Have you ever felt the pressure to look and act ‘happy’ ? If you are suffering from any mental illness especially depression then I am absolutely sure you have felt the unfair pressure to look happy when you are terminally sad or maybe even suicidal.
Most people suffering from depression have difficulty maintaining relationships. It’s not that you are anti social, it’s just that you are always overwhelmingly sad and you don’t know how to get out of bed and make an effort to meet people or let alone act normal while you sit and cry. I have rarely met someone who would make space in their lives for someone suffering from a mental illness. Now just to be sure, let me also remind you we do not talk about mental illness in our society. We call such people weird, anti social, introverted etc. People suffering from mental illnesses themselves don’t come out and tell the world they are suffering. And not without reason. If the world finds it difficult to find space for a shy, introvert person, can you imagine how they would treat someone with depression.
I have never understood the pressure to look happy. Sure, I get it..I threaten the fabric of society with my detachment but shouldn’t I have the right to be myself? More importantly am I hurting you if I take a break and sit in a quiet corner and read or lose myself in something that interests me.
I am sad. I am depressed. And no, it’s not about you. It’s not arrogance, it’s not pride or ego. It’s a mental illness. I choose not to socialise because I cannot keep up with my mood swings. I cannot shake off the feeling of desperation, anxiety and a toxic cloud of negativity. Maybe my depression was trigerred by childhood sexual abuse, passing of a parent or a loved one, a chronic illness, failures, self doubt etc. Whatever it was, it’s who I am now.
The thing is, if you see someone comfortable in their loneliness let them be.
There’s no judgement required. There’s no pity required. There’s no rescuing required. Instead, non judgmental understanding works, the ability to let them be and not take their moods personally works too and of course the assurance that you will be there to provide sensitivity and empathy. We go to such lengths to help people with physical illness so why not try to help someone with a mental illness. They are not trying to cause a rift in your happy little world, they just can’t fit in. They know that if they open up to you judgment might follow. If you get to know them better, you might choose to leave them and hence they choose not to socialise.
The saddest part about suffering from depression is that it is difficult to show love and gratitude all the time. Mood swings make it impossible. Suicidal feelings come in the way. Relationships break because of a lack of understanding. We have little to no awareness.
People need to understand that it’s tiring to try and look happy all the time. It’s tiring to pretend to be normal. It’s extremely hard to just get up and go about normal life. Depressed people often suffer from psychosomatic pain. So that weird girl who cancelled might just be experiencing physical pain that causes her to lie motionless in bed.
It’s hard to try and hold on to our loved ones because we are so afraid they might abandon us because of our illnesses.
If you are one of those who think they are trying to ‘rescue’ someone they feel they can change, stop right there. There’s a possibility you will leave at the first sight of the illness. Nothing short of genuine love and affection makes a difference in the life of a person battling a mental illness.