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*%$!&#@# Happy Face


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How hard to do you struggle to put on a "happy face" with mid-level depression? or whatever MI you're struggling with? (bipolar, unipolar, etc)

I'm still having rollercoaster rides at times. Last week I had a really rotten, feel-like-dogshit, wanna die day. No, not as bad as depression *can* get, but just felt like shit. It definitely showed. Had to take my child to school, and I get the questions "are you sick?", "Oh, do you have the flu, are you alright?".  ;)   No, I'm really NOT alright, leave me the fuck alone!!! But you can't scream that inside a school full of children so I had to muster every last ounce of energy and smile and pretend it's all okay. "Just tired." I HATE having attention drawn to how I must look when I feel like that.

So, how much do you swallow on days like that so you can stay under the radar (as another member so correctly worded it) ?

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I tend to have my happy face on pretty much always when out in public, or at least when I'm interacting with someone.  (Unless they're an asshole, then I have my Asshole face on...)

I even keep the fave on with my pdoc.

Hell, a lot of the time, I keep it on when I'm onhere.

Weakness is not allowed.  Unless something truly horrid has just happened.

So, I smile, say all pleasantries expected, and keep on truckin'.

Can't wait till it all breaks/blows up!  (He says with a smile)

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Nosey Person: "are you sick?" or "Oh, do you have the flu, are you alright?" or "You look tired, are you ok?"

Me:  "I'm sorry I was up late last night finalizing plans to destroy YOUR side of the planet.  How is that PTA fundraiser going?"

Sorry, I have little patience for nosey muthafuckas.

I suck at lying and I tend to make people uncomfortable anyway, so I don't know

if I qualify as good test subject.  If you ask, I'll answer.

Maddybot - answering as a member

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Primarily I first try to just be civil and polite to people. Before I engage someone I will take a deep breath, try to clear my mind of emotions and other thoughts and at least straighten my mouth.

I can't really put on a false happy face for more than about 15 seconds.  It slides off onto the floor.

If I'm not depressed I can put on a smile and probably maintain that.    I like to worry a lot, but I discovered years ago, that if nothing is really wrong and I smile, even when sitting by myself, I can feel better. I have to remind myself to be happy.

A.M.

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Hey Rabbit

Diversion is a tactic that I sometimes use. When someone inquires about your appearance or how you are, answer them with a generic "fine" and immediately ask them how they are. Most people love to talk about themselves. Even if you don't give a rat's ass what they're saying back to you, just let 'em talk and then gracefully make your exit.

It's really difficult, I know. I really have to fight my honesty during those times, and I am usually extremely blunt. It's better in the long run if you fake it. I have to put my mask on every day at work. I fucking hate it. But this is my income for now, and my family needs me to contribute.

Men are usually less chatty, and I find it is easier to deal with them. For instance, a man asks anther man, "How are you?" and the other man says, "Good...you?" and the first man says "good." I find they do it even when neither IS doing good.

I really hate it when someone says "you look tired." I hate open-ended questions or statements. I personally think it's rude for someone to say that, unless it's a close friend or family member who means well. My boss is an expert at changing the subject (another diversion tactic).

Hope this helps.

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CNS: Really, even with your pdoc? Ummm, why? Just curious. But not sure I trust your smile. Backing away slowly......

Maddy: LMAO. I can just picture how these mamas would react. Or lack of reaction. Too damned funny, either way.

Ruby: Ugh. That requires *talking*.

AM: *sigh* You're too happy. Go away.

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I don't usually even try to lie.  A short, "I am tired.  Thanks for noticing" and a half-smile will usually shut people up.

I TRY to remember that most people are just trying to help.  The nosy ones need a more direct answer like, "Having a bad day, I just need to be away from people for awhile, ya know?"  almost always shuts them up.  If around gossipy mothers, throw in the half-smile, and then they feel like you're "relating" to them.

If you're really feeling shitty and just don't give a fuck say what I say, "I feel like shit today.  Get away from me or I'll start sobbing or eat your child."  Then smile because you mean it.

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I usually go with the flu ruse. Just tell people I'm not feeling that well.

When I'm mildly depressed I usually feel fluey anyways. Actually, I usually go through a state of denial, telling myself I must be coming down with something - I find the thought of dealing with a virus easier than with the possibility that I might be getting depressed. But that's about me and not other people. I also find its easier to take the flu sympathy than what I might get if I told them my body is virus free but I feel like hell anyway.

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I'm not sure if your male or female, so this might not be helpful at all.  But my strategy, when I'm feeling extra shitty, is to get more dressed up. 

I usually don't wear much make-up, but on really bad days, when I do look tired or fluish and I'm really just completely exausted by the bullshit in my life, I put on eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, lipstick (Ughh, a sure sign I'm losing my mind when I wear lipstick).  I also put on sparkly earrings and a cheery necklace.  All this pretty distraction tends to make people gloss over my dead eyes and my frown so they don't even ask.

And when I'm feeling too dumpy to bother dressing up to hide my sad face, I go for the all black approach.  Then when somebody says, "Are you sick?" and I burst into tears, they can assume the all black is because somebody died.  Then later you can just say, "Somebody died and I don't want to talk about it." and it's true.  Surely somewhere in the world, somebody died today. 

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I used to be really good at the perpetual happy face. I had to live with it on, as being anything other than happy was Bad. (I have, um, issues.)

Anyway, after a while you get so used to it that it becomes automatic. You just have to sort of blank your mind, try not to think too deeply or react too much, pay entire attention to your surroundings, your exterior if you will, not your interior. Laugh a lot- even if you're not smiling very much it will look you're in a good mood, but only if your fake laugh isn't extremely...ummm...fake. In which case it is better to aim for neutral- make an effort not to frown, keep the jaw relaxed, make sure your lips aren't compressed. Smiling ALL THE TIME will say fake, too (and possibly 'psycho' as well- lol!)- so don't be too generous with the smiles.

Make sure your hair is brushed and your clothes are clean- nothing screams depressed like dishevelled hair and wrinkled slept-in clothes.

If you still get called out, saying you're just tired is the perfect excuse...if you're depressed, it's also honest ;)

Despite this little primer on Faking It, I don't recommend it. It won't make you feel better and people will still be rude. Most people will also leave you alone if you just look at them blankly if they say how awful you look, or better still, grimace and say "Gee, thanks! I'm feeling better already!" It's really terribly rude to tell somebody they look like they have the flu when the person has no idea whether that somebody is actually sick or not. Nobody looks like sunshine and roses ALL the time, sick or well, depressed or not.

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My job really requires me to put on a smiley "customer service" sort of face for the residents and their families, and a "never let em see you sweat" sort of face for the staff that I'm investigating.  Basically, I can't .... indulge myself when I'm feeling like crap.  That's how I see it.  When I'm reallllly feeling like I can't control it, I just stay home. 

The problem is, that after a day of not "indulging myself", I come home and completely implode, to the point of catatonia.  It ain't pretty, and is way tough on my husband.  The  energy required to maintain the illusion that I'm fine all day is monumental.  So far, I've been able to hang tough, but I envision a time when the whole thing will come crashing down, and I won't be so successful at it. 

I hope that time is a longgggggg way off.

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Make sure your hair is brushed and your clothes are clean- nothing screams depressed like dishevelled hair and wrinkled slept-in clothes.

Okay, that *did* make me smile. I went to pick up a day's worth of meds (DAMN the mail-in insurance rules!) from the local pharmacy. They know me well. I realized, while waiting, that my son's sweater was inside out and he was wearing earmuffs (it's not cold today), I've been slinging paint all day and it shows, no shower this morning, and the muddy dogs pawed us on the way to the car.

Yes, I'm here to pick up a day's worth of depakote & lamictal....

HURRY!!!!      ;)

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CNS: Really, even with your pdoc? Ummm, why? Just curious. But not sure I trust your smile. Backing away slowly......

With my pdoc, I think it's just as much as with anybody else who could help--habit+don't want to appear weak+don't want to open up.  Always try to put the best spin on things and be optimistic, y'know?  That way I can at least *pretend* life doesn't suck.

And you only need to back away from that little smile I get when I'm ready to kill... you'd know it when you saw it...

realized, while waiting, that my son's sweater was inside out and he was wearing earmuffs (it's not cold today), I've been slinging paint all day and it shows, no shower this morning, and the muddy dogs pawed us on the way to the car.

Geez, that's how I look most of the time--I think people wonder what's wrong when i'm all clean!

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Yah, I'm a cocktail waitress (and a woman!) and we are expected to be smiling like phony flight attendants all day.  It's esp hard on woman as we aren't allowed any emotions (b/c any emotion other than smiling/happy is PMS, of course). 

I've been fighting all week to be pleasant to the customers, but in the end I decided they just have to put up with efficiency (tho, I've been a little lost in that dept.)  However, I made up a lie to tell them and get them to shut up if they questioned me (because it's happened).  I was going to tell them a friend died, so there!  Since I feel like I'm in grief it's not too far a stretch.

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I have been very lucky in that my job does not require me to be social or put on a happy face.

Of course, the first two years there, I didn't talk to anyone.  Just read and did my job.  Once off the AP's, my personality returned and I slowly came out of my shell, started talking and joking around.

When I do have a bad day, they don't even question when I absorb myself in a book and am non-social except for the hellos and a few muttered words here and there.

I did tell a few people about my MI only because they had built up the trust for me to do so.  One guy told me that people would always ask him who that girl in the corner was.  Now he understands!  (I work in an industry where people are a little less (more?) discriminating towards others (don't judge) because they come into contact with people from all walks of life.)(television)  But, it still doesn't mean that there won't be that one person that judges me, oh well.  So far (knock on wood) people still treat me the same.  I think some of it is that I am a pretty likeable, unusual person before they know and I just present it in a way that is like, "yay, I am bipolar, I can function like any other person, but with just a few more challenges."  Some want to know more, some just say ok and act like nothing's changed.  (as far as I know)

But, I think I am done talking about it at work overall.  Just trying hard not to screw up my job when trying new drugs, having a down day or just spacing out.

Oh, the times I do have to put on a happy face is when I am around my nieces.  I have had to go up to my room and just sleep when I am down around them.  I hate that!

Ok, probably told your more than you asked for.  Hope everyone makes it through with as little trouble as is possible.  (I am waiting for it to bite me in the a**!

Kathryn

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I used to think I had a "happy face" or a "sane face" (that was from another thread.)  Now I know differently.  I also used to refer to it as my "poker face."  Nuh-uh.  Apparently I am Transparency Woman because my face tells it all.  You don't even have to know me well and you can tell WTF is going on in my neighbourhood.

And this would happen when I was younger too.  Even if I didn't necessarily feel all that depressed I remember being the sort of social outcast at parties in high school and for the nth time being asked "What's wrong?" and really, there wasn't anything wrong.  I was just sitting back in Observer Mode.  Pretty much my M.O. as a kid anyway. 

I was always quite shy and a "lurker" and never really became the chatty mouthpiece that I can now sometimes be until adulthood. 

Karen

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