At first I was going to talk about this subject on the podcast but my throat instantly clenched at the thought of physically having to say these words and feelings out loud. I don’t think I can bare it. Most of you are used to seeing my bright, up beat, positive posts on social media. Don’t get me wrong I am that girl, I am bright, and happy and fun. Most of the time. The other part of the time theres a darkness. A sort of haunting if you will. Like a slow moving fog rolling in. That slow moving fog is a little bastard known as depression.
So here we are. I want to talk about depression. More specifically “smiling depression.”
Smiling depression is a tricky little animal. According to Psychology Today, the definition of smiling depression is: “appearing happy to others, literally smiling, while internally suffering with depressive symptoms. Smiling depression often goes undetected. Those suffering often discount their own feelings and brush them aside. They might not even be aware of their depression, or want to acknowledge their symptoms due to a fear of being considered “weak.”
Another way to think about smiling depression is to see it as wearing a mask. People suffering from smiling depression may offer no hint of their problem to the outside world. They often maintain a full-time job, run a family household, participate in sports, and have a fairly active social life. With their mask on, everything looks great, even at times perfect. However, underneath the mask they are suffering from sadness, panic attacks, low self-esteem, insomnia, and, in some cases, suicidal thoughts.”
Sound familiar? In the past few months we have lost two public figures (Kate Spade, Anthony Boudain) who appeared to have it all. Successful careers, loving families, smiling pretty for all the photographs and press and look what happened.
Suicide can be a particular threat for people suffering with smiling depression. Typically, people suffering with classic, severe depression might have suicidal thoughts, but no energy to act on their feelings. However, those suffering from smiling depression have the energetic ability to plan and follow through. This is why smiling depression can be more dangerous than a classic form of severe depression.
For me suicide has always been an option. I am not encouraging this or saying that its right, but I always found it slightly comforting knowing I had a way out. Completely out. The good news is this type of thinking is treatable. Seeing a therapist has helped a lot. Coming clean and talking to the people closest to me, My family and friends, about these feelings has been liberating. I always felt so much shame about being depressed. I always felt stupid for feeling sad. I would think to myself, Jessica there are people in third world countries who don’t have shoes, what in the hell do you have to be sad about.
But thats not how it works. Being sad and depressed are emotions and those emotions stem from triggers and situations. They need to be worked out and brought to the surface in order to begin to heal. As long as you continue to deny or avoid what makes you feel empty, it will be near impossible to fix the problem. When depressive thoughts and feelings aren’t addressed, they build up and become worse.
I don’t believe my depression will ever completely go away. I think I will always have this monkey on my back. However I have learned to manage and train the monkey. Like the fog I can feel it start to creep in and I adjust myself accordingly.
I do anything and everything in my power to get out of my head. I don’t want suicide to be my plan B or plan C. I don’t want it as an option period.
If any of this sounds familiar to you or someone you know please know that you are not alone.
Yes, smiling depression is the most common form of depression but it is also the most treatable mental health condition. Please reach out if you need help. We are stronger together.