A coworker recently asked me how I can be depressed. I was told that I’m a good looking guy that’s funny and I seem to enjoy what I’m doing. Well, that’s just the thing, isn’t it? What’s on the surface may not be what’s inside. A lot of people with depression issues hide them. Sometimes they hide them intentionally, sometimes it’s just a need, and sometimes it’s due to feelings of shame, which I’ve discussed before.
I’ve also realized that I’ve been guilty of thinking that way at times. Even with my depression and my awareness of it, I still fall into that trap. A few months back when a friend sent me a text about some of her issues, my first thought was “but she’s so pretty and so much fun, how can she be depressed?” I was actually pretty annoyed with myself for that, but it’s how we’ve been conditioned to think about it. Not everyone with depression is the dark, brooding, pale skinned, gothic looking person that is the stereotypical model of depression. Did Robin Williams seem like that to you?
This past November, Wayne Brady spoke about his battles with depression. Again, on the surface (and on television) he comes off a funny, happy, full of life person, but inside he’s suffering. He stated:
“Having a bad day is one thing, having a bad week is another, having a bad life … You don’t want to move, you can’t move in the darkness. You’re like, ‘I am just going to sit right here and I want to wallow in this. As much as it hurts, I am going to sit right here because this is what I deserve. This is what I deserve, so I am going to sit here because I am that horrible of a person.’”
He said he DESERVES to suffer. How can anyone believe that about themselves? Wayne Brady is a television star. He has money and fame, yet he feels he deserves to suffer. He feels that he’s a horrible person. How can that be? How does that make sense? It makes perfect sense to me, because I feel the same way at times. I feel that I NEED to suffer. I feel that I AM SUPPOSED to suffer.
You would not know any of this about Wayne Brady if you watched him hosting Let’s Make a Deal or appearing on Whose Line is it Anyway? He always appears full of life and he’s so much fun, right? The friend that texted me appeared that way to me too. Apparently, I appear that way to some coworkers. Robin Williams appeared that way on stage. But we all share a pain that really can’t be understood by someone that doesn’t go through it as well. I can tell you that I feel empty inside. And maybe you can relate to a time when you lost something you felt strongly about. Maybe you can relate to the time you didn’t win a game. That feeling wasn’t good. I feel that way MOST of the time, except worse.
It’s because of my awareness that not only do I try not to be judgmental about people’s issues, but I know I can’t be. The last thing that someone that is suffering and feels they need to be suffering wants to hear is someone being critical or dismissive of their problems. That is why I’ve been known to reach out to friends if I see something they’ve posted online that seems like something that may be going through. That is why I am so quick to offer help to them and let them know that I’m always willing to listen to them if they need to talk. I also know it’s very possible they may never take me up on that offer, because I know how difficult it can be to talk about these things at times, especially if you’re trying to keep up the appearance of someone that has it together. But regardless, I want them to know that SOMEBODY cares. Sometimes when I reach out I’ll simply let them know they’re not alone. Sometimes I’ll try to find an appropriate joke to go with the situation. But more than anything, I try to be as understanding as possible. That may mean that I don’t say anything, I just listen, and by doing that I’m being more helpful that a lot of other people would be.
This is such an important post. As someone who also suffers from depression I also hear how people can’t believe it when I say I have it. I have many positive qualities and usually (in the past) mask the depression for the same reason. It’s looked down on in society and there’s a stigma attached. Recently I’ve decided to be more open with it in the same sense you have, to let people know they are not alone. And this is so so so so important. The part about deserving the suffering too relates too easily. And I think many people with depression would agree. You can’t even explain it. The depression just literally makes you think your an awful person, no matter what you’re doing. You’re a great writer, and I love this post. Keep doing what your doing man. You are loved.
I run a blog about mental illness called “Dear Hope”, join the community here: wemustbebroken.wordpress.com