Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking.
When there are clouds in the sky
you’ll get by.
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through
Light up your face with gladness,
Hide every trace of sadness.
Although a tear may be ever so near
Have you heard that song? Smile – Charlie Chaplin? I think it’s a great song really. So simplistic, so calm and yet with such a powerful meaning. No matter how dark the night gets, no matter how much pressure is caving in around you, if you smile then you can get through. You can get through. So smile.
I’ve had it said before that I’m someone people would not expect to be depressed. Why? Quite simply, because I’m almost always smiling or laughing or joking. Really, I am! I know some of these posts might not come across in that way but at uni I was always known as the one who told the awful jokes. In fact, my uni friends coined the term “A Cinders Joke” to describe my humour. (Yes, my nickname was Cinders, only because I liked the song Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman!) Still, that should give you a pretty good idea of what kind of personality I am.
Except…a lot of it is forced.
It’s one thing I’m oddly proud of. My mask is that flawless and that honed that people don’t know that they’re looking at a mask. Well, until they know to look for it, that is. I smile, I laugh, I joke, I poke fun at people and everyone buys it. Why? Because it’s practised.
You see, smiling is one of the biggest tools that we, as depressed people, have. It disarms people, giving them the excuse they need to think we’re OK. Sometimes they know something’s not right but the smile is reason enough not to ask us. Sometimes they actually do buy it and believe that we are doing alright.
So I smile.
Fool You Once
Recently on our Twitter account, I came across a photo someone had posted where they were smiling, yet had still put the hashtag #depression in there. When I commented on this, their response was that they do their best to smile so people leave them alone. You know what? That’s true. Sometimes we know we’re on a bad day so we smile in the hopes that people don’t ask us about it. Although talking about it is supposed to help, not everyone is understanding, not everyone will be caring. We smile to deflect it.
It fools people. But there’s more to it.
Sometimes it can fool me too…
It sounds weird, I know, but if I can convince you that everything is fine, that I’m not either breaking or close to breaking inside, then I stand a chance of convincing myself. Maybe I’m not quite as bad as I think I am. If I was, people would say something, no? Surely they would.
Or so you’d think…
Fool You Twice
Sometimes it works, though. A simple smile to deflect the questions people will ask, to convince them that I’m fine, is able to convince me. Granted, it doesn’t always work but sometimes…sometimes I can find that hope.
So I smile. To fool you, to attempt to fool myself, to put that image of “OKness” out there. It’s my biggest weapon for fighting depression and fighting the stigma attached to it. It’s the best way to shut down any unwanted questions. If anything, it’s one of the most successful ways.
So I smile.
Shame On You
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
How many times have I fooled you with a smile? How many times have others fooled you? My challenge for you is to look deeper the next time someone you know smiles at you. With life as rubbish and difficult as it can be, chances are they’re putting on a mask, the same way I do. Look deeper, beyond what you see on the surface, to see if there is hidden pain or brokenness underneath. If there is, help them.
Don’t let them fool you twice to shame you!
As for me, though…I’m still gonna keep that mask handy.
Because I smile.
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