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Why I Wish My Sweater Was Different This World Mental Health Day


Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

A smile hides so many things: pain, tiredness, stress, anxiety and even depression

I put this sweater on this morning totally by accident. I didn’t purposely wear it and it briefly slipped my mind that today is World Mental Health Day.

It’s a pretty cheerful sweater, but I wish it didn’t say “smile.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that; they say smiling is infectious. But, as I’ve said, a smile can hide so much. How do you know mine is genuine? The one thing a smile definitely can’t tell you is how happy someone actually is. 

Just by looking at me smiling, you’d never be able to guess I have been diagnosed with acute generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and depression with suicidal ideation. I’ve had this for just over two years now, but some days it still feels like I was diagnosed yesterday. I’m on medication to control it and for the most part, it works well for me. But I couldn’t stop taking it, even if I wanted to. My happiness now depends on a little pill.

Instead of smile, I wish this sweater said “let’s talk.”

Why?

Well, because two years ago, if I didn’t have a friend who asked me, “do you want to talk about it?” Then, I cant honestly say I’d be here now. I was having some very strong suicidal thoughts, like “how can I go to sleep and just not wake up?” Even now, it’s hard to put that in writing, to see that those were the words going through my head. But someone I know saw through my smile and asked me how I was feeling, and that broke right into me, shattered all those awful thoughts and got me to open up. 

And I will be forever grateful to that person because they saved me from myself. My family still get to see me every day. It has helped me to be open with my feelings and talk things through if I’m struggling. But I’ve also learned to not take everyone at face value. You don’t need to be sad or bawling your eyes out to have depression and, as I realized, even the seemingly happiest and smiliest people can also feel suicidal

So, if there’s one thing I can ask of you all, please go check on your smiley cheerful friends and ask if they need to talk. Because in my opinion, talking saves lives!

Image Credits: Fay Timblin

Image via contributor