When suffering with severe clinical depression throughout my youth I became accustomed to hiding my feelings, my sadness and ultimately myself from the world. I built up a façade to protect myself from being hurt anymore, and at the time, I had no idea that I was not doing myself any favours by reacting this way.
The facade (or face) that I hid behind was one which to any onlooker made me look as though I was actually high on life. Anyone trying to understand me would have presumed I was a normal everyday person. I laughed, I smiled, I joked and I generally made it appear that I was OK. Fact was this was far from the reality of the situation.
If I sat and questioned now, as a recovered patient why I did this I would honestly answer that my reason for doing so was because it was the only way I knew how to survive. Pretending everything was OK in my family was something that I was expected to do by my parents. In turn, this promoted other detrimental behavioural issues, my façade being one of them.
As humans, we naturally have a built in mechanism whereby our response is that of one where we respond with flight or fight. My mechanism for coping was one which meant I was on edge constantly, waiting for someone to pounce; in turn this made me defensive and aggressive, especially towards anyone who may have criticised me and this was because I didn’t want them to tell me something I didn’t know about myself.
I didn’t want anyone guessing what was wrong, telling me what was wrong or acting superior in knowledge towards me. I figured only I knew me therefore I knew best and as such I would deal with my issues in my own time and my own way. All the time adding layers to the façade I was hiding behind.
Eventually, when I went thought counselling and therapy and then hospitalisation and I was faced with the question, who am I? I wasn’t able to answer it. I had built up a pretend person and was living a pretend life in pretend circumstances with pretend outcomes.
Finding out who I really was became a massive part of the healing process that I underwent to become depression free. As such, I would suggest to anyone suffering with depression – patient to patient, stop with the façade, it is OK to get help, advice and support, you do not have to pretend to be OK if you really are not, there are people who understand and who are there to help. Without these people, I know I wouldn’t be who I am today.