appearances can be deceptive

I catch that look in their eyes. The disbelief as they register what I have said to them. I know to look for it.

I have seen it many times before.

You see I hide it well. The face I present to the world is not always how I feel. It rarely is. The bone aching tiredness, bleakness and emotions that live within me are not easy to share. It is easier to hide them away. To pretend that everything is okay. That my world is not falling apart around me. That I can’t breathe sometimes because of what the anxiety is doing to me.

That sometimes the depression overwhelms and sometimes it empties me of everything.

This is not something I do because I want it to appear like I have an awesome life. I fill up my Instagram and Facebook feed with happy things because it is easier. Because I don’t want to make people worry, feel awkward, walk away from me. Because I find it difficult to talk, to share.

And because sometimes I need reminding that I do have good things in my life.

From the outside I can see how it must look like I am okay, that I am happy with life. After all I get up every day. I shower, I brush my teeth. I talk to people and I go out. I laugh, I smile.

You don’t see me when I’m alone.

You don’t see is the effort it costs me. How I have to build myself up to do it all. How I have a social ‘hangover’ from spending time with people. How it drains me. The pretence of enjoyment when all I want is a quiet corner to myself. How I hide away in toilets sometimes steeling myself to rejoin the people outside. The physical need to be alone.

I still function.

Some days though that is all I can do. And it takes everything I have. Sometimes simply functioning exhausts me. Sometimes I can only do it because I feel I have to. Because not doing it is sometimes so inviting it scares me. Because I don’t want people to worry.

So yes I understand why I see that look in people’s eyes when I tell them I have anxiety and depression. I understand why people find it strange when I tell them I am struggling. I understand how I act around others makes it difficult to see. I can’t blame people for not seeing it when I do such a good job at acting like everything is okay.

High functioning anxiety and depression is cruel. No one can see what is going on. Unless you tell them. So if someone does tell you that they are struggling, try to control that reaction. You have no idea how much it has cost them to say that to you.

And don’t then slip back to believing them when they take up the role again that everything is okay.

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  1. KathrinS

    This sounds like a nightmare! I once dated someone with depression for a short while, and he told me about it after we broke up (for different reasons). He was so surprised I still wanted to be friends with him – but I didn’t see why I wouldn’t, I mean he was still the same person.
    I don’t have depression – but it’s interesting because I think a lot of people experience these feelings to a certain degree. For example, I’m more introverted, and at social gatherings I love to go to the bathroom and take a few minutes to calm down and center myself. And we all put on a mask to a certain degree. It’s hard to let people in and to tell them how we truly feel, for sure!!!

    1. Joanna Maguire

      Nightmare is a good word for it! Sometimes I deal with it okay, other times it is harder. I agree with you, I think we all wear a mask in some shape or form, I wonder how much better things would be if people were more honest with each other.
      Introverts & hanging out in bathrooms certainly does seem common – perhaps we should set up a group haha.
      I love what you say about your ex still being the same person, I have seen the opposite reaction too many times so I really do like those words.

      1. KathrinS

        Haha – but if we set up a group we wouldn’t be alone in the bathroom anymore! Which really is the whole point … But it would be nice to share experiences.
        That’s so sad. I get that some people have a narrow definition of the kinds of people they want to be friends with, but I don’t understand it. We grow so much more from people who are different to us. Sad, happy, male female, old, young, different nationalities, college educated or not … Isn’t it interesting to have a mix of everything in your group of friends?

        1. Joanna Maguire

          Hmmm…true…you have a point there. Maybe we could have a no bathroom interaction rule?
          I agree it is sad how some people avoid certain types of people and 100% agree that the mix of friendships is what makes life interesting. One of the things I enjoy about blogging and Instagram is all the different types of people I come into contact with who I would probably never encounter in my ‘real’ normal life.

          1. KathrinS

            Yes that’s true about blogging – I’ve had views from many different countries, where I’ve never even been!!

            1. Joanna Maguire

              Me too!
              Managed to unfollow your blog by accident just now, made sure to follow again straight away as I am loving your experiences.

              1. KathrinS

                Thanks! I like your posts, too!

  2. Sim Carroll

    That’s me to a tee!!! ….and I love the words of the first Lady who commented

    1. Joanna Maguire

      I’m starting to discover there are a fair few of us out there Simone.
      Kathrin does indeed say some lovely things x

  3. updownflight

    I was talking about almost exactly this topic with my sister yesterday.

    I hide so much from most people except my husband. When people see me I look just fine. Even my sister yesterday kept telling me I seem just fine even though I’ve been having emergency appointments with my psychiatrist for mania.

    My moods are fluctuating a lot since my medications have been increased. Some moments I can’t even explain how I feel, but I know sometimes I feel unwell. Writing posts has been difficult for me. I can only really write comments like this with any ease.

    On a similar, yet slightly different topic, I once wrote a post about “Feigning wellness”. Sometimes I even fool myself into thinking I’m fine when I’m really not. I sometimes do this because I so much want to be fine. That really makes mood charting unreliable.

    1. Joanna Maguire

      I’m not sure what is more difficult sometimes – the hiding or being truthful. Both are so exhausting.
      I did wonder if things were going a little tough for you at the moment, kinda felt an undercurrent of it in what you were writing. I hope that you are getting the help you need and you are able to be honest with those you need to help you. I think I have said before but I shall say again – a friendly ear is always here for you x

  4. Bia

    This is very confusing for me, because I always struggle between choosing to hide or to say the truth. It still makes me very frustrated when someone asks if everything is ok and I answer that I’m just sleepy. And then get angry when they just assume that yeah, I must be sleepy, even though they have no way to know how I’m really feeling if I don’t tell them. Hahahaha It’s hard.
    But I do think it’s a matter of practice
    And that we always should share these things with close friends/family, the ones who really matter (even if it is really hard)

    Hope you are feeling ok!

    1. Joanna Maguire

      I do exactly the same! Tell people I am okay (and get annoyed with myself for saying that) and then get bothered that they haven’t realised it is all a pretence. Hard is strong enough a word I think!
      I think I have spent so much of my life listening to everyone else’s problems and being there for them that I have forgotten how to ask or tell people when I need help. I definitely need to practice!
      I am coping okay at the moment – thank you so much for asking!

  5. Brendan

    Appearances can be deceptive.

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