When people ask me, “how are you so happy and positive all the time?”
Here’s the truth, I’m not.
I’m really not.
I’ve had a long lasting relationship with depression all my life. For as long as I can remember. I have gotten better but I do occasionally have an affair with it. Which has its grave repercussions. And that’s my dirty little secret.
I have felt sadness and loneliness in the deepest parts of my soul unable to function. Most times unable to breathe.
I never wanted to end my life (even though most times I came so close to it) but I just wanted a pause button. To halt, to just, be able to breathe again.
Tragedy after tragedy, after you’ve lost everything you no longer can fight. You no longer have the courage to go on.
So you put on a face that you’re happy because society doesn’t know what to do with the unhappy. Because everyone believes it’s a disease including yourself. Because then there must be something wrong with you.
YOU find it so difficult to get up in the morning. YOU find it so difficult to fall a sleep. YOU can’t stop listening to the negative voices in your head. YOU feel like you can never be loved. YOU find the suicidal thoughts jarring. YOU feel like you are a burden. YOU feel no one understands. YOU feel life is pointless and existentialism hits in. YOU feel worthless. YOU what to harm your self. YOU feel ugly. YOU can’t look at yourself in the mirror. YOU feel incapable. YOU feel dejected.
So then there must be something wrong with YOU. So you pretend. You pretend to be happy. You try and adjust. You pretend everything is alright just so you don’t have to answer, “But why are you sad, you have everything going for you? You need not be so depressed.”
But little can people comprehend that depression is not a choice. You might have the best of everything and you may have achieved your hearts content but you still feel empty inside.
No one chooses to cry at every moment, no one chooses to be so quiet, no one chooses to feel so miserable, no one chooses to feel so lonely, no one chooses to feel broken, no one chooses to not allow people in. No one chooses to feel dead inside. Depression is never a choice. But how we deal with it is.
We can wallow in self pity and self loathing for the rest of our lives or we can do something about it. Something like, seeking professional help, helping others, volunteering in homes or shelters where you can be of service and maybe helping people in ways you can’t understand, can help you also.
So this is my secret. I am not happy all the time. But I try with all my heart to be joyful. I don’t like being sad but sometimes, the pain takes over and I am just left there unable to breathe again. This over the years has made me highly sensitive to people. I now not only can see the pain in humans, I can feel it. People say it’s a gift. A gift to feel others sadness and loneliness. That my intuition is strong. I don’t know. How can feeling everyone’s brokenness ever be a gift? I’m still figuring that one out.
Recently I went to a Karaoke. Yes, me the awkward, anxious introvert. But I needed a distarction. I needed to have ‘fun’. I needed to br around human being and change the negativity in my mind. So everyone is having a good time dancing and singing their hearts.
There’s a girl sitting there, we don’t know each other. I go to her and ask her if she’s alright. She looks surprised. They always look surprised. She smiles and burst into tears. I guess because she sensed someone cares. We don’t say anything and I hugged her.
People often ask me “but how can you tell someone is hurting?”
“I just pay attention.” I reply.
I guess it’s easier because I know what it feels like when people don’t pay attention, I know what it feels like to not be heard. I know what it feels like to be scared to share. I know what it feels like to lie in your own pool of blood resenting yourself. I know that cutting yourself will do you more harm than release you of any pain. I know pain has always been a best friend but it has always taught me a lot. It’s taught me to be more sensitive to people.
So for whatever time I have, I listen. Otherwise the remaining time I become a spazz, I become a weirdo and I unleash my ‘crazy’ person so that people can laugh and maybe feel better about their lives even if it’s for a fraction of a second. And by doing this invariably I too feel happy from within.
I believe a human being looks best with a smile on. A genuine smile. So I try. I try in little ways possible.
Photography: Carl Spies