At the time a lot of people had no idea. People who I was closer with and saw me more often noticed there was ‘something’. But most of the time it was just me,  alone on bad days, in my bed or with a blanket on the couch. If I had to go out, I put myself together and put on a fake smile.

When I tell people about my depression they mostly respond with: ‘You? But you are always so happy’. How you look apparently has nothing to do with how you feel. It is easy to act like nothing is wrong, because telling the truth is scary. There is still a taboo: it is not cool to have a depression. Next to that, I was afraid people would think of me differently. If you tell them, you put yourself in such a vulnerable position, I did not feel like doing that. This gave me a secret I had to carry with me.

When people asked me how I felt, I made up excuses. If someone wanted to hang out, I told them that I was tired, that I was not in the mood or had other plans. It felt like a relieve when I got out of it and could stay in bed or on the couch.

However, sometimes I had obligations I could not skip and I had to leave the house. I was happy, but too happy. It felt like I had to exaggerate my happiness, because I wanted to suppress my real feelings. It happened automatically, as a system to survive. But who did I lie to the most? To the people around me who had no idea what was going on? Or to myself because I acted like nothing was wrong? Pretending like it was not there and just smile.

There have been several moments I could not take it anymore, but I did not show that. I would go to the toilet and locked myself up. On those moments the tears ran down my cheeks. I saw someone I was not when I looked in the mirror: I saw an unhappy girl who needed help. But also a girl who did not dear to ask for help and kept her chin up. I saw a girl with tears running down her cheeks, but dried them up as soon as she left the toilet. After slapping my cheeks softly, a deep breathe and waving some air in my face you could not see the sadness anymore. I blended in again and put on a smile.

But the question stayed, ‘who am I lying to?’ Now I have the answer. Friends, family and even the people you will not expect it from, they do not blame you. They are there when you need them. I did not lie to them, I just kept it from them. And even though it was scary, I am happy I told them. There are always people who do not understand it and it is hard to explain. But people just want to be there for you in their own way. All they want is just to see you happy.

I lied to myself. I acted like nothing was wrong, while at home I broke down. I passed my own boundaries and thought I could handle it. I did not want to breg and did not want to feel this way. I wanted to be healthy and happy, I just wanted to be me. But I lied, I lied to myself. Everybody has their right not to feel OK. You cannot help it, it just happens.

The sooner you are true to yourself, the more people can be there for you. Even though you prefer being alone, you need your loved ones around you. Lying to yourself is a battle you will never win. It is a fight you want to lose, but do not dare to give up. Be true to yourself, everyone deserves that. You should not feel shame for a depression. A depression is an illness and can happen to anyone. Please stop lying to yourself, only then you can recover!

Love, Sharon

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Sharon Zuijdervliet

Experience expert in depression. I hope that I can help others, through my story, and let them (re)discover their love for sports. More about me? Go to https://www.triathlonchick.nl

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