Any Type of Person Can Have Depression, Even “Happy” Girls Like Me

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As the shocking and heartbreaking news about the death of Robin Williams was heard around the world this week, my brain was spinning with how many celebrities have either committed suicide or accidentally overdosed after self-medicating their depression. The common thread that I notice in online comments goes something like this: “How could a person who seems so happy be so depressed?”

Everyone wants to believe the stereotype that those with depression are always outwardly gloomy and withdrawn. Then they can feel comforted and think, “Nope! I don’t know anybody who fits that description! All my friends and family act happily, so we’re safe.”

Well, that’s just the thing – happiness can be an act. Some of us are damn good at pretending like everything is peachy perfect and that we’re not crumbling on the inside. Take me, for example. I’ve struggled with depression, on-and-off, since middle school. I’ve learned how to hide it well, because there’s such a huge stigma attached to depression and related mental illnesses. I never wanted new friends or potential employers to think that I wasn’t worth getting to know because I sometimes struggle with depression. And that’s part of the problem. The fact that I feel embarrassed about my feelings and have to hide this big part of my life makes me feel even more ashamed and depressed. It’s a vicious cycle.

I know a surprisingly large number of people who have struggled with depression, and almost all of them feel like they have to hide this about themselves out of fear of not being accepted anymore. One time, when I’d been in a major low for a while, a former boyfriend of mine yelled at me to snap out of it and stop being pathetic. What did this experience with him teach me? It taught me that I need to constantly fake being happy so that people will like me and respect me. I need to crack jokes, smile, and be amazingly conversational all the time in order to be loved. That’s what we’ve all learned. Are these useful talents in life? Definitely. But did I feel more alone than ever because most people have no clue that I struggle emotionally? Yes, yes, yes.

We need to allow people with depression to come forward and talk about their experiences without the stigma. We need to love them instead of shunning them and making them feel even more alone. If you had good conversations with me and laughed with me before you knew I had depression, why does anything have to change now? If I was lovable before you knew I had depression, why can’t I be just as lovable after? Yes, I deal with depression, but that doesn’t define me. It doesn’t define any of us. I can still be a great girlfriend, employee, friend, daughter, and adventurer. I don’t need any sympathy – I just want to be able to talk about my own life experience without feeling ashamed. I believe that is something we all deserve.

As a final note to give you some more background about my situation, I don’t take any medications for depression and never have. Instead, I worked with a famous psychiatrist to develop a holistic lifestyle plan that helps alleviate my depression. It was through that work with her that I’ve seen how important holistic wellness is to living a life of happiness and health. My goal in life is to continue down this path and help others lead a life of wellness too. I now feel more happy and stable than I’ve ever felt before, and I’m so excited to share my passions with you!

It was honestly very difficult to write this post, because the thought of repercussions can be scary. I feel very vulnerable, but I also know I’m speaking my truth. Hopefully my voice will add to shedding light on the fact that depression is a very common issue for diverse types of people. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I know this blog post is more serious than my usual ones, but I felt it was pertinent and necessary. Lighter ones to come! 🙂

Love to all of you,

xo Caylee

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12 thoughts on “Any Type of Person Can Have Depression, Even “Happy” Girls Like Me

  1. Hi Caylee! I read this blog back in August and wrote to you the same day via my iPhone. Sadly it never got posted here. (It’s somewhere out there) Nonetheless, you are an incredible young woman to come forward and talk about your depression. I do believe that anyone who doesn’t suffer from it cannot understand what you are going through. And I will tell you, that I would be the first one in line to pop a pill to make it “go away”. I’m glad to hear that you are not running down that path. Follow your dreams my sweet Caylee!
    Kenny has a dear friend that is suffering from depression. It just breaks our heart because she is such a beautiful person inside and out. From what we see on the “outside” is a perfect life. I’m happy that she is now talking about it. I am going to send her your blog. Her name is Betty.
    Ok now…I’m going to try to post this (I’m using a computer now:)

  2. I think it is fantastic you pressed publish on this post and I bet it, although a little scary for you, it was also a little freeing too! The more you talk about it the more educated we all become! Everyone is related to or knows someone who struggles with depression. I am a HUGE supplement taker so for you to be able to control your depression holistically is phenomenal!!

    • Thanks so much for commenting! It does feel good to just let it all out sometimes! In terms of supplements, the only two I take are Omega 3’s and an oxidative stress reducer called Protandim – which I am a distributor of. Both have been crazy helpful in not only helping with my depression, but also with my general mind & body functioning. Loving the holistic wellness lifestyle 🙂

  3. Kudos to you for having the courage to share this. I have a close family member who has had some pretty bad struggles with depression in the past, so I know it can be rough. Though not necessarily severe, I’ve had times where I felt pretty down, too and had some struggles with self-doubt and anxiety. I came across a brilliant book a couple years ago called When Panic Attacks by Dr. David Burns. Despite the cheesy title, it’s pure genius. It’s very down-to-earth and shows you techniques to help you break the negative thought patterns that tend to be at the root of the depression or anxiety.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Melissa! I’ll definitely check out your book recommendation soon. I really appreciate it! Self-help books are my guilty pleasure 🙂

  4. Caylee, thank you so much for this post. Your willingness to step into the vulnerability shows why your site is called “Gutsy Girl Wellness.”

    Thanks for explaining the struggles with depression, and also your path to empowerment. I struggled with depression in my early 20s. Even though it hasn’t “plagued” me in the 10 years since — my trips outside the U.S. especially helped me with this — there is always this fear at the back of my head that I will fall “back” into depression. I’ve often wondered why that fear is so huge for me, and your post made me reflect on why.

    • Czarina! Thank you so much for commenting. It’s becoming more and more clear that so many of us are struggling, or have struggled, with depression at some point in our lives.

      I’m curious to know why you feel that your trips outside the U.S. have helped you. From my experience, I often feel my highest when I’m traveling too. Perhaps it’s because that during travel I focus on the present, on the “now,” instead of worrying about the past or future. My mind is free because I’m so consumed with the new people I’m meeting and the beautiful places I’m seeing. I’d love to know your thoughts on this! 🙂

      • Caylee, thanks so much for keying into this important topic! To respond to your question, for many years I believed that it was my first trip to Central America right after college graduation that “saved my life,” because of my prior depression. Yes, I agree with what you stated about the the effects of traveling: being in a different culture wakes you up because the body and mind have so much to see and learn.

        But also when I haven’t been traveling but just *living* abroad, I find that what helps me is the different pace of life — with focus more on family, rather than work/status. Now, the times I’ve been abroad while doing U.S.-based work assignments, I have felt my stress increase and even experienced some depression and anxiety. But at the end of the day when abroad I generally feel appreciated by those around me for just *being* with them — as opposed to my worth being evaluated based on my work accomplishments, which is how I have sometimes felt in certain U.S. social or even family circles. This is a huge overgeneralization, but for the most part feels true in my experience. Also, I tend to live a simpler life abroad, and I’m finding that for me, simpler = less complication = less overwhelm.

        By the way, classmates also called me the “Smilely Girl” growing up. The label appears harmless compared to other disparaging ones, but as you point out, even these labels force us into playing roles that we don’t always want to live up to.

        • I’ve always wanted to live abroad again for the specific reasons you’ve stated, Czarina. I’ve traveled in Central America during two summers, and with just that small experience I felt more calm and centered than ever before. I completely agree with you that the U.S. is SO work accomplishment focused. What if we just want to be appreciated for being kind, passionate individuals? Whenever I was in Costa Rica, I didn’t feel the need to be super fashionable all the time or have a high-status job. I felt great just living humbly and simply… but as soon as you get back to the U.S., the pressure is on again. Maybe I need to move…. 🙂

  5. Grateful that you shared this. I’ve stopped telling people about my struggle with depression because no one believes me or takes it seriously. I’ve been told time and time again that I DON’T struggle with depression, as if other people can make that claim about me. I’m also the “happy girl” with “everything going right in my life”, so how could or why would I be depressed? It’s almost as if people don’t believe you have it till you kill yourself. Anyway, thanks for sharing this. You’re right – it’s very hard/scary to talk about. I’m very glad that you’ve found ways to alleviate the depression. I was on medicine for years until I found similar ways. I’m doing SO much better now, but it still affects my life and my relationships. ❤

    • Thanks for talking about your experience, Claire. I completely understand where you’re coming from. It’s hard to share information like this with some people because when they rebut and say, “You can’t have depression- you’re happy” it makes one’s emotions feel completely discounted and not understood. The happy face I put on in public sometimes does reflect how I’m feeling internally- I do feel happy a lot these days! But sometimes I put on my happy face in public and then barely leave my bed for the next three days in private. Depression is the issue that everyone wants to keep hidden because, when talked about, it shatters the image of perfection. I’m tired of that… I just want to be myself, both the bad & the good! ❤

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