Why the Hardest Part of My Depression Is Its Invisibility

For me, the scariest and saddest part about depression is how invisible it is.

I have become so good at hiding and masking my pain that even my doctors are perplexed. I “want” to be OK, which, to me, is being at peace with my mind, body and spirit. But my depression does not allow that as often as I would like. Instead, I am dying of emotional pain and despair on the inside while my outside demeanor shows a different story.

That “display’” is happy, outgoing, content and smiling. The conflicting parts are continually at war with being honest about the truth when my actual state of being comes into question. I was told the other day by my psychiatrist, “Courtney, you have such a happy demeanor, it’s very hard for me to tell when you are having a bad day or when you are depressed.”

It really bummed me out when he said that. It made me realize that for over 20 years now, I have been a misrepresented and conflicted girl. Why is it so easy for me to mask my pain?

If my pain were to show on the outside, it would look like a woman who has the worst rash you have ever seen. I envision it to look like I have poison ivy all over my body. Then it would be known that something was wrong and I would look like I need help.

I don’t know if it’s my pride or my ego or my shame around the truth about what goes on deep inside my mind, but all I can tell you is that this conflict makes the struggle harder. I have set out on my own personal mission to speak my truth about struggling with major depression so that maybe I could possibly align my insides with my outsides.

Today, I woke up feeling very low, and like a five-year-old child, I declared in my head, “I don’t want this anymore!” Like that would take it away. This has been going on since I turned 18. Little did I know, it would follow me around for the next 25 years like a loyal enemy. I know deep in my heart, the only thing that can help me is 100 percent acceptance of what is: low days, emotional pain, struggle to show up for my life, deep sadness, sickening despair, dark thoughts and unexplained dread.

That is why the stigma around mental health breaks my heart. If you saw the brain image of a person with depression and an image of person without depression, you might be able to tell that this is not a choice. This is not a sign of weakness, laziness or “craziness.”

I consider myself a warrior, well, more like a peaceful warrior, because I fight the fight against an illness that wants to take me down. I try to fight with grace and love because I am completely humbled by this degree of pain.

I look forward to when the sunny days outweigh the cloudy ones. For now, any moment I get some inner peace and stillness in my mind, I am so grateful.

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Thinkstock photo via piyapong sayduang

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