I recently posted two pictures on Facebook. One was of me in the middle of a severe depressive episode. The other was when I was slightly manic- or you could say on a “good” day. Both of them included my children.
“Can you tell the difference?”, I typed. There didn’t appear to be any difference in either photo. That was the whole point. I wanted people to realize that those with mental illnesses- or any invisible illness- can be having the best or worst day and you’d never know the difference.
There’s a reason we say be kind to everyone you meet because you don’t know what battles they’re fighting. This is why when people hurt themselves or commit suicide, we often hear: “Well, I didn’t know they were even depressed. They didn’t appear that way.”
There’s a reason we say appearances are deceiving.
There’s a reason we call them “invisible illnesses.”
Many people who face depression are also filled with shame and guilt. They do not share their feelings with anyone. They do not want to appear ungrateful for the life they lead or judged for their apathy. They do not know how to justify a sadness they themselves cannot explain.
So, how can we help?
Be kind to the mom who seems off or keeps canceling.
Don’t judge the woman who may dress differently or isn’t as friendly as you think she should be. She may have used every bit of her strength just to show up to that event.
Offer help to the parent who seems overwhelmed.
Check in with friends, even when you feel like you can’t fit one more thing into your busy day.
And realize that you will rarely “see” that someone is depressed, hurting or fighting an invisible illness unless they themselves point it out.~Lindsay