What You Don't See About 'Happy' People With Depression
This piece was written by Kris Miller, 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.
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Unsplash photo via Matthew Hamilton.