Its no secret that I battle depression and anxiety: in fact I talk about it openly to combat the stigma of mental health issues. To my closest and dearest, they can often pick up on it, but to those not close, they may have a tougher time sensing it.
And that’s the thing with depression and anxiety, those who suffer from it learn to fake it like everything is fine. To the outside world everything is okay. We laugh, we joke, we post on social media, and do everything else without missing a beat: we act ‘normal’.
Why fake it? Because over time we’ve learned that when we show we’re depressed, anxious, suffering from a mental health problem etc, those who don’t know us well don’t know how to interact or engage with us. Although they may have the best of intentions, in some instances they don’t help the situation, and in others, they make it worse. Some offer unsolicited pep-talks, others give ‘solutions’ you tried ages ago, a few make you a topic of their gossip, and many simply don’t understand the difference between clinical depression/anxiety and just feeling down and nervous about something. And so, although we appreciate the sincerity of most, we fake it just not to deal with it.
Michael Caine once said, “Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.” Although he may not have been referring to how people with mental health struggles live their day to day lives, his quote seems rather appropriate.
Sincerely, Kwapi Vengesayi