What You Don't See About 'Happy' People With Depression

This piece was written by a Thought Catalog contributor.

I smile a lot. People meet me for the first time and often mention that. My energy is infectious and full of joy. My friends joke that I smile even when I shouldn’t. It’s my first instinct. It’s natural, something I do without even thinking about it. I smile at neighbors and strangers and babies and dogs wagging their happy tails.

I’m silly and a little loud. Every photo of that exists of me online I’m seen laughing or grinning. To the outside world, I look so happy. I always look so happy.

There’s this idea about what depression looks like. It’s one filled with messy, unmade beds and greasy hair. It’s someone who doesn’t go out to socialize. Someone who watches TV for hours on end. Like a human Eeyore. Gloomy and sad. Lifeless, really.

Depression looks different on everyone. It’s not a one-size-fits-all illness. And just because you can’t see it on someone, just because you can’t tell they’re struggling, doesn’t mean they aren’t affected.

Because when you’re the happy person, the smiley social butterfly, no one expects you to be hurting inside.

No one assumes there are things that go beyond the exterior. No one thinks there’s pain past the friendly outside.

When people see you as a happy person, it’s difficult to want to open up. If you don’t fit the narrow expectation of what depression is or what it can look like, it feels like you have to struggle in silence. Would I be disappointing them if they knew the truth? Would they look at me differently?

So, I don’t say anything. I continue being the happy, smiley, giggly person everyone knows. I go out. I text people back quickly. I show up to brunch and laugh with all my friends.

Depression sits in the background, like an uninvited guest. No one else can see it. But still, I know it’s there.

Even if I’m all smiles. 

This story is brought to you by Thought Catalog and Quote Catalog.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Unsplash photo via Matthew Hamilton.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Depression

business man

Dear Potential Employer: Here's Why You Should Hire Me, Depression, Anxiety and All

Dear Potential Employer, Over the past couple of years, I have been more and more open about my ongoing battle with depression and anxiety. While I have had a number of people reach out to me to thank me for being so open, I have also had a lot of people ask me if I am worried a [...]
Woman sitting alone on sunset and listening music.

This Summer, Depression Won't Win Again

Everyone is usually so excited for summer. Warm days, pool parties and the occasional adventure. But these are the things I fear most while struggling with depression in the summer. Summer means warmer weather, which realistically means less clothing. I hate showing my body. I am not the tiniest girl, but I have gained weight [...]
Empty big hall wall mockup. Woman walk in museum gallery with blank wall. White clear stand mock up lobby. Display artwork presentation. Art design empty floor. Expo studio wall in loft corridor.

What It Was Like to See a Psychiatrist for the First Time

Today, I saw a psychiatrist for the first time. It’s no surprise I ended up here. Since I was diagnosed, I assumed this day would come. Thankfully, I know there’s nothing shameful in this. I know this doesn’t make me “crazy,” but I’m still scared. I put off thinking about the appointment as much as [...]
girl looking down

6 Reasons I Won't Tell You I'm Depressed

“I never would have guessed you were depressed. You always seem so happy.” “Really, depression? I had no idea…” These are common responses I get when I mention depression has been part of my life. I hear the same reactions when we lose someone to suicide: “Can you believe it? I never even suspected he was struggling.” [...]