The Weight of Invisible Suffering
You cannot see my scars and I have no visible proof that I’m suffering to the extent that I am. You just saw me yesterday and I was “fine.” I didn’t appear to be ill or limping or in pain, and yet today I can’t show up and you’re confused. You’re wondering how it is that I could jump from “fine” to “unable to even come to the phone” in less than 24 hours.
You don’t see the pain I feel upon waking or the daily struggle to eat or get out of bed. You can’t possibly understand the compounded disappointment when I can’t seem to do the most simplest of tasks, like laundry or dishes or just even making my bed. You can’t imagine the saddened look on my children’s faces when I tell them I can’t play with them, because I’m not feeling well again, and how that only feeds further into my feeling like a worthless piece of shit.
If I have a string of really bad days, I have to avoid you. I cannot bring this woman to our dinner or coffee or even for a walk. I cannot let you see me like this again. I cannot shake the fear that you will, like me, get sick and tired of how low I am all the time. I imagine your rejection with the amount of distain I myself feel for how pathetic and ungrateful I sound when I’m like this.
Poor me and my depression. Yes, I have no physical abnormalities, disabilities or prognosis that should keep me from this — yes — this amazing life I have. And when I do show up, I have no incredibly relatable excuse for being late other than the fact I spent two hours changing clothes to look not like how I feel so that you might enjoy time with me and not never speak to me again.
Even in my writing and social media, I worry that I’m so beyond depressing I’m akin to Debbie Downer and keeping you stuck in your own cycle of sadness. I cannot be hopeful or helpful when I feel like this.
When I’m like this I have no hope to share, and that’s not who I am when I’m not. That’s not who I am. And yet so many days it is, and I don’t know how to be this person out loud. I don’t know how to not want to hide her away until she can behave like a “normal” human being.
All I know how to do when I’m like this is avoid you seeing me like this. All I want to do is protect the image of me that you’ve had since the last time you saw me — the last time I was me.
The last time I was me, we joked and laughed and I lost myself in the joy of just being outside, and with you, and enjoying time. When I’m like this, I don’t enjoy time. Honestly, most often I wish it would go away.
The last time you saw me I was showered and made up and wearing clean clothes; maybe even my favorite perfume. My hair wasn’t greasy or thrown up in a rat’s nest atop my head and I was not wearing the same pajama pants I had for three days. I wanted to be wherever we were, and most likely didn’t want to leave when you had to go. I probably spent another hour there or driving around so that I could soak up more of what it’s like feel worthy of more air, and sunshine, and life; because I didn’t want it to end.
When I’m like this I don’t. Just fill in the blanks, ‘cuz whatever it is, I don’t. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want you to waste your time trying to make me feel better, and I don’t want you to feel at all like there’s something more you could have said or done. I don’t want to bother you with what, from the outside, look like luxury problems. I don’t to want to risk the judgement — or even worse, the pity — I might see in your eyes while you wonder why you’re even friends with me.
Because you can’t see my scars, and I have no visible proof that I am suffering to the extend that I am. And you just saw me yesterday, and I was “fine.”