It looks like your bravest smile. The one you have to push your face into so that your lips curve up at the top and they part enough to reveal the white of your teeth at the same time you force your eyes to light up. You pass the smile off as nervous, or eager, or excited, or just normal.
It’s you sitting there, wearing that smile. Not saying anything. Nodding vaguely at the conversation, that’s turned to last week’s brunch, or the upcoming meeting about the Q2 numbers, or other minutia you could care less about. You’re not retaining information.
It’s you looking overly put together. So much so that people are actually calling you composed at the office, because you are over compensating and trying so hard to look put together that it actually works. You’ll call this a success when you’re trying desperately to push the pain from your head, the pit of your stomach, the four walls around you.
It looks like you breathing deeply – in through your nose, out through your mouth – as quietly as possible, so no one around you hears the hurt you’re trying to contain. You don’t know where the feeling of depression came from. You don’t know why it’s showing up now. You don’t what the person across from you is saying. You just know you need to get out before you faint, or vomit, or cry or scream.
Running from your depression sounds like your shaky laugh, as you brush off the fact that you suddenly can’t be sitting next to the people around you. You will excuse yourself and keep your head up just long enough so that when you disappear into the bathroom, into the car, around the corner, wherever you can, no one notices anything’s wrong at all.
It’s not until you’re alone and the doors are closed and locked that you will ever acknowledge anything’s wrong. And even then, you will only crumble for a few seconds. You will sit, breathing against the wall wondering why you feel detached from everything going on around you. Wondering why you suddenly feel hopeless and empty.
You want to cry but your reflexes are trained not to let you. You aren’t depressed. You don’t have depression. You don’t sink like you used to.
Eventually, you’ll release your limbs from the ball you’ve curled into, push yourself to standing and face yourself in the mirror. You will stare at your reflection, willing yourself to feel something. Anything. Willing yourself to feel happiness behind the laughter when it comes out of your mouth or willing yourself to appreciate someone’s touch when they hold you.
A lump will form in your throat but your eyes won’t well up, even when you expect them to. So you will add another layer of mascara hoping it’ll make your eyes look a little brighter.
You will try desperately to redirect your mind, and reach for anything positive, because the alternative is to acknowledge the negative and let the feeling envelop you until you crumble.
Running from depression is feeling alone and subdued, while surrounded by people you love. It’s smiling without feeling happy, and feeling detached after hearing bad news, because you don’t have any energy left to feel sad. It’s telling yourself you love someone when in reality, their touch feels foreign to you, and you’d rather not have their hand on your leg at all.
It looks like you pushing yours ear buds in and turning the music up louder, and putting on Friends in the background because as long as there’s white noise stuffed in your ears, there’s no room for your thoughts.
It all looks perfectly normal. So the problem goes completely unnoticed. Sometimes when your depression comes back, you’re already too good at hiding it to let people know.