Have you ever thought that a friend or a relative of yours may be hiding depression?
Depression is a monster, plain and simple, and there is no other way to look at this debilitating disease. Most people think that depression is easily recognizable too, but that’s not always the case. Some people move through this life wearing a mask to hide their depression.
I love using that analogy because I have worn many masks to conceal my depression – the mask of fake cheer, the mask of anger and the mask of comfortable numbness or complacency.
I bet you wonder why we do this, why we choose to hide our true feelings. Well, there are many reasons, but the main reason is that others usually fail to understand us. So it’s better to hide the darkness away under the pretense of happiness.
If you feel that someone you love is hiding depression, then here are the indicators. Plus, I’ve given you a few tips on how to address the situation as well.
1. Faking happiness
Those who are hiding depression may seem happy, even overly ecstatic at times. If your loved one has been battling depression for years, they may be experts at covering dark with light. With today’s responsibilities, we, as the ultimately depressed, feel it’s necessary to put on a ‘face’, so to speak. Unfortunately, there have been many suicides where no one really understood the reasonings until it was revealed that depression was the culprit. To others, victims seemed rather… happy. Pay attention to the telltale signs of masked emotions, we will let it slip sometimes.
2. Cover-ups or lies
We victims of depression are great at fabricating things to hide what’s really going on in our life. Sometimes the true circumstances are just too hard to talk about, and so we lie. Maybe our actions aren’t socially acceptable or we need to cover up scars from cutting or self-abuse. There are many reasons why we create a false accounting of a situation. For you, our dearly beloved, pay attention and you could be able to help without blowing our cover. We would appreciate it!
3. Cries for help
Those who suffer from depression have a subtle way of crying for help. These times may be few and far between, but they are there. When we do cry for help, no matter how quietly, make sure to take this seriously. It might be the only time we ask for your help. Remember, this is not a way to get attention, this is a way to bridge the divide between those who suffer and those who desire to understand. Connection is key to being a successful hero.
4. Being abandoned
One of the hardest things to endure with depression is abandonment. Many times when our friends or loved ones find out how deep the depression runs, they will walk away. This can be devastating to us and most certainly makes the depression worse. It is vital that you have patience with yourself or your loved ones who suffer from depression. You may be one of the only people around to help. Try your hardest to be understanding and open-minded.
5. It’s okay! We got this!
Believe it or not, the mentally ill do understand the repercussions of drugs and alcohol. Because of familiarity, we understand that depressants, such as alcohol, can make our condition worse, and so we know how to limit its use. We also understand how other drugs can alter the mind, so don’t be too over-protective and judgmental. Just listen and offer advice on this subject sparingly. As we all know, badgering leads to spite in many cases. Besides, many of us are alcohol and drug-free. It varies.
6. Sleeping and eating disorders
With depression, there is generally some sort of sleeping or eating disorder. Either you sleep too much or not enough. The same goes with eating. As a friend of the mentally ill, you must try to be supportive by reminding those who are hiding depression that eating and sleeping are huge parts of staying healthy. Tact is important, however, so be kind.
7. Our own remedies
Although medication is the best-known disguise for depression, we have other things that help cover our frailties. Using our own remedies is another way of hiding depression on many occasions. Sometimes just getting outside for a walk or run can be such great therapy and it temporarily masks our sadness. In order to appear normal, we have to have our intellect stimulated. Want to help replace darkness with light? Keep us inspired and keep depression at bay.
8. Life and death
One high indicator that your loved one is hiding depression is the depth of their conversation about life and death. Mortality weighs heavy on us, sometimes from as early as childhood. I have spiraled into episodes as a child simply by thinking about my own death. I believe this is one of the darkest corners of depression. The only way to combat this feeling within us is to just listen. Be honest, don’t try and sugar coat death, it is what it is. If you’re careful, a few strategically placed jokes even help.
9. Seeking a purpose
Just as talk of life and death are prevalent, so is life’s purpose. Although this may sound repetitive, we seek purpose in life from its beginning till its end. If we’re having concerns about the meaning of life, then we may be suffering from depression. I have to be careful myself when talking about all the things I should have done and my unconquered dreams. As with life and death discussions, the best approach to helping your loved one is to be our sounding board.
10. Creativity and expression
Watch for the talented in your life – your friends, your family. Many times, depression hides behind the many creative abilities of the person it inhabits. Take myself, for instance, I paint, write, play piano and other miscellaneous creative things. I also suffer from bipolar disorder which includes depression. I can even venture out to say that 90 percent of artists suffer from depression. Now that’s just my opinion, so don’t knock it. In this case, if you find your creative sister, brother or niece is truly suffering from depression, then just let them continue on their creative pathways. It just helps if you support our creative endeavors as well.
11. Seeking love and acceptance
Hey, you should always pay attention to those who want to be accepted or crave love. Often times, these are people who do not feel the good stuff, so it’s important to provide a little sunshine when you have more than enough. Although we should all guard our hearts, to a certain extent, there comes a time when we really need to pay attention to those who really need to be cared for emotionally. Love can never be a bad thing.
Although depression isn’t always hidden, most times it is. The largest reason why we choose to conceal this darkness is because darkness is not acceptable. Society wants us to cover this with a mask. I have found that in order to brighten this darkness, we need to look it square in the eye and deal with the issues. It’s time we stopped hiding depression and what we really are and find connections who are willing to help us heal.
For a moment, just a moment, remove the mask. I want to see who you really are.