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Can People Tell You're Depressed?


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So I've been severely depressed off and on since I was 12 years old and those who paid attention easily noticed. Basically every teacher I ever had, for instance. But because I was always joking with my friends and absolutely forcing myself to socialize, nobody close to me ever really knew (except my parents).

Anyway, my therapist has worked with lots of depressed people and basically said that most of them can't converse, can't hold their energy up enough to say something, even. Well even in absolute darkest times, I could always do so, usually without too much problem. I don't know. I'm just very... vocal. ;)

I also mentioned to him that I've heard countless stories of people who killed themselves and the families and friends saying "WTF. They were always so happy and positive" which is true. Some people just don't show it, in my opinion.

So my question is, for those who are prone to depression-- could you (usually) remain incognito about everything? Or were you always expressionless and easily pegged as "depressed."

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One of the first things my therapist remarked about me is that I don't seem to have any difficulty at all expressing myself and was very easy to talk to. I make my living as a teacher so that didn't surprise me at all. I'm usually very good at putting my "best face" on and putting people at ease right away. I'm not really making a conscious effort to be like that, though. It's almost as if there are two of me. The one who is cheerful and helpful and confident, and the one who contemplates suicide regularly and has no self-confidence whatsoever. Maybe this is because I'm very concerned (more like obsessed) with not being seen as selfish in any way and I know that committing suicide is the ultimate selfish act. I have very little self-esteem as well, so feel like I do what I have to do and what I need to do, because other people are counting on me and what I personally want or need doesn't really matter.

In answer to your question, yes, I've always felt that my feelings, my happiness, my needs, wants, and basically myself in general don't really matter. It would therefore be selfish to impose any of my problems on anyone, and to be dull and unpleasant around anyone. Not only selfish, to do so might alienate me, because who wants to be around someone who is depressed? Certainly not my mother. When I was a little girl and I would get upset and cry (which was often) she would not offer me any comfort but would yell at me to "stop crying!!" Of course this invariably had the opposite effect and made me even more upset. After a while, I convinced myself that she simply didn't care that I was upset. It could be that she just didn't know how to help me, but her dismissal of my feelings only made my self-esteem problem worse. It taught me that myself and my feelings weren't important enough for any consideration whatsoever.

So I learned to not indulge in my feelings of hopelessness and despair out of respect and consideration for other people.

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I've also learnt that people are uncomfortable with seeing the true faces of mental illness. When I've cried out for help because I knew it was only a matter of time before I ended up dead, people I thought could deal with all the raw, ugly stuff, still couldn't deal with that.

So I've learnt to hide behind different masks for different people, some close friends I can let the mask slip a little, but no-one sees me without one on anymore.

I think it's really sad that it has to be like that, I wish it didn't, but people just can't cope.

On the other hand, when I'm at my worst in depression & Really suicidal I can't go and talk to people I don't know. I can't function in society. I become inarticulate, mumble, forget what I'm saying, angry because I'm frustrated at myself, I have panic attacks even attempting leaving the front door. But you can make excuse to people about that, like you have a physical illness, etc, so they don't always know your going through depression. A lot of people just think I'm really busy and bad at returning calls, I guess people think I'm rude too.

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My immediate family can tell when I'm sliding downward... out in public, I try to hold up, but everyone asks me how I am, and if I'm sick. I get deathly pale when depressed, even paler than I am now. And yeah, I just say I have a cold/flu, something like that. Anything to get them away from me.

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I'm bipolar II, so I generally am on the upswing of things, but I'm going through a skull crushing depression and there is no way I can function normally in the outside world. I can't even drive a car. I'm a totally emotionally dead "thing" right now who is cruising through the next few days until I can see my Dr. I can't imagine putting on a happy face during this time. I'm so sorry for those who have to fight so hard to work through a depression and pretend to be something that you aren't when you're depressed. It shouldn't have to be that way, should it? It's not freaking fair, I say. I'm a stay at home mom so I have to be "happy" for my children, yes, but not for the public. I can't imagine that right now. Bless those of you who somehow manage that. I don't think I could do it.

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People who know that I have bipolar and who talk to me about how im feeling will notice.

People who don't know i have bipolar wouldnt have a clue. one friend commented recently that i hide it really well and that if i was a stranger off the street she would never know. ;)

My mum doesnt notice though. I guess she gets it after a while.

I hate other people knowing that i have weaknesses. obviously we all do, but this is a big one for me. I keep it all a secret and people think im confident and determined and motivated and happy. I'm just really good at pretending. Sometimes if you pretend enough you create yourself a character and its like playing another person in a movie. Its exhausting. When i start falling apart, people ask me why i'm so tired, if i'm hungover, if i'm sick (again).

ahh i hate being depressed.

edit: i hate the fact that doctors (one of mine in particular) seem to think that if you are still managing to function well - you must not be that depressed. Are there not multiple ways to suffer from this? I would think that severe depression would show itself in different ways? I feel sometimes like my feelings/moods arent really validated when they say I can still do all the 'normal' things - does this mean i'm fine if i can get up (just), take a shower and go to class?

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I totally wear my moods. I can still function sometimes and seem to be able to get work things done, but people see when I'm depressed or hypomanic/manic. However, a lot of work people like the hypomanic me because I am a powerhouse at work then. Other people who know how my moods go and care more about me than my job will tell me I need to calm down & take care of myself. Often, when I'm really depressed and can't put on a face at all, I stay home and don't see anyone.

Oreo

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I also mentioned to him that I've heard countless stories of people who killed themselves and the families and friends saying "WTF. They were always so happy and positive" which is true. Some people just don't show it, in my opinion.

It's funny, my dad has figured out that when I seem happy and really upbeat, it's actually me doing my damnedest to put on a happy face although I am miserable. I thought that was impressive that he figured that out, I hadn't really figured that out. I guess I'm not that aware of what image I am projecting.

Usually people are pretty attuned when I don't try to hide it. I've had MANY strangers come up to me and tell me to smile, that things aren't that bad. F them I say. When I am depressed I also isolate so friends and family know that if I don't return calls that I'm not doing very well. I almost get scared of leaving the house for fear something is going to happen to me or I'm going to "accidentally" drive off a cliff. House = safe. Except for those pesky knives, which I try not to think of if I'm suicidal.

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Anyway, my therapist has worked with lots of depressed people and basically said that most of them can't converse, can't hold their energy up enough to say something, even. Well even in absolute darkest times, I could always do so, usually without too much problem. I don't know. I'm just very... vocal. ;)

ugh... i am sorry you got told that. i got told that by my last tdoc (not my current one) when i told her i was backsliding really really badly and i needed help. it was one of the stupidest and most dangerous things anyone ever said to me in therapy, i think. to illustrate how ignorant she really was, she also congratulated me when i stopped all my meds cold turkey (one of them being effexor - sent me right to the ER out of my freaking mind in a week is what that decision did). experienced or no, she obviously understood neither the complexities of depression nor the mechanisms of medication.

to me it doesn't sound like your tdoc does either.

i can come here and post and sound just like this - normal (or at least i think i do), when i'm trying really hard. i do it even better in person - i actually have to make an effort to STOP with the fake smiling and cheery voice - it's on autopilot for me. that is if i'm faced with another human being. if i'm alone and no one can see/hear me, i'm fucking falling apart on the outside to match what's on the inside.

i grew up in a house where there was NO tolerance for any kind of emotional displays, especially negative ones. the consequences of doing so were worse than how i felt to begin with. so of course i was trained really really well - don't ever show anyone anything. i think i am SOOO not alone here on that one - i think a lot of us depressed folks were taught to "act" as children and we can't drop the act once we're adults. especially when you have kids - you need that act every minute of every day, it seems. and also at work, for those who have to face coworkers and clients every day.

it is such a useful skill - i've been able to hide incredible amounts of teh crazy from my daughter because of it.

but it is counterproductive when i'm trying to explain to someone that i still feel THAT BAD, even though i can't take the face off, i just can't... i'm either too scared, or sometimes i don't even know how (because i am too nuts).

this is such a great topic to bring up, i'm glad you did. i have a tdoc now who understands that people do not need to be catatonic to be called depressed (my last one literally said that too - that nobody needs meds unless they're unresponsive and catatonic. imagine!). and so many of us don't know that it isn't true, that we really are ill and it doesn't always look that way. it stops a lot of us from reaching out that second time i think. so i'm really glad you came and talked about it.

i really wish i had read stuff like this when i was first diagnosed and being told all kinds of things about what i was "supposed" to present as, if i really was "sick" - i really thought i wasn't depressed because i could pretend. until i ended up in the looney ward.

i hope you can get your tdoc to acknowledge how you feel, somehow. but know you aren't the only one, and it doesn't make you any "less depressed" because you can do it.

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I have been known to spend weeks in bed and pull myself together, put on makeup and a happy face when my family is around. I hide it well, while inside I am feeling like shit. I don't think that I have my depression totally under control right now, but at least I am not in bed.

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I try like hell to make a good impression. In public it's hard to tell. My family seems to know but I have a tendency to say things that are out of character for me. As far as my daughter goes I fight back my feelings very hard. The problem is that my mask is starting to crack.

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My only neighbor ,

next door (1/2 of a small duplex,set way back from the street)

will come and pound my door

until I drag out,

after I haven't left the house in 4-5 days.

Her and I seem to run the same

kind of cycle,except she

forces herself out to tend

her flowers and she has lots.

I burrow into my depressions,

to get the most mileage out of them.

I'll read for 12hours a stretch

So I do get out for library trips

and mail and pills,

and down the hill to the ocean,

poor me,forced to go to the beach

in a funk.

HMMM,where was I?

Oh,yeah,I do respond to my Earth Mama

she is persistent and she knows

I'm not eating or playing music

at a neighborly threshold.

Hence the doorway earthquake.

this all probably makes no sense,

I get a free one once in a while??(don't go there!)

Stasis

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I make my living as a teacher so that didn't surprise me at all. I'm usually very good at putting my "best face" on and putting people at ease right away. I'm not really making a conscious effort to be like that, though. It's almost as if there are two of me. The one who is cheerful and helpful and confident, and the one who contemplates suicide regularly and has no self-confidence whatsoever.

That's exactly me too.

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I was discussing a recent bad depressive bout with my therapist [i hadn't seen her in a while] and telling her that I was really unmotivated and it was hard to go to work and such.

She said pointedly "But you DID go to work, right?". As though it couldn't be that bad. If you can drag your ass out of bed, you must be farting sunshine and rainbows, right?

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After my first son was born I went into serious post partum depression. I went to my general doc and he said I couldn't be depressed because he didn't get "an icky feeling from me". I shit you not. That is what he said. So I received no help. I still look back on that and shudder. What a fucktard. ;)

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but it is counterproductive when i'm trying to explain to someone that i still feel THAT BAD, even though i can't take the face off, i just can't... i'm either too scared, or sometimes i don't even know how (because i am too nuts).

i have that problem too lysergia. lucky my pdoc figured out i was doing that and convinced me it was ok to show him that i was feeling like a disaster.

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