Of course you can. We all do. There’s always something we’d rather some people, or everyone, not know about us or a situation. The diplomatic service would crumble into nothing if we never had any.
I’ve often wondered if those of us going through depression, or any illness not physical for that matter, might carve out a decent career in MI6 or Mossad or the KGB? After all, we become pretty adept at hiding from the world what we’re going through, even though it’s the one thing above all else that needs to be shared.
I’m no different. I told one of my siblings a few months ago that I’d been referred for group therapy. That’s it. Nobody else in my immediate family – at least not from me, anyway. He has no idea, however, about my one-to-one therapy, and no knowledge of that afternoon reaching out to the Samaritans for help.
As for friends, again, only one person knows, hundreds of miles away from me. She has no direct contact with any of my family or other friends. She wasn’t someone I chose to tell for that specific reason. She was just nice so I told her.
It’s clear why we keep it all a secret from the world. Shame, guilt, embarrassment. In my case, it’s a permanent feeling. I feel that somehow, being as ill in mind as I am is in itself an indictment of me as a person, some sort of weakness that is fair game for other people to criticise and be prejudicial of.
It’s daft, I know, and completely illogical. I realise that if I did tell all family and friends, some, if not most, would be supportive and helpful. Somehow, though, I feel I may be letting them down by being in this state in the first place.
There are probably a few, albeit very few, in my circle of family and friends who would take a step or two back, hold out their arms, and want to keep me at that length, while silently trying to think up one or two ‘mad’ jokes about me.
The result is the same. I hide the fact that I’m depressed to almost anyone close to me. It doesn’t take much either. When people ask how you’re keeping, it’s generally only a social nicety, to which you’re expected to say “Great” or “Pretty good” or some other inanity before you get on with your conversation.
Often, in those circumstances, the emotional part of me is screaming. It wants to tell them how unutterably miserable my existence is. It wants, through tears, to say what has torn me to shreds inside. It wants everyone to know “I’m not well. Someone help me. Please.”
It’s where the spying game comes in. The voice from what I feel is quietly suppressed, hidden behind a smile and a witticism, like any diplomat worth their salt can do. I’m playing the game, killing my heart and soul to spare social embarrassment. Whatever the hell the game is, I tell myself that I am, in some way, winning. Hmmmm.
The longer it goes on, the bigger that block becomes. It’s now at the stage where my default reaction to any feeling I experience, any thought I have, is to hide it from everyone else, to keep it locked inside.
I’m not alone in this, clearly. If I was, millions of therapists would find themselves out of work. Although some would stay in their jobs, dealing with the therapists unable to come to terms with their unemployment. There would be a distinct lack of blogs just like this, too.
It’s the reason why I’m committing all of this to print. Anonymously of course. The only way, outside of therapy, I feel I can uncork all those negative feelings and emotions building up inside of me.
Yet still the deceit continues. I can’t bring myself to even put my initials to anything I write, let alone name. In the cyber world, however, it matters little. Nobody is interested in your name, unless you’re famous, and I’m far, far away from that. It’s what the words say that’s important.
In the world of friends, family, and everyday living, however, I can’t look them in the eye. The feeling of dread comes from within whenever I feel a need to talk about depression, mental illness and me. So I hide it. I keep quiet. I suffer in silence, even though I know the damage it’s doing to me.
It’s a strange world we live in. I often can’t make head nor tail of it. Then again, who could make head or tail of me if they knew what I felt, if they realised what was going through my mind every single hour of every single day?
Best keep it a secret.