Why I Don’t Talk About My Depression, and Why Your Friends Don’t Talk About Theirs Either

According to the CDC, one in ten adults suffers from depression right now.

Most of you probably have more than ten people you spend time with, and most of you are probably not aware of one person in your acquaintance who is depressed. Doesn’t that seem odd to you? Well guess what – someone you know is depressed. You just can’t see it.

For those of you who have read some other posts of mine, I may come across as being very open about my depression. I’ve talked about almost every aspect of it, from my experience with medication to my personal medical history and symptoms. If you ask me anything about it, I’ll answer willingly and honestly. But I have a little secret.

It makes me VERY uncomfortable.

Why would you hide being depressed?

Think about it for a second. I’m taking what I feel to be a rather glaring personal flaw and throwing it out in front of everyone who cares to look, and I’m practically putting a spotlight on it. I realize on an intellectual level that it’s NOT a personal flaw any more than my son’s diabetes is a personal flaw. I even explain to other people that it’s not a personal flaw, but it’s a hard thing to drill into my own stubborn head.

Nobody wants to look weak, or fragile, or crazy, and nobody wants to be treated that way. Unfortunately, weak, fragile, and crazy is usually how a depressed person feels, and they’re afraid that’s how other people will see them. So most people who are depressed try as hard as they can to hide it. And a lot of them do a very good job.

How do you hide being depressed?

Back in high school when I started my first depressive episode, I hid it from everyone for about six months. I’m not talking about mild depression here – I’m talking about crying myself to sleep every night, sleeping too much during the day, and wanting to kill myself. My friends seemed to feel it and ease away from spending time with me, since I was obviously no fun to be around, but I don’t think anybody really knew what was going on. Nobody even guessed until I stepped forward to get help. Now, if the subject ever comes up when I’m talking to people, they’re surprised when I tell them I’m on anti-depressants and see a psychiatrist on a regular basis.

It may seem impossible for someone who is depressed to hide what’s going on with them. The symptoms are obvious.

Aren’t they?

Well, it’s easier than you think to explain away some or all of the symptoms of being depressed.

  • I just don’t feel good.
  • I’m tired.
  • I’ve had a really hard day.
  • I don’t feel like going out tonight.
  • I have a lot to do at home; we’ll get together some other time.

Okay, so what does this have to do with me?

A lot, actually. It’s very hard for someone who’s depressed to reach out and ask for help. And it’s damn near impossible for them to help themselves. That leaves you, a friend or family member of someone who’s depressed, to get help for them.

But you can’t help someone if you don’t know anything’s wrong with them. I’m asking you to open your eyes. Keep a closer look on the people around you, and take note of their behavior – especially any behavior that’s out of the ordinary. Then, simply ask the question, “are you depressed?” Not “are you okay?” or “how are you feeling?” Ask “are you depressed?,” because even if the answer is no, they’ll probably give themselves away if it’s a lie.

Most people who are depressed aren’t going to reach out to you for help. So you need to reach out to them instead.

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Pam is a preschool teacher and writer with a background in psychology and child development. She's available for freelance work, private consulting, or just a nice chat. Connect with her on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, or via email at p.komarnicki AT social-discomfort DOT com.

2 Responses to Why I Don’t Talk About My Depression, and Why Your Friends Don’t Talk About Theirs Either

  1. Hi Pam, thank you for being so open and honest about your experience with depression. I suffered in a similar experience in high school. It was hard — and you’re right, a lot of my friends had absolutely no idea what I was going through. I told a few, but they were freaked out and eventually stopped reaching out to me, and started pretending like everything was normal even though it wasn’t. It’s hard — really hard. Anyway, welcome to the Livefyre community, and please feel free to let us know if you have any questions or feedback for us. We’d be happy to help! Looking forward to more posts from you. 

    •  @annedreshfield Thank you for coming by and commenting, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post. It can be hard to find someone who understands depression. I try to be as open as I can be, because I figure the more people talk about it, the more other people have the opportunity to understand it and help people they know who may need some understanding.

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