#youarenotalone: You don’t look like what you’ve been through.


Today, we have our first anonymous post. It’s about something that we all need hear. For those of us who don’t understand depression and suicidal tendencies, we don’t want to hear about it. We don’t want to believe it. But it’s real, and it exists. That is why we’re doing #youarenotalone. These things need to be talked about and understood.

Don’t forget, if you have a story, but you’re worried about putting your name on it, you can still share it with us. We want to hear from you. Sign up here.

Most people don’t believe me, you know. They can’t understand why a girl like me struggles with depression and – in darker seasons – a strong desire to end it all. After all, I seem perfectly normal. So does my family. It can’t be true.

A few months ago, I heard something I’d never heard before. Someone was sharing a testimony at church and said, “I don’t look like what I’ve been through.”

I wonder if that’s why people don’t believe me – because I don’t look like what I’ve been through. Maybe, I don’t look like twenty years of depression and suicidal thoughts. Maybe, I don’t look like all of the things that brought me there. And maybe, that is supposed to be a good thing.

But it doesn’t feel good when people don’t believe it simply because they don’t see it. They don’t see me flat on my back day after day when I get home from work; they don’t see me not eating, because I can’t work up the energy to cook, much less clean up after cooking; they don’t see me screaming silently in the shower, fist stuffed to my mouth and tears streaming down my face; they don’t see me numb in the shower, not fully aware of how long I’ve been in there, looking back and forth from my razor to my wrist, wondering if everyone isn’t better off without me; they don’t see all of the things I don’t say, much less the things I can’t say. Instead, they see me at work, smiling; they see me at work, getting promoted; they see me at church, smiling and singing and teaching their kids; they see what I share on my blog and Facebook. And then they assume that what they see is what I’m going through.

Just because I don’t look like what I’ve been through, what I’m going through, doesn’t mean I’m being dramatic or lying when I talk about it. Quite the opposite, actually: I want people to know there is more to me than what they see; I want to let them in.

But they don’t believe me.

It’s hard for me to write in the #youarenotalone theme when there is nothing quite so isolating as not being believed. I’m writing for all of the other women and men who’ve battled depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts and don’t look like it; who aren’t believed because they don’t look like what they’ve been through.

I want you to know I get it: what people perceive about you is not everything that you’re dealing with, maybe not even close. I want you to know that it’s okay not to look like what you’ve been through – it’s not any better or worse to look it or not; people have a whole other set of judgments and misconceptions when you do. I want you to know there is at least one other person who cycles through numbness and crippling emotions and irrational thoughts and you wouldn’t know it to look at her. I want you to know it doesn’t make it any less real just because most people haven’t seen it.

You are not alone.

Keep opening up to people, even if they might not believe you. At some point, someone will, and then another, and another. I still remember the first time I heard an “I’m so sorry” instead of a scoff. I still get scoffs, of course, but every time someone believes me, it gives me life. It will give you life, too.

You are not alone.


Stay up to date with the #youarenotalone posts by subscribing to my blog posts or following the hashtag on Twitter and Facebook.


3 thoughts on “#youarenotalone: You don’t look like what you’ve been through.

  1. I believe you. Just been through–and survived–another episode of winter depression. YOu are correct, though, in that people don’t often know what to say or do when it comes to relating to depression. When I’m not smiling and someone says something like “Smile, it’s not that bad”, I realize that the person doesn’t really KNOW what’s going on inside of me. The best memories I’ve had are when people just choose to walk beside me, still being my friend and not judging or nagging me to do something that I’m not quite ready to do yet, or which won’t happen via the nagging. This winter was bad and yes, I often thought that people would have been better without me. I guess what stops me most times is that I know several children and I don’t or can’t grasp what a parent might say to one of them in order to explain something this complicated.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Becoming a Person of Joy | thoughts about my wilderness journey

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