What It’s Like to Be an Extrovert With Depression
This piece was written by Ae Padilla, a Thought Catalog contributor.
Depression is not picky. It latches onto anyone. Rich or poor, young or old, introverted or extroverted.
Depression does not give you a manual. It does not tell you how to deal with it once it picks you. It does not say “exercise three times a week, listen to only upbeat songs and you will be cured.” Oh no, it leaves you to fend for yourself, making you feel utterly alone
Sometimes though, the people closest to us, the ones looking out for us, can tell when we feel this way. They recognize how we have become warped versions of ourselves. They can even see us surrendering to the lies depression tells us: that we are worthless and will always feel this way.
But sometimes people can’t tell. Sometimes we hide it so well that the only way they will know the extent of our problem is when we finally crack under the pressure of that secret. And it’s easier to hide depression, and sometimes harder to deal with it, when you are an extrovert. Someone like me, someone who surrounds themselves with a bunch of people, who is always ready to accompany someone to happy hour, a “people person.”
Being an extrovert with depression — and constantly maintaining a lively personality even in the midst of real issues — can sometimes feel like you are lying to the world. It makes depression something only you can deal with, when you can finally take off “the mask” after a long day.
The mask or the façade is the cover people like me and others wear to stop people from being skeptical of the inner turmoil we suppress. The mask we spend a long time carving, painting, fitting specifically to our proportions. The one that as we get older becomes more sophisticated and increasingly more dangerous.
It’s the one extroverts understand. Because having depression as an extrovert comes down to not being taken seriously. It’s society not validating our illness. It’s people not believing our struggle.
It’s being told “What do you mean you are on antidepressants? You always seem so happy.”
It’s hearing how you must be over-exaggerating your condition because there is no way you can be laughing with friends on the same night you go home and cry yourself to sleep.
Being a depressed extrovert is knowing that people will make you happy because sometimes being happy by yourself seems like an impossible task. It is having a constant need to be there for everyone but yourself. It is continuously wanting to solve everyone’s problems. It is finding some bravery to share your story with one person of many but always picking the wrong person. It is — as weird as this sounds — feeling as if you aren’t allowed to be depressed because you have to be the one to have it all together. You have to be the person people gravitate towards when they want to have a good time.
Being a depressed extrovert is never having anyone ask you how you are doing because they assume you have no legitimate problems.
Understandably then, the real state of your mind, the one filled with crippling self-esteem issues, creates a level of shock to everyone you expose yourself to, when you decide like me that you finally should.
See, I used to be proud of that mask and how much it helped me. When I was younger I thought my depression stifled my true self and made people not want to hang out with me. If I could find a way to conceal it, I would be by all accounts a “better” person. But this was up until a recent realization. Yes, I am more happy, alive and spontaneous as my true personality begins to shine forth, and don’t get me wrong this is all great — but those traits are not all of me.
Depression is some of me too, and I and other extroverts must accept that.
I have to let the soul sucking feeling of depression have its moment, embrace it and treat it so that eventually it passes, and let people see that real me, not just the person I am at a party.
Because unfortunately the truth is that if you fit the mask so well to your face, after years there is no need to adjust it anymore. And then it simply stays there forever on you, unable to be taken off until you have no idea where your real face and the fake one end and begin — they are practically one in the same.
We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.
Image via Thinkstock