Our lives are filled with charades and facades. If you are depressed and don’t want anyone to know, the façade becomes even more ingrained with the self. On the outside, people see you as happy, maybe even without a care in the world while inside you are dying and hurting inside. It takes all the effort you have to make it through the day. At the end of the day, you are more tired than you were when you woke up. The mental exhaustion of a façade cannot be underestimated. This is the face of chronic depression at its worse.
What can really bring one to their knees is the holiday season, a time that is supposed to be filled with love, joy, giving, and happiness. How are you supposed to feel that when you feel like the scum of the earth most of the time? It is very difficult to hold two faces, the face that everyone sees with friends and family, coworkers, etc. and then the face that no one sees when you are alone at night, away from the demands of life. I have struggled for years with this façade and it has taken its toll on me. I think it takes a toll on every one. We cannot allow ourselves to feel down because we have to be the one that is strong for everyone else. It is this internal battle that we face, the “I feel sad and lonely inside but I have to pretend to be happy and feeling connected to others”. That is the struggle that leads to more hurt and pain on the inside. The hope for us is that tomorrow will be a better day, even though there is a part of ourselves that know that it won’t be. We cannot hide the pessimism. It is the real self that always shines through no matter what kind of happy façade we are pretending.
With the holidays, this struggle becomes more intense and the more intense it becomes, the more the disappointment we feel. If we act like a Scrooge, we are treated like a Scrooge and told to lighten up, if we act like Bob Cratchet, hiding the need for help, we end up losing Tiny Tim, which leads to depression of spirits much like the story goes before Scrooge intervenes in the end. Scrooge is one of my favorite all time movies and I think it really captures what it is like to be humble like Crachet and grumpy like Scrooge.
We all don’t always feel miserable all the time but there is a stress in the holidays that always seems unbearable. Psychiatric hospital admissions go up, the requests for detox goes up. Everyone wants to make a new start to the new year. And with that the hope that things will change. That the misery that is felt today will be gone tomorrow. That is the struggle those of us with chronic depression deal with every day and sometimes even those without depression have it as well.