If someone were to ask what depression looks like, most would picture gloomy days, dark clouds and an overly tired woman who can't get out of bed. Depression is dark, ugly and weighted. But to be honest, it's not always.
My depression doesn't look like this. It's in and out. There are good days and bad days and anxiety in between.
My depression hovers like a billowy cloud, ready to pour rain at any moment. It's there to steal my moments. Ready to take away whatever semblance of happiness has showered my day. It shows up like a thief in the night. It's quiet, lurking and unforgivable.
My depression doesn't look like me missing work, curled up in a ball at home. It's me, pushing through a workday, slapping a fake smile on my face and feeling the anxiety of not faking it good enough. It's using a high pitched voice to assert myself in moments when I'd rather collapse in on myself.
My depression is laughing one day and crying the next. It is spilled milk AND crying about it. It's not crying at a funeral and then crying for an hour over dropping a drink. My depression is confusing. It's emotional.
It's heavy. Yet pausing.
It's reminding myself to breathe. My depression is getting so wrapped up in my feelings that I forget to eat. It's drowning in anxiety, worried about how everyone feels about me. It's going over last conversations, wishing I'd said something differently. It's constantly apologizing to everyone for everything.
My depression is avoiding committed relationships so I never have to admit how much validation I need. It's pretending not to care while caring oh so much.
My depression isn't spending all day in bed, rather it's staying up all night, never able to sleep. My depression doesn't come with thoughts of suicide or harming myself. However, it fills me with thoughts of shame and guilt and a heavy reminder that no matter what I do, I'm not good enough.
Sometimes we decide what people's mental health is, without really having a clue. Society slaps a stigma on anxiety and depression and decides what it CAN and SHOULD look like, without ever consulting someone who's going through it.
My depression might take a pause. It might even leave me alone for a month. But it will still find me. With my friends, when I'm out in public, or alone in my car. It will find its way back in. It will claw its way around my heart, burning all my veins to keep itself warm.
My depression doesn't look like yours. And that's OK.
There's no perfect way to have anxiety. Not everyone will experience depression or anxiety in the same way, but that doesn't take away its impact. You can be high functioning and appear "normal" all while battling something inside.
So if you see someone looking tired, stressed, or a little bit frazzled. Leave them alone. Offer to help. Give them a smile.
Just don't judge them.