If you struggle with anxiety, depression, stress, or anything of the sort, you may be familiar with hiding your struggles. Speaking from my experience with anxiety, I know how difficult it can be to constantly feel like you need to put on a happy face even when you are struggling internally or to have people assume that you are fine just because you’re smiling.
Happiness is deceiving and it can be temporary, lasting just a few minutes or hours when you are dealing with anxiety, depression, or stress. I could go from feeling happy to sad and vice versa at the drop of a hat and I completely understand how the people around me can’t keep up. I can’t even keep up!
I often feel the need to put on a happy face in public because I don’t want my anxiety to run my life–so I pretend it doesn’t. If I’m having a rough day, I try to do anything to make my brain believe I am okay. I don’t want to be sad, in pain, or just feeling down, so I go into distraction mode: what can I watch, listen to, what activities can I throw myself into? This helps me in the moment but it certainly doesn’t mean that I am cured, that my anxiety is gone, that I am a happy person.
Even worse is how this affects how other people see you. If you are smiling, you seem happy, you’re laughing, you’re generally enjoying yourself at family and social gatherings you must be okay. People think this means that you are in a better place mentally and emotionally. But you and I know this isn’t the case. Whether it’s temporary happiness or a facade, anyone struggling knows that their happy face puts others at ease. And maybe that’s part of the reason why we do it. Our family and friends want us to be happy.
I don’t know if I have a point to this post or if I really just wanted to clean out my mind. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel happy, portray happiness, and enjoy yourself regardless of what you’re going through. On the flip side, you also want to feel like your loved ones care for you and that they aren’t taking your happiness as a sign that you are cured. I’m interested in your thoughts on this and how you deal with the balance of feeling happy and sad. My advice to anyone who isn’t struggling is to reach out to your friends no matter how happy they seem. Reach out to your loved ones, speak up when you’re struggling, put up your do not disturb sign and put on a happy face but only if you want to!