You see my smile, but do you see the pain behind it.
You hear my laugh, but how could you know what that laugh is hiding.
My smile is simply a mask, one I’ve perfected long ago to hide the suffering, the sadness.
Right before I smiled at you, I hid in the bathroom clutching a bottle of pills.
Moments before you heard me laugh. I sobbed out my despair in a darkened room.
Tonight you saw me dance and joke.
You called me lively
You didn’t know, you couldn’t of known.
That I was dying inside, drowning in water that was suddenly too rough for me to swim in.
You saw only a mask, the one I allowed you to see.
The real me was darker, crying out for help that was muted by the monster of depression.
The real me was praying for help, yet it was a prayer left unspoken.
I wrote those words weeks ago as I battled the darkest depression I’ve ever faced. My family all well-meaning said I would never do anything to end my life, I had too much to live for, yet they couldn’t see the demon that was depression. the darkness that ensured no light could enter. I cried when Anthony Bourdain died, not because I knew him, but because I understood his struggle. I understood it wasn’t a choice. He didn’t make some selfish decision to leave this world, his child, his life behind. That night in the hotel room the depression was simply too powerful, the darkness too great that he could no longer tread water. We all in moments like this ask those struggling to reach out, yet the truth is depression is like a mute button. We don’t feel as though we can be understood, that we won’t be judged. I have a great life, a wonderful support system, and still it has at times had its claws so deep in me that I couldn’t see a way out. I don’t see suicide as a choice, I don’t see it as a selfish act. I see it as a moment, a moment where the darkness is too great to believe the light could ever shine again. I see it as a person alone, and in his head believing he will also be that way. I see it as the worst torture, and one decision, one moment ends that for you.
What we need is more discussion about mental health, not just when someone famous commits suicide but always. We need to end the stigma around being depressed, around having those thoughts. We need to realize that life is hard, and for some of us, it’s harder for us to find the light. It doesn’t make us selfish, or weak. We are not damaged, we are simply fighting to live happily. And for those of you fighting this battle today, do what you need to do to be happy. If that means medication, take it and don’t let anyone shame you into going off. If that means yoga, be on that mat every day. Talk to someone, your friends, your family. Let that mask slip off for a little while, let them see you, the real you. It’s okay to say I’m struggling, it’s okay to ask for help. The world needs you, you are the only you this universe has, so don’t let the darkness overtake you. In the wise words of Albus Dumbledore “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”