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When most people think of depression, they envision someone who is obviously in pain. But, the fact of the matter is, depression comes in many forms.

For the vast majority of my adult life, I have been depressed. However, my depression is considered to be “high functioning,” or “smiling” depression, because, on the outside, I do not show my depression.

Throughout the years, even on my darkest days, I have maintained a job, kept my house up, and gotten by. While every day is not easy, I try to find a way to laugh, even when that seems impossible. In many cases, I am the punch line of my jokes, because it’s a weird way that I cope.

Oftentimes, even when people notice that I might not be as happy as I seem, I try to pass it off by saying I am fine.

Behind the scenes, though, the reality of my situation is much different than I allow others to see. Some days, I struggle to get anything done, aside from work. On some days, I lay in bed for hours, crying. I get frustrated, lose all motivation, and on some days, I honestly don’t know how I will make it through.

I cancel many plans, saying that I am getting sick. However, the sickness is much less physical and a lot more emotional and mental. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to deal with, but there again, I try to not share what’s brewing beneath the surface because it is all very personal to me.

I guess somewhere deep within me, I believe that if I let others know how depressed I am, it will make it real. I want more than anything to wake up and be happy, genuinely happy, at least. So in my mind, I feel like the more I fake it, the sooner it will be that I wake up and that will be my reality.

I won’t say that it’s all bad, though, I have a love of truly joyful moments. And I am not always depressed. But, even during those true moments of bliss, I can’t help but worry about when the other shoe will drop. When is something terrible going to come along and steal my joy once more? So, even when I am happy, I am anxious because I don’t want it to stop.

Unfortunately, the shoe does always drop, and I end up stuck in my depression once more.

While most people believe to be depressed you have to be visually falling apart, or someone who can’t get in the shower, or clean their house, this isn’t always the case. For the most part, I keep everything afloat. But, looks can be deceiving. You don’t have to be falling apart to be depressed.

Most people who know me think I am happy and optimistic. In reality, as much as I want that to be the case, it’s a struggle. But it’s been my struggle for a long time, and to be quite honest with you, I don’t know if I would even know what to do without it.