You see them all around you, every day.
The cashier with the dark humor and the rings under her eyes, the cable repairman with a forced smile and semi-friendly demeanor. The telephone repairman, the customer service representative, your friends, your family.
It takes a certain type of genius to hide your depression.
Some people use humor, like a shield to deflect away arrows of conversation that might reveal the soft underbelly of vulnerability and self-doubt. Jokes themselves can be flung like arrows as well, drawing attention away from us and toward whoever we’re joking with. Self-deprication and bleak whimsy made into a suit of armor that very few people can see through.
Other people use false sincerity. A huge smile all the time, effusive praise of everyone and everything around them… it can be tricky to tell which people in the world actually feel that way, and which ones are just pretending so you’ll look away. That, too, takes a level of self-awareness and creativity that one could easily call genius.
Hiding is hard, but it isn’t nearly as hard as being noticed, judged, found wanting or weak or just…. broken. It’s not nearly as hard as asking for help and becoming a burden.
It’s not as hard as watching the people closest to you get sick of you, and then hate you, and then avoid you. Because you can’t help it, and neither can they. There’s only so much emotion in a person, and trying to help someone that’s struggling with their mental health is exhausting and usually unrewarding.
So you hide. It’s hard. It takes genius.
What takes guts is getting help, and we often have to borrow those guts from someone else. A nagging wife, a concerned teacher, a knowing mother. However isolated we may feel from all the effort of hiding what’s happening inside of us, very few people in this world are unreachable. Identify that you have something going awry, and take one of the hands stretched out to you, as there are probably several.
It’ll be easier to see them, maybe, if you take off the mask. Like I’m trying to.