“How are you? Really?” This is my mum’s standard line of questioning any time I dye my hair darker. In her mind, darker hair equals darker mood. She’s on to something, but in my case, she has it backwards. She shouldn’t worry that I’ve “moved over to the dark side” when I, well, move over to the dark side. What’s really cause for concern is when I dye my hair blonde.
I’m best at hiding my depression when I’m blonde.
When I’m brunette, I feel authentic. I literally let a little more of my darker side show.
When I’m blonde, I’m a fraud. Trying too hard. I’m bubbly, social and easy to get along with. It’s an artificial light, in every sense. When I’m blonde, I’m the face of smiling depression.
What is smiling depression?
It’s appearing happy to others and smiling through the pain, keeping the inner turmoil hidden. It’s a major depressive disorder with atypical symptoms, and as a result, many don’t know they’re depressed or don’t seek help. Those who do would prefer to keep their struggle private.
People with smiling depression are often partnered or married, employed and are quite accomplished and educated. They’ve usually struggled with depression and/or debilitating anxiety for years and have had some experience with therapy or medication.
Many who know they are depressed don’t disclose it due to fear of discrimination from loved ones or employers. Their public, professional and social lives are not suffering. Their façade is put together and accomplished. But behind the mask and behind closed doors, their minds are filled with thoughts of worthlessness, inadequacy and despair.
The image many of us have of depression is inaccurate and incomplete.