I used to do it too. The “I’m-fine-no-one-has-a-clue-how-much-I-think-about-not-living-anymore” routine. I did it very well, too. I was on top of my work, my appearance and everything that made my life look “normal”.
My method of choice to hide depression was work. LOTS of WORK. Hours and hours of it every day. Yes, I enjoyed what I was doing, up to a point. That point overlapped with an anxious, compulsive drive to keep going because having to stop left too much space to admit to myself that I was struggling. I lived like an emotional clam, only crying in private, at night. In the morning, I would get up on autopilot, the previous night’s tears completely buried under the famous motto, “I’m fine.”
Eventually, I couldn’t keep it up. I lost my appetite. I forgot things. I would go blank after studying. I felt overwhelmed all the time. Fatigue took over and at last, my carefully controlled facade was shattered and I couldn’t even be bothered to care. I had lost my grip, my ability to suppress and the emotional free fall was as terrible as it was relieving.
I share these memories to tell you that all of it matters, even if you think it doesn’t. Even if you think nobody knows.
And because here’s what would’ve helped me sooner:
Damn scary yes, but it helps. Admitting that you feel something won’t kill you, it just means you are alive. You may cry for a week if you’ve never let yourself cry in however many years, but you’ll live. You are allowed to feel pain, no matter what anyone else says. Pain says you are not a heartless human being with no soul. Validate that, and you will be able to receive the help, comfort and support you need. If you don’t validate the fact that you are in pain, the struggle will continue, because it’s like breaking a leg and saying it didn’t happen. Saying it isn’t so bad, won’t make that leg heal properly. (Yes, I said that too.)
Emotional coping skills
I had no idea about those. I had no idea I needed them and couldn’t have put it into words at the time either. It took me ages to learn to question my thinking, my moods and the trigger points for emotions that would send me into a spiral. It took me time to give myself a little grace, breathing room and enough kindness to understand what the problem was.
Please just start by telling someone. Or writing out how you feel. Paint it. Do anything constructive to express yourself and admit it. Give yourself space to be, as you are, without self-judgment, self-condemnation, self-accusation and all those other clubs you beat yourself up with. Give them to God; He loves you. He sees you. He knows. If He didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this to tell you.
You’re noticed, and it’s okay. You’re welcome.