Not faking depression

I am a different person, depending on who I’m with. When I’m with my University friends; I laugh more, I chat more, I become more cheerful around them. When I’m alone with my thoughts, that’s when the insecurities start to creep in. I start feeling worthless, a failure, it’s more often when I’m in isolation that I’ll start to feel lonely and unhappy.

My friends very rarely, if ever, get a glimpse into that side of me. Partly because I try my hardest to hide that part away from them. Partly because I am genuinely happier in their company.

The conflict with this is that I then feel like an imposter when I admit to them I have mental health issues. I feel as though they must be thinking, ‘Depression? What depression? But you’re always happy when I see you.’

Earlier in the week, I told my friend, the only friend who currently knows about my mental health issues, that I was going to see my psychiatrist for an appointment on Tuesday. Later in the week, I hung out with her and a couple of our friends from Uni. I certainly didn’t act the part of someone who’d need to be seeing a psychiarist for depression. 

On MSN tonight, I was chatting to another friend. We are planning to go out for a movie on Tuesday. I told her I couldn’t in the morning due to an appointment from 10 to 11am.
‘Is everything okay Cass?’ she asked.
‘Yeah, why do you ask?’ ‘
Nah, it’s that you seem to be going to appointments,’ she replied.

I suppose you could argue there is a part of me that wants my friend to know about my mental health issues by telling her I have an hour long appointment on Tuesday. I could have given the excuse that, oh, I don’t know, I have class or something? Fine. I admit it. Yes, there is a part of me that wants to confide in a close friend. I long to be able to be honest, to say, ‘I’m seeing my psychologist today,’ rather than making excuse after excuse after excuse as to why I need to catch the bus straight after class, why I’m not free at a particular time to hang out.

I could have taken that opportunity to tell her that no, things aren’t as dandy as I make it out to be. But I didn’t.  I lost my nerve. ‘Yeah, nah, I’m alright, thanks for asking.’

From my experiences, society’s perception of depression seems to be that if you are afflicted with this illness, you are unhappy all the time. All. The. Time. You’ll have a frown permanantly enfixed on your face and you’ll be lethargic and disinterested in everything and everyone. I’ve heard my mother say on more than one occasion, ‘But she doesn’t look depressed,’ and ‘She doesn’t seem to be the type of person who’d suffer from depression.’

Yes, there are people who are affected in this way by depression, they are unable to get out of bed because they cannot face the day. Yet there are so many others who are deeply depressed but high functioning. They put on a mask and they’re forced to be okay, even when they’re not. Their masks have been crafted and perfected so that no one is able to see the pain behind this mask.

I admit, I used to have this view of people with depression too. That I’d be able to tell easily if someone is depressed. That they’d all be quiet, desolate type people. But I’ve learnt.  I’ve met plenty who struggle with mental health issues, some quite severe too, but I’d never have known just by looking, or even spending a short amount of time with them.

I wish others would learn too. That mental illnes is not always apparent from the outside. It would, for one, make it easier for me to tell my friends of my mental health issues, without the fear of appearing as a phony.

People’s opinions of me matter far too much and the last thing I want is for friends to think this as a ploy to seek attention and sympathy, that I’m faking my issues. I’m not. Honest.

7 thoughts on “Not faking depression

  1. i can relate. i tried for yrs to pretend that everyting was ok. went uni, graduated, got a job. then slowly,but surely i started falling apart. i couldn’t hide from my demons forever. people were shocked.

    to a lesser extent i still do it. those close to me know that i am ill, but i paint on a face for them. i won’t see anyone when i am at my worst.

    i think many of us do this. it does make you sometimes feel like you’re ill enough or worry that other people will doubt your illness.

    if it helps, i no you’re not faking. you’re just doing what you need to do to get by.

  2. I know what you mean. I don’t tell people until I can figure out how they will react. I just sort of slowly ask questions or tell them things and gage on their reaction as to how they would react. I have been pretty much successful in finding the right people tell maybe got it wrong once or twice. I know it’s hard but maybe you could try testing them like I did to see if they would respond in a positive way and then you wouldn’t have to try and think of somethign to tell them.

  3. I guess this is where your Blog title “Behind the Facade” comes in.

    It doesn’t matter what ‘type’ of person you are, it doesn’t matter if you’re ‘not the sort of person’ who’d be seem like they’re depressed. You are you, and that’s all. You can’t change who you are or pretend to be someone different… Underneath all of it, you are BtF. Beautiful BtF with a heart of pure gold.
    What I’m getting from this is that you just don’t know how to GO about any of it. You aren’t obliged to tell people about what’s going on with you, but if you feel the need to then GO FOR IT. People love you for you, and if they truly mean anything then they won’t be phased in the slightest. They obviously care about you, if they’re asking after you.

    You’re not pretending. You’re just trying to figure yourself out, and that’s okay. The answer will come to you in time, but don’t over-analyse the situation otherwise you’ll never come to anything. Just… Be. Be you, whoever that is, and be okay with that.


  4. chick, i relate to this so much.

    just remember-real friends will always care, always listen, and always beleive.thats what counts.

    i see HTT and they look at me, and are like, well your up, your dressed, you can joke (i always hide behind humour), so thereofre your fine. even when inside my head, while they are sitting there with me, i am thinking of how i cant bear to get through this anymore. it sucks when even professionals cant really SEE.

    i hear you girl

    vics xxx

  5. I’ve experienced this problem so many times. You have to put on an “I’m fine face” otherwise you’d be beseeched with people worrying and fussing or telling you to “pull yourself together”. You can’t win.
    Heck I even had this problem with a psychiatrist. Apparently I couldn’t be mentally ill as I had a full face of well applied make up. If I was mentally ill I wouldn’t be capable of putting on make up… seriously. That guy was weird, not a psych I’d recommend, he gave me some rather interesting and very inaccurate diagnoses.
    I guess as they say, you can’t tell a book by it’s cover, there’s all sorts hidden beneath the mask that we just don’t want people to see or be a part of.


  6. I really think this is something we all do. I think the vast majority of people will avoid talking about their mental health problems until they are fairly sure of how the other person will react, and I find that even with people I know well and who know about my MH problems, I keep up an act to some degree – it is very rare for me to be completely honest about how I am feeling. It happens occasionally, but really not very often. I think to an extent I just get so used to wearing the mask, that it is easier to keep it on than it is to let it down, and I feel vulnerable when people see me very distressed or suicidal or something. However, I do think it is important to have some people who do know, even if you don’t talk to them about it much. If you are struggling it can help to just be able to say something like ‘Sorry, I’m not feeling that great today, so I don’t think I will do X’, rather than have to make up an excuse. I am not saying you need to spill your soul to your friends, but you might find it a bit of a relief if they know that you have Depression, and it may make you feel slightly less pressured – trying to cover something like that up can be tough. If they are real friends then they won’t judge you for it, and there isn’t actually that much stigma surrounding Depression because it is so common – there are some mental illnesses that there is still dreadful stigma around, and that people are very scared of and think of as ‘crazy’ etc, but Depression isn’t one of them (and neither are Eating Disorders come to that). Everyone knows someone who is on anti Depressants, and they would probably just be sympathetic if they knew. It is something to think about anyway. x

  7. Wow. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s so hard to pretend like you’re not depressed, and yet we do it to avoid the stigma that comes with admitting to it. And I completely relate to wanting so badly to tell someone everything, but it’s terribly scary. In the meantime there’s always the blogosphere, right?

    Wishing you well,

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