it's not such a huge shock to people when you turn around on an anxious day and say: "I don't want to leave the house today because I feel like absolute s**t, and there's a chance if I do I'll fall down the front steps and break my neck, which would just be typical wouldn't it? So I'll just stay at home and binge watch Friends and eat cheese instead" (I don't know if you can tell, but I'm talking from experience).

Because ultimately if you don't tell people how you're feeling, they won't know. I'm making it sound easy, and I know it's far from easy, but I've found that the more open and honest I am about how I'm feeling, the less 'but you don't look depressed at all' comments I get, and the more 'how're you feeling today?' questions I get.

Give it a try and see what happens. 


1 comment

  1. Yeah! Exactly I am completely agree with you that It is very important to try and speak up about how you're feeling. For example, Being a teenager can be a tough. There are changes taking place in your body and brain that affect how you think, learn and behave. So, it is necessity to talk with others that 'how're you feeling today?'. Thanks.
    Novela Neuro


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