It’s not often that one realizes they’re depressed. Depression is an uninvited guest that doesn’t call in advance of its arrival or knock on your door; it slips right in, unbidden, and stays. So often we’re not even aware of its existence because it so easily disguises itself as these other things.
1. Your Friend.
We are always with our depression, as a companion. We divulge everything to it. It always knows how our day is going; it always knows how we feel about a particular person or a particular situation. We confide our deepest concerns to it; it knows all of our secrets and gossip. It knows everything a best friend would know. So we often listen to it — taking its opinion to heart — because who wouldn’t listen to their closest friend? Our depression knows us better than we know ourselves.
2. Your Doctor.
Doctors tell us what we need to know in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Depression tells you to stay in bed, sometimes all day. Sometimes for a week. It tells you to binge drink, because that will make you feel better, if only temporarily. It tells you to stay home from the gym and take the escalator instead, along with every shortcut possible because “what’s the point?” It thinks diets or cleanses are stupid and gimmicky. It tells you that you are fine and that everyone else needs to mind his or her own business. It urges you to go back to your bad habits, because they make you feel better, and that’s what doctors do, right? Most importantly, it tells you that its not depression — clinically, at least — and that you are not the type of person that gets depressed. It urges you to “ignore the signs.” It convinces you that it knows best and that, if only you’ll listen, you’ll feel better.
3. Your Significant Other.
Depression makes you feel like you need nobody else, even if you have somebody else. It tells you that “you don’t deserve him/her” or that “you can do better”. It gets jealous of the great relationships you do have, and makes you angry, jealous or resentful towards them. It makes you say things you don’t mean, and ultimately it makes itself your #1, even though you didn’t choose it. It ignores all of the love being sent your way. It has a way of making you feel completely lonely, even if someone’s arms are around you. Relationships — the best ones at least — are built on trust; by contrast, depression makes us skeptical of everyone, and so we choose it as our #1.
4. Your Happiness.
Make no mistake: depression can even disguise itself as happiness. Friends and family might say things like, “You’re always so happy” or comment on how much you smile, but it’s only depression tricking you: Sometimes, when alone, you’re so sad that, as soon as you have human contact, your depression will reveal itself as giddiness in fear of being exposed. Depression will turn you to social media. It will Instagram, post, and tweet all these things that make you seem like a happy person. But depression is only lying to everyone. It can’t bear to show the truth so it makes its own truth, in which gratification can be found in the number of “likes” we get.
The problem with depression is it’s not our toxic friend that we cannot help but hang around. Unhealthy in and of itself, depression can force us to make unhealthy choices. It masks our unhappiness by lying to the outside world, but it could never fulfill us like a real companion can.