Among the many misconceptions regarding depression, the most dangerous is the widely held belief that if someone looks fine, then they are fine.
The truth is – those who are battling depression are the greatest method actors of our time; living every second of every day via a persona created with the sole intention of fooling the entire world.
Their eyes peer through the mask, trying not to betray the pain and the loneliness that is burning inside. Occasionally the mask slips, and for a brief moment their true self appears – yet who is there to witness it?
This fleeting glimpse of sadness and despair disappears into the wind. Will there be another opening? Will anyone even notice if there is?
This is the virtual prison that many of us are locked within – we can look through the bars and even reach out from time to time but try as might, we cannot seem to grab anyone’s attention.
We’re a ghost without a chain to rattle; haunting our own minds, waiting for an exorcist of some form to release us from our own personal hell.
Yes, it may look like my life is in order but if only you knew how I really felt…
Lonely and alone are completely different
To most ordinary people, the word ‘lonely’ indicates that someone is devoid of human contact or is somehow strange or ‘different’. Surely it’s unfathomable for your best friend or partner to feel lonely, especially when they are surrounded by love and affection… but yet, the world isn’t black and white.
The person with whom you feel closest to in life could be entering a darkness that is beyond your wildest comprehension.
This person could be extremely happy with their life. Alternatively, they could be on the verge of suicide. Recently, a former band mate of mine took his own life and while I hadn’t spoken to him in several years, those who knew him well had no idea he about to do something so horrific.
In 2011, Welsh footballer Gary Speed took his own life just hours following this TV appearance. Watch this clip and tell me if you can see any warning signs…
This isn’t scare mongering, this is reality. Of course, most people who truly feel alone don’t think about harming themselves, but that doesn’t reduce the seriousness of their plight. These people are so good at hiding their true feelings that it becomes impossible for anyone to read their emotions.
But there are always signs. The mask slips occasionally. You may not even consciously recognise them but over time there could be a nagging feeling that something isn’t quite right.
Go with your instincts.
Ask someone if they feel ok. Tell them that you’re always there should they require your help. Pride gets in the way, it always does – but this is a lifeline, an opportunity for them to reach out if they need you in the future.
In society, mental health is still seen as a taboo subject and millions of people refuse to acknowledge they even have a problem, let alone admitting it to someone else. But it doesn’t matter, offer that support anyway, it could make a huge difference.
Being alone doesn’t mean you’re lonely. Likewise, and more importantly, you can feel lonely without being alone. The two can be mutually exclusive.
We all need to remember this.
What about you?
Are you part of a vibrant social circle and surround yourself with countless friends but still feel like an outsider?
Do you put on a brave face and pretend that your life is rosy when inside you are desperate for change?
Do you feel envious when you look at everyone else and how perfect their lives seem to be?
Are you desperate for someone to ask if you’re ok just as an excuse to connect?
There’s nothing more frustrating than being in a social situation yet feeling like you’re completely disconnected from reality. I could sit here and reel off a million and one reasons as to why this may be the case but the truth is we are all different and no two bouts of depression or loneliness are the same.
The glue that binds everything together is the overwhelming belief that we are in this alone. This is not the truth, this is a warped perception based on our response to the things we pick out to support our own belief system.
Human beings are abysmal at viewing the world with an unbiased eye. Once we have a theory, we will seek out evidence to support it and disregard everything else. For example, have you found yourself thinking about someone only for them to suddenly ring you? Of course, I’m sure this has happened to everyone at some point.
It’s extremely common for people to attach some sort of significance to this event but what about the 500 other occasions when you have thought about someone and they haven’t called?
Our perception of reality is like this. The religious will ignore the science that contradicts their faith. The jealous wife who believes her husband is cheating will attach significance to every late journey home or weekend away. The lonely individual will interpret every minute of silence as a lifetime of indifference.
This wall that you put in front of yourself is entirely self-imposed. A barrier to protect yourself from the pain, but in reality it just reinforces the negative opinions you already have about the world around you.
I’m just here to tell you that feeling depressed or lonely is natural and your negative perception of the world is just that, a perception. Everywhere you look there are people who give a shit, so allow them to do so. They aren’t psychic and because you’re so good at hiding your true feelings, they may never know without your help.
Say something, anything.
Stop reaching through those bars in a quest for attention and unlock that self-imposed door instead.
You’re not lonely – you just think you are.
Take a chance on someone, they may just surprise you.
Are you someone who has felt detached from the world at some point? How did you break free? Do you find it hard to tell others how you are feeling inside? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Also please share this article via your social media and help raise awareness of depression and loneliness in general.
Thanks for this article man. It can be tough sometimes, but it’s really important to speak up.
I think people who post several “emo” status updates, thinking it’s cool to look depressed and whatnot, are really the annoying ones. The truly depressed are usually the ones you don’t even have any idea that they are, and that is why it’s so dangerous for these people. Nobody knows, that’s scary.
And speaking of confirmation bias. Humans are generally wired like this, but it’s important to be aware of such a thing, so you can actually do something about it should it get out of hand. I know people who are hopeless victims of this.
Jeremy recently posted..5 Jim Rohn Quotes That Will Change Your Life
Exactly, Jeremy. Many of those who are struggling will be people whom you will never suspect. That’s why it’s important to detect any subtle changes in personality, both negative, and positive. For each carry a warning.
I used to struggle with this. A lot. Funnily enough, now I’m less lonely and more alone (after I completely neglected my social life ever since I came back to Norway.) Although there are times when I feel like I should probably make some friends, I have rationalized it for so long that it started to make sense to me, haha. Ah, the joys of the human brain, always striving to trick itself in one way or the other!
Either way, soon enough I’ll have no excuses and a golden opportunity to meet as many new people as I could ever want to.
Ragnar recently posted..Give Yourself The Chance You Need To Succeed
Interesting stuff. What is this golden opportunity you speak of? I seem to have missed something here.. unless I have read it and completely forgotten..
I think I managed to edit it out! I am going to be travelling for a few months, starting with the first leg of the journey Thailand, leaving next month. If everything works out as planned, and I make enough money online to fund perpetual travel, and I actually like it, I will travel slowly through countries with low costs of living this year and the next, possibly staying in one city for a month at a time or so. That is the plan right now although things might turn out differently. Either way, it’s a welcome change and will leave me with no excuses to not be meeting new people. Although much of it will probably be short-lived it’s a good opportunity to start trying new things and meet new people.
Ragnar recently posted..Give Yourself The Chance You Need To Succeed
That’s awesome. If I can offer a bit of advice it’s to spend longer than a month in certain places. Maybe 3/4 months visiting 3/4 places and then stay in one place for 6 months to learn about the culture, the language and to experience the country as a real resident, not just a passer by. I look forward to hearing about it. I envy you!
Coincidentally I found this article browsing at my mail.. It’s been a while that I’m struggling with depression/loneliness .. like you say in your article, I’m the guy surrounded by amazing people including my family.. but even that doesn’t help me to connect and reach them. Depression is a b***tch. Really affects my routine.
I’ve just broke up a relationship because I needed a time to heal, by myself..even when my girlfriend told me that we could get through together.Bad idea.
Now she’s dating someone , and that really hurt.
Beside all that, I’m feeling a little more optimistic .. some professional opportunities are giving me strength to fight the negative thoughts and helping me to socialize more often. It’s even more difficult when you are an introvert, like me.
Thanks for the article.. it came at the right moment.
If you broke up your relationship then it’s safe to say you had your reasons, so don’t second guess yourself. It’s natural to do so. Being an introvert is a blessing in disguise I find. You will pick and choose your interactions with more clarity and you won’t get bogged down with mindless mental stimulation.
Keep at it and you will ride this out.
Great thoughts Jamie!
I’ve worked with youth for over 8 years and have learned how to spot some of the signs of depression (though it can be impossible or difficult to spot). Exposing our depression to a trusted person can allow it to ease a little and is a good starting place to manage it. However, those who are depressed find it very difficult to share it to someone. Thank you for sharing about this topic.
Thanks Dan! You’re right, even with a trained eye it can be difficult to spot. Usually it’s only when the person in question decides to reveal it that we actually know for sure. We need to go with our instincts though.. if we get a feeling something is up, we should keep a close eye on that person. Thanks for your thoughts.
This is the story of my life man…
The reason why I do the things I do is because I’m “depressed”, it is because I’m detached from reality… My friends and family think I’m crazy but in a good way because I always joke about, I think…
But, yea, I always feel detached from any social situation. I don’t like to put a front and be fake though, although I do in the form of, “messing with people’s heads just for fun” but I just isolate myself to not deal with anyone.
Weird stuff man. But I’ve read that most people who made history in this world went through the same thing so… oh well.
SEBASTIAN recently posted..Can Life Be Harder?
Can relate to this with social anxiety. You’re right sometimes you don’t notice on the surface. But deeper there are probably some type of non-verbal clues. While there is no foolproof way to detect this depression some day to day habits that are odd are a start. Some want to talk and some don’t. Thanks for bringing this topic into discussion.
Albert recently posted..What reflection taught Me
You’re absolutely right, Albert. Thanks for your comment.