Just Because Someone Is Smiling Doesn't Mean They Are OK

Just Because Someone Is Smiling Doesn't Mean They Are OK

Never underestimate just how much a smile can hide.

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So many people don't realize just how much a smile can hide.

Kurt Cobain smiled and had a beautiful baby girl he loved. Chester Bennington had a family and spent his life performing, playing music he loved with people who were like his family.

Kate Spade was on the phone with her father just one hour before she killed herself, happily talking about a trip she was planning. Robin Williams was a freaking comedian with a long line of funny movies, and we lost him to the darkness of his mind. Pete Davidson (regardless of your current opinion of him) is also a comedian who goes on a comedy show almost every weekend with a smile on his face.

I smile every day.

But I'm not always happy.

I've lived with anxiety and depression most of my life. I've perfected the art of smiling through racing anxious thoughts, through depression. Of going into work and acting perfectly "normal," like nothing is wrong or bothering me. Of putting on a happy face and shoving down the dark feelings to be forgotten for just a little a few hours, only for it to creep back in over time.

That time may be a few hours later, it may be right after I leave my friends. Sometimes it doesn't even stay shoved down, but lingers in the back of my mind.

Most of the time, I'm just moving through life. Another day, another class. Another shift to get through. Another assignment to read or do. Another weekend with my boyfriend gone too fast and back into the long week by myself.

I technically have friends. However, I'm not particularly close with most of them. Years of negative experiences with failed friendships has heavily shaken my confidence when it comes to making friends. I get scared about coming on too strong or reaching out only to realize I care more than the other person does. It's happened, both long ago and quite recently. Anxiety makes it hard for me to be bold (or at least, bold for me) and just casually reach out to someone saying "Hey, let's do something!"

But yet, I smile through. I have to, as my way of getting through. There definitely is some truth to the saying "fake it till you make it."

I come off as one of the "strong" people. Someone who you know deals with mental health, but they seem okay most of the time--or at least, they don't give off any indication things could be going negatively. That they need someone to check in on them, be there for them.

We "strong" people often don't reach out because we don't want to feel like a burden. We don't want to constantly be turning to our friends for help and support, because it may be viewed as just dumping all our feelings on our friends and then we're "the downer."

Please check in on your "strong" friends. We may seem like we are okay, or like we have things under control, but we are often the ones who need your love, support, and help the most. Even just coming over with ice cream or a distracting movie, no words spoken, can help. It's physically being there and lending emotional support with your presence that can sometimes help the most.

Be there for people. And more importantly, take a look past the smiles.

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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Dealing With Anxiety And Depression In College Is Hard, But You're Never By Yourself

My struggles only made me stronger, and God is preparing me for something much bigger.

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Anxiety and depression are two things I've struggled with all of my life, but they were also two things I could never put a name to. In middle school, I believed my mannerisms were something everyone else around me was going through as well.

High school was okay because I was constantly surrounded by people I loved, but as soon as I got to college, it was as if I transformed into this completely different person. My grades dropped, I was losing weight, I was constantly sick, and it felt as if no one around me knew what I was going through or even really cared.

But I'm here to tell you that that's definitely not the case.

Before I could fix myself, I had to name what I was going through, and I think that was the hardest part. I was ashamed to say I faced anxiety and depression because I didn't want to come off as broken. I'd always been known as that "bright and smart" girl, someone who was always smiling and optimistic about whatever she was facing. Someone who always loved everyone else and had no time to worry about herself because she was constantly putting others first.

I was so afraid to label myself as these negative things because I've always been taught the more you label yourself, the more you're limiting yourself from reaching your full potential. But when I was labeled as optimistic, I felt I had no right to be down about things. When I was labeled as smart, anytime I didn't reach the highest level of success, I felt like a failure. When I was labeled as selfless, I felt as though I had no right to worry about myself or my own wellbeing.

The sooner I accepted the feelings I was facing and that I wasn't the only one facing them, the sooner I was able to heal.

The sooner I realized it was all in my head, the easier it was to get rid of those feelings. I began to learn that the trials I was facing weren't normal like my middle school self had convinced me they were, but after being able to name what I was going through, I was able to accept it as it was and push myself to heal. And by push, I mean literally push. I stopped calling my family during breakdowns and instead listened to music that distracted me. I stopped canceling plans with my friends and forced myself to go out because I knew I would have a good time if I just went. I stopped skipping meals just so I wouldn't have to walk across the quad, and my body is thanking me for it every day.

I realized it was okay to feel sorry for myself, but feeling sorry for myself didn't have to include moping around all day. Instead, I started treating myself to getting my nails done, splurging on those new boots, or small things such as buying ice cream with the spare change in my glove compartment. Feeling sorry for myself meant going above and beyond to make myself smile, worshipping more to heal my heart, and spending more time with the people I love to feel whole again.

Now I'm healing, but it's still something I still struggle with to this day. I still think about skipping meals, my anxiety attempting to convince me not to take the short walk across the quad. I still think about bailing out on hanging out with friends. I still think about skipping class. I still struggle with seeing the positive things about waking up in the mornings, wanting nothing more but to curl into a ball and cry until I fall asleep again.

I still struggle with naming the things that I'm feeling, and where they come from, but I'm also learning.

I'm learning not to be ashamed of who I am. I'm learning to find joy in the little things, such as a warmer day than the one before, or a free coffee from the little breakfast shop. I'm learning that what I'm going through doesn't make me weak. I'm learning that I'm not a burden, and the faster you can accept what you're feeling, the faster you'll be able to heal, too.

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