Friday, November 16, 2018

The Invisible Illness

"Pain is real. But so is hope."
 - Unknown

I really don't want this to become a "mental health" blog - and I know I have been talking about my battle with depression and anxiety a fair bit - but the struggle has been a part of my life for a long time and this is becoming a run-on sentence and sorry if you don't like it - if so there are many other blogs out there for you to enjoy.

So depression and anxiety are considered "invisible" illnesses because you can't see them outright. For example - one can't usually tell if I am feeling depressed or anxious simply by looking at me.

In fact, sometimes I use other aspects of my personality to try to counter act how I'm feeling.

For example, if I am feeling low, I may not come out and tell you - because who wants to hear depressing shit all day? I do have a sense of humour…and sometimes it is my saving grace to be honest.

Making other people smile and laugh is great medicine for my soul - and for my mood - so I try and make others - and hopefully myself - feel better with a funny quip, witty banter or a silly joke.

Now does that paint the picture of someone who is suffering?

No. It doesn't.

I know this all to well because I am very familiar with letting the tears flow in the bathroom or somewhere private.

And it feels very lonely.

To outwardly present oneself as fine when you really are not is sometimes self-preserving and sometimes it hurts like hell.

By self-preserving, I mean that sometimes forcing myself to look like I am fine actually makes me feel somewhat better - and so it goes.

But when you feel like you are crumbling inside…when everyone is laughing and you feel like crying…it's frustrating.

I'm sure people look at me sometimes and say,"How could she be depressed? She is smiling and laughing and having a good time".

Well…often I am. I am not feeling sick all of the time. I am learning to manage my illness and use the tools that work best for me. Being social and laughter are two biggies for me.

But…I'm a decent actress.

I mean...I know how to act the part. I know how to make others feel comfortable so that they don't have to see the real me.

The thing is…when I am feeling like myself - when my anxiety and depression are under control - I am a pretty happy, good-natured, goofy person who loves to laugh. So I'm not always acting.

It's hard when people don't know how you are feeling. Parenting is difficult - I want my illness to touch my three sons as little as possible.

And there are many other invisible illnesses.

All I ask is that people be sensitive to others and know that things are not always as sunny as they look. Sometimes people need support but feel they can't ask for it.

Don't be afraid to ask me how I'm feeling.

And don't forget to laugh at my bad jokes.

Because while my depression and anxiety are difficult, they do not define me - regardless of what I am saying here.

And laughter is my best medicine.

A goof-ball at heart