What the Girl Hiding Her Major Depressive Disorder Needs You to Know
If you ask her how she is doing, she will say she is good and do it with a smile. If you start a conversation with her, she will engage with you and seem at ease. If you tell a joke, she will laugh and maybe tell one of her own. If you invite her to a social event, she will gladly accept and express excitement.
If she was honest, she would say she is not well and let you know she is struggling. The conversation would be brief, not because she dislikes you but because it is too difficult to engage in one. She won’t laugh at your joke, not because it isn’t funny but because she’s concentrating on holding in her tears. She would decline your invitation, not because she doesn’t want to see you but because social situations are unbearable at the moment. She knows she won’t be able to keep up appearances.
Please, understand her dishonesty is nothing personal, nor is it malicious. It is something she has perfected during her lifetime. It has become second nature. She has been witness to stigma surrounding mental illness and has a hard time believing you care. She is scared you will judge her or make light of her sadness. She fears you will leave if she is honest.
She doesn’t know how to be herself, only who she thinks people want her to be. She cries alone wishing for the pain to stop. Her head is filled with self-hatred and self-doubt. Anxiety prevents her from performing daily tasks. She wants to ask for help but doesn’t know how. She believes the overwhelming sadness is inevitable and she is at fault. She can’t remember feeling any other way. She figures it’s easier to appear to be who she thinks you want her to be than to burden you with her true self.
She suffers from major depressive disorder and anxiety. She hadn’t yet reached puberty when the feelings of unexplainable sadness, anger, fear, hopelessness, worthlessness and thoughts of suicide first began. She is observant and self-conscious, believing people are talking negatively behind her back. She has lied when offered treatment, not because she didn’t need it but because she felt she wasn’t worth the time to help.
She hates herself for living in pain and sadness when she is grateful for everything and everyone in her life. Please understand she wants to be honest but she needs you to know:
1. Years of pain have been masked behind a smile and achievements. The layers she has built as protection will not be simple to remove. Be patient and supportive. Prove to her you won’t leave
2. Please learn about her mental illness and be sympathetic. If you have questions, ask. Judgements and assumptions are not helpful.
3. She truly believes you feel as negatively about her as she does about herself.
4. She doesn’t believe her pain is worth your time.
5. She doesn’t believe she is worthy of anything.
6. She believes your life would be better without her in it.
If she was to be honest, then she would tell you she wants to get better but can’t do it alone. Your support is vital to her recovery. She would admit she needs you. She would welcome your reassurance that happiness is possible and to know she can count on you. Your support could pull her out of the darkness. She would believe you were not judging her and be open to letting you in.
If she was honest and let you in, would you be willing to try and understand or would you walk away? Could she count on you or would you prove her right and abandon her?