I was diagnosed with smiling depression at a young age. According to Healthline, "Smiling depression is a term for someone living with depression on the inside while appearing perfectly happy or content on the outside. Their public life is usually one that's 'put together,' maybe even what some would call normal or perfect." No one in my family believed me when I said that someone was wrong with my mind and they just called me lazy and needy. I can still remember sitting in my therapist's waiting room at the ripe age of twelve. My mom insisted I talked about my "laziness" to someone to prove that I was a mentally stable kid, but, she got the opposite as an answer. I come from a Hispanic household and in my culture, mental health issues do not exist. It is the sad reality of my culture and my family really believed in it. It resulted in no one really helping me overcome depressive episodes and I was often told that "I could stop it if I told myself to". Being so young, everything my family told me would often stick in my mind and I did not tell anyone about my smiling depression.
I should have talked about it to my friends but I was afraid I would be brushed aside and treated like a child who longed for attention. Because I did not tell anyone, I started listening to music a lot more. I found myself into the stereotypical "emo" music like Falling In Reverse and Bring Me The Horizon. I thought since sad people listened to it, then I would feel better. I didn't. In many ways, I felt worse. I could not relate to the bands or the fans because they were so much older than me and had gone through so many traumatic experiences. It was at this time when a cousin of mine and their family often started to contact my family. A few years earlier, they moved from the United States to South Korea. I can remember my mom and aunt getting excited when my cousin was selected to get into Korean pop or K-Pop.
I was so curious about this type of music that my younger sisters and I looked up K-Pop music on YouTube. It all started with one music video, Hello by SHINee. I was hooked the second the song started. I watched one after another for hours. I thought it was just a music genre until I googled the term, K-Pop. I found dozens of forums and memes. It was a massive community. There were hundreds of K-Pop bands and each band had their own little family of fans. I felt so at home.
It was not until I was around sixteen when I noticed a massive difference in my mental health. I made a large group of friends within the fandom and the groups themselves reached out to us, the fans, and made an effort to make us feel loved. It was amazing. Most of the groups were close to my age and I related to them. I watched my own cousin grow up in the K-Pop community and a year earlier they debuted into a K-Pop group where now they are well-known. My cousin helped me a lot with my mental health and he helped me see the reality of life and how I was not alone. I had the entire K-Pop community on my side.
Today, I can proudly say that my depression is nearly gone. I feel so happy and I rarely have episodes. K-Pop and groups like NCT, SHINee, Stray Kids, and my cousin's group have helped me so much. I have made so many friends and I know they have my back. I love K-Pop for what they have done for me and thousands of others in my position.