Depression Can Look Like Anything, And I'm Done Hiding It

by Christie Cronan
Originally Published: 
Christie Cronan

A picture is worth a 1,000 words — is it really? This picture was taken just a few weeks ago. It is full of words — confidence, happiness, hope. But if you look closer, you’d realize that this picture is full of lies. I am sick, really sick.

I’m depressed. There, I said it.

I have been battling depression for a few months, and to be honest, I feel at the end of my “mental” rope. With the holidays here, the painful reminders of this world only seem to focus, hone, and exponentially grow my deep feelings of sadness. I can’t shake it. I am fearfully hitting publish today, exposing my true self to the world. Depression is not what you think it is. It can look completely…normal.

Writing is my therapy. I’ve always been told that I have a way with words, that is when I write them down. But why should I be writing about depression? I have everything going for me. A beautiful and healthy family, a successful small business, blessings abounding. I should be in the prime of my life. And yet I can’t help it. I’m in a downward spiral of depression. Hiding behind the mask of the internet — a blogger, mom, daughter, friend. I am not what I appear to be. What does my depression “look” like? A hot mess of twisted emotions.

A Happy Face

The world of social media can easily portray the life you want to show. I can quickly take a picture that looks like a woman who is happy with herself, her life, and her world. And as soon as the button is clicked, my mood can instantly shift.

I am a liar.

The happy life that’s portrayed on social media? It’s only a small snapshot of what I want the world to see. I don’t post the pictures of me lying in bed in the fetal position, too scared to move. I don’t post the video of me crying for hours. I don’t Boomerang the latest fight I had with my husband, that I instigated. I close the doors on what my “real life” looks like. So I open a small window into what “could be” a normal mom and her busy yet amazing life, because no one wants to see a sad life.

A Shy, Quiet Personality

It’s easy to hide your secrets, your fears, and your overwhelming feeling of sadness behind a facade of a timid personality. I tend to blend into the background. I hate being the center of attention. I struggle with pictures of myself on the internet (ironic, huh?), talking about myself, or even being in a crowded room. Strangers intimidate me. Events give me anxiety. And I always have to pep-talk myself before stepping out in public. But online, I’m full of energy. I have followers — people who look forward to my posts of silly kids and real mom-life moments. It’s a perception of confidence, humor, and a lighthearted look at life that people crave.

I am afraid.

I’ve been hurt this year, so much so that I have closed myself off from the world. A few friendships have ended this year. And at age 30-something, I find it so difficult to make new friends. Maybe it’s because now I’m an adult with too many expectations, too many desires for a friendship that doesn’t have strings attached or a hidden agenda. Maybe I’m just a terrible friend. But at this point, I don’t even have a desire to try. I don’t want the world to get to know me. I don’t want to open my heart and my life to someone new, only to have it crushed yet again. Keep everyone at arm’s length. Give off the impression that things are great. Nod, smile, converse about the weather, and give brief hugs of assurance that I am OK. Then turn around and leave.

A Good Mom

“You’re a good mom.” I have good kids. They’re beautiful, kind, loving and I love being their mom. What you don’t see? How short my temper is with my kids. I’m yelling more, and for no apparent reason. I’m crying often, overwhelmed with my “usual” mom duties. My house is a mess, more than expected. My organized, multitasking, stay-at-home mom self is crumbling under the weight of sports and clubs and dance and carpooling. Depression has a way of seeping into everyday life, making everything a struggle, like showering and brushing my teeth.

I am a failure.

I had a miscarriage this year. I didn’t tell many people, mostly because of how ashamed I felt as a mom — the person who is supposed to love, protect, and cherish their children with all of their heart and might. I let this child down. I failed as a parent. And now, the child that I didn’t even realize I had wanted so desperately is gone. A good mom? I feel nothing but a deep sadness as a mom who will never be what I should have been to this one beautiful child.

A Successful Businesswoman

I’m my own boss. I make my own hours. I’ve built my blog from the ground up. I’m on track for my most profitable year ever. I’ve traveled the country. I’ve met celebrities, world-changers, inspiring people. I’ve been involved with some crazy campaigns, putting my face at the forefront, pushing myself out of my comfort zone, reaching goals and setting higher ones.

I am alone.

I’m so stressed and overworked, yet I find myself burying my head deeper into my blog. I can do more. I can be more. I can find success and happiness and love — if I just push myself harder. I can forget this world and the terrible pains that I feel if I just focus more. I am a workaholic to the core, trying to stay busy so as to push the feeling of loneliness away. But hiding behind a thriving blog only covers the harsh truth: Goals are nothing without people to share them with.

A Beautiful, Healthy, Happy Family

Remember that alone thing? That spills over into family life too. I thrive on hard work, so much so that it’s at the sacrifice of my family. I push them away — turning down snuggles, movie nights, and making family memories in favor of to-do lists. Why pour emotion, communication, and love when I can deal with cold emails, calculated responses, and the hidden mask of the internet? I don’t have to feel. I just have to focus.

I have a broken home.

My husband worries about me all of the time, so much so that his own health is deteriorating. My kids see me cry, too often, and don’t know how to react. I’m yelling one moment, sobbing on the floor the next. A constant war is going on in my head, emotions spiraling out of control. Fearful of what damage I’m doing to the people I love the most, I shut myself out from them, telling myself that it’s safer for them not to be around me. I won’t hurt them that way. I’ve spent so much time away from the people I love that it feels like I’ve forgotten how to just be with them. That portrait of a loving family? I miss it.

A Confident Woman

Head held high. The latest style. Blow dried hair. Makeup on. Don’t forget that selfie smile. Blogger life, yup. I have a confident look for every occasion. No matter what costume I wear, it will never give me enough confidence.

My faith has been shaken.

I am no longer the strong, faithful woman who my friends rely on. I’m seeking God and faith and answers, no longer giving off the impression that I have any of those things. I’m poring over books, fervently praying, and asking God, “Why?” I am anxiously waiting for whatever this next chapter of my life will be. Will there be a happily ever after? I know that I am loved, yet I question the conditions. I know that heaven exists, but I question if I’ll ever be able to get there. I know that Jesus is my Savior, but can He save me from myself? “What is Your plan for me?!” My prayers are so angry, so desperate.

Before You Shake Your Judgmental Fingers at Me…

Let me say this right now. I didn’t write this post hoping for answers. I didn’t write this hoping for your pity. But for those out there this holiday season struggling with the same things I am, I want you to know that you are not alone. Depression is 100% real. It’s a debilitating illness that holds you prisoner, and it seems to be so much more suffocating during the holidays. And while I may have my back up against the wall, I’m also holding your hand. I know that what you’re going through is unbearable at times — the sadness wreaking havoc on your soul. You wonder if you can ever get out, if you can ever be the person you were. But I want you to know that I love you just as you are. We are all broken people. It’s just that today there are more pieces scattered than usual.

The point? Depression can look like anything. We give off the perception that we want the world to see, even if it feels hopeless inside. I don’t have the answers. I know that I need to change but feel paralyzed at times. I know that I need help, but I have trouble asking for it. I know I have demons, but I don’t know how to fight them. I know that I need to be in the world, but I have trouble taking the steps. I’m afraid of what sharing my story will do from this day forward. But I did it. Therapy? Yes. Life-changing? Hopefully. Either way, it’s a step forward.

Please, I beg you all to be more aware of those struggling this holiday season. Depression may be right under your nose, and you don’t even realize it. Listen. Be there. Love.

If you’re depressed today, please know that I am with you. I feel you. I understand you. You are not alone.

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