4 Things Depression Disguises Itself As
This piece was written by Lisa Bryant, a Thought Catalog contributor.
It’s not often one realizes they are struggling with depression. Depression is an uninvited guest that doesn’t call in advance of its arrival or knock on my door — it slips right in, unbidden, and stays. So often I’m not even aware of its existence because it so easily disguises itself as these other things.
1. My Friend.
I am always with my depression — it’s like a companion. I divulge everything to it. It always knows how my day is going, it always knows how I feel about a particular person or a particular situation. I confide my deepest concerns to it — it knows all of my secrets and gossip. It knows everything a best friend would know. So I often listen to it — taking its opinion to heart — because who wouldn’t listen to their closest friend? My depression knows me better than I know myself.
2. My Doctor.
Doctors tell me what I need to know in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Depression tells me to stay in bed, sometimes all day. Sometimes for a week. It tells me to binge drink, because that will make me feel better, if only temporarily. It tells me to stay home from the gym and take the escalator instead, along with every shortcut possible because, “What’s the point?” It thinks diets or cleanses are stupid and gimmicky. It tells me I am fine and everyone else needs to mind their own business. It urges me to go back to my bad habits, because they make me feel better, and that’s what doctors do, right? Most importantly, it tells me its not depression — clinically, at least — and that I am not the type of person that gets depressed. It urges me to “ignore the signs.” It convinces me it knows best and that, if I listen, I’ll feel better.
3. My Significant Other.
Depression makes me feel like I don’t need anyone else, even if I have someone else. It tells me I don’t deserve him/her or “I can do better.” It gets jealous of the great relationships I do have, and makes me angry, jealous or resentful towards them. It makes me say things I don’t mean, and ultimately it makes itself my #1, even though I didn’t choose it. It ignores all of the love being sent my way. It has a way of making me feel completely lonely, even if someone’s arms are around me. Relationships — the best ones at least — are built on trust. By contrast, depression makes me skeptical of everyone, and so I choose it as my #1.
4. My Happiness.
Make no mistake: depression can even disguise itself as happiness. Friends and family might say things like, “You’re always so happy” or comment on how much I smile, but it’s only depression tricking me. Sometimes, when alone, I’m so sad that, as soon as I have human contact, my depression will reveal itself as giddiness in fear of being exposed. Depression will turn me to social media. It will go on Instagram, post and show all these things that make me seem like a happy person. But depression is only lying to everyone. It can’t bear to show the truth, so it makes its own truth, in which gratification can be found in the number of “likes” I get.
The problem with depression is it’s my toxic friend I cannot help but hang around. Unhealthy in and of itself, depression can force me to make unhealthy choices. It masks my unhappiness by lying to the outside world, but it could never fulfill me like a real companion can.
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Thinkstock photo via sSplajn.