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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What Losing Someone To Suicide Really Feels Like.

In Loving Memory of Andrew Allen Boykin (1997-2015)

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A word that describes what it feels like to lose someone to suicide? That doesn't exist. It's actually a whole jumbled up pool of emotions. Almost unbearable comes to mind, but that still doesn't quite cover it. You never think it'll happen to someone you know, much less a family member.

Let me start off by telling you about my experience. I was up late one night studying for a big nursing test I had the next morning. My phone started ringing, and I automatically assumed it was my boyfriend who knew I would still be up at midnight. It wasn't, though. It was my mother, who usually goes to bed before 10 every night. I knew something bad had happened.

"Mama, what's wrong?" I could hear her crying already. "Baby, Andrew shot himself," my mother then told me. I flooded her with questions. Where? Is he okay? Why was he playing around with a gun this late? What happened? She then said, "No, baby, he killed himself."

Disbelief

Disbelief was my first reaction. No, that couldn't be true. Not my Andrew. Not my 17-year-old, crazy, silly, cousin Andrew. Not the kid who eats sour Skittles while we walk through Walmart and then throws away the pack before we get to the register. Not the kid who, while we all lay in the floor in Grandma's living room, is constantly cracking jokes and telling us stories about how he's a real ladies' man. This can't be real. I'm gonna go home and it is all just gonna be a mix-up.

Confusion

It wasn't, though. I sat in the home of my grandparents, with the rest of my family, confused. We tried to go over what could have caused him to do it. Was it a girl? Did we do something wrong? He acted normal. Nothing seemed off, but I guess nobody will ever truly know.

Anger

For a minute there I was mad. How could he do this? Did he not know what this would do to everyone? So many people loved him. I just couldn't understand, but I wasn't Andrew. How could I understand?

Regret

Regret was my next feeling. Why didn't I do more? What could I have done? How did I not notice he was hurting so bad? There wasn't anyone who knew, though. For the longest time, I told myself that I should have texted him more or just made sure he knew I loved him. In the end, I always realize that there wasn't anything I could have done and that he knew I loved him.

Pain

The funeral was almost insufferable. A church filled with people who loved Andrew. People that would never get to see him or hear his laugh again. The casket was closed and the whole time all I could think about was how I just wanted to hold his hand one last time. My brother, who spent almost every weekend with Andrew since they were little, didn't even want to go inside. They were only a year and a half apart. At one point he just fell to the ground in tears. This kind of pain is the heart-breaking kind. The pain of picking a 15-year-old off the ground when he hurts so bad he can't even go on anymore.


Heartache

This led to heartache. I thought so much about how his life was way too short. He would never get to graduate high school or go to college. He would never get his first grown-up job. He'd never get married or have children. Dwelling on these thoughts did some major damage to my heart. We missed him. We wanted him back, but we could never go back to how things were.

Numbness

For a while after, I could honestly say I was numb. It had hurt so much I think my body shut down for a little while. That disbelief would pop up again and I would forget it was real. I'd try to block out the reminders but that doesn't really work. Every time I see sour Skittles I think about him, or wear this certain pair of earrings he'd always try to get me to give him.

Longing

This past week marked a whole year since he passed away. What am I feeling now? Still all of these things plus a little more. Longing is a good word. I miss him every day and wish so much that he was still here with us. I'll see little reminders of him and smile or laugh. We had so many good memories, and I could never forget those or him. That's what I cling to now. That was my Andrew.


In Loving Memory of Andrew Allen Boykin (1997-2015)

"If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever."


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

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Masking Your Pain Leads To Self Destruction

Pain, physical suffering or discomfort caused by illness.

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I scream. I've been diagnosed. There's a virus inside of me, and it continues to spread throughout my body. I can't get rid of it. I knew in that very moment that pain became my best friend.

No one can see me like this. What would they think? I have to be strong, you know, hold up this image. So, I put on the "TyAsia's" very own masks, to hold up this image. I tell myself, they can't see the tears I've cried that late night when my family found out my stepdad was murdered. The one time I came to school hungry because my mother couldn't afford to buy groceries for the month. Or the time when I first met my biological father. Piece by piece, my masks are coming along pretty strong, don't you think?

Pain greeted me at a time where I had nothing, absolutely nothing. It explored me from head to toe, finding my most vulnerable moments. In this case, I became a victim of a controlling monstrous beast. This beast fed off my difficulties and insecurities in life. It knew me at my best and worst, where to get me good. I can't escape it. Something new is happening in my life, and it longs for new feelings.

The amazing thing about life is that lightness will always prevail. Whether you are going through depression or a bad breakup, a light will find a way to shine into your life. With pain comes the recovery process, and though I wasn't expecting one, but it came. Drowning in fear, I never expected to see the light. People always say life comes at you and you just coexist with it. However, I say otherwise. This world is no joke. I've had to mature before the time came, and it broke my view of the world. I saw things differently, and I still see things differently. These last four years of my life I felt alone and ashamed. I hid from the people I loved the most and those who care deeply about me.

I feel my mask shattering. The pieces that helped shape the mask are falling. Piece by piece, they disappear. This mask was my best friend. We were like two. Screwed into my head, the mask that hid my most painful moments in life is gone.

I don't scream anymore. I've been cleared from the virus. I don't wear masks around here.

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