Does this graphic surprise you? Are you shocked that women and moms with depression can look so normal – like the lady who lives next door or the woman you work with?
Or maybe you’re looking at the faces above and thinking, Wow – I had no idea that women like me are cursed with depression. I thought I was the only one.
Either way, if that’s your reaction, I totally get it.
Because when I confide in someone that I deal with depression, this is the response I often get:
“I had no idea you deal with depression. You seem like you have it all together. You seem so … normal.”
People are always so surprised. Because on the outside, I look like a regular, suburban, 30-something mom. I generally look put together. In a decent mood. You know … normal.
When I’m depressed, I don’t look sad, angry, anxious. Like I feel like I’m falling apart. Like I’m ready to scream at my kids for every little thing they do. Like I’m worrying I will blurt something that will make their little faces crumple in sadness or worse – fear.
I also don’t look dirty, frantic, or bizarre. I don’t act erratic or crazy. I look and act like me. Just maybe a little quieter, a little sadder, a little less of myself.
When I am struggling with depression, I look normal on the outside. Because I AM normal. I just have depression, too.
If there is one thing I want people to understand about depression, it’s this: Depression often – usually – looks “normal.” Because “normal” people struggle with depression.
Some people will bristle at a comparison I am about to make – and honestly, I’m not sure why – but I think my depression isn’t different from many other chronic diseases. I have friends, acquaintances, and relatives who deal with lupus, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s, and other awful diseases that flare up and seemingly go away – just as my depression does.
I am not always depressed, nor do I always have to be on medication. My depression comes and goes. When it’s here, I take meds for it. When it’s gone, I don’t.
And yes, I know that many, many people have constant depression and have to take meds and go to therapy all the time. And you know what? I think their depression isn’t any different from any other disease that needs to be constantly monitored and cared for and medicated so the person who has the disease can feel normal.
(There’s that word again.)
It bothers me that there is such a stigma about depression. I can understand it – anything that messes with our brains is scary – but it still makes me mad that I’m afraid to talk about it much. But I’m writing about it, at least. And I’m glad that I am.
Because if I can help some moms feel less alone, and if I can help some other people understand that regular, everyday people deal with depression – well, that makes me so happy.
If you have a friend or family member who confides in you that they struggle with depression and take medication, just remember: They’re just as normal as your friend with diabetes or your cousin with lupus. And they’re still the person you know and love.
Are you hesitant to tell close friends and relatives about your depression? Is it difficult to explain that having depression doesn’t make you “crazy”?
Note: This is a revised, previously-published post, so that’s why some comments are from a while ago. 🙂
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