I am an Extrovert, and I am Depressed

Saturday, March 18, 2017

I'm the type of person who likes to seem like they have their shit together. I understand on a conceptual level that my happiness matters more than the opinion of others, but I secretly get a smug sense of satisfaction when my external appearance and personality makes it seem like I have my life together more than everyone else. 

The last time I went to the airport, I spent more time thinking about how I could fabulously get through security with an air of grace and style than I did actually packing to leave. I didn't care that I hadn't slept in almost 48 hours, that I should be excited about returning home to see my family but was instead feeling scared and frustrated. All I cared about was turning heads with an awe of "that girl looks flawless in an airport, her life must be so together." 

The truth is, I don't have my life together- at all. But the truth is also that it's all too easy to make it seem like I do. And the validation I feel when another person compliments how amazing my life seems always keeps me from spilling the truth. For my friends living in the states, my life seems like the coolest adventure ever. I live across the ocean in a huge metropolitan city, I go to exclusive events with pretty people, I'm constantly seemingly doing something cool that's helping my career or my status in life. 

And for my friends here in London, it's all too easy to look in my closet and pick out an outfit that's appropriate instead of the trashy jumper I'd rather be wearing. It's part of my day to put on makeup to cover the bags under my eyes, to put my hair up in a cute twist so you can't see that it hasn't been washed in almost a week. It's all too easy to make myself so unbelievably busy that it looks like I'm doing great - I'm happy and involved and engaged with the world. Constantly ignoring that there's a point where being busy is an avoidance mechanism. You can't be depressed if you don't have time to think about being depressed. 

And my personality doesn't help either. I'm an extrovert in the worst way possible. I can hide my depression with my confidence when I speak to others. Hide my exhaustion with my boisterous voice when I'm networking in a room full of people. My personality tells me that the more I fake it till I make it, the happier I'll be when I come out on the other side. I'm constantly telling myself that my depression is fleeting. If I go to one more event, pretend for one more day, maybe tomorrow is the day I'm not pretending anymore. 

And this is not to worry you, this isn't a call for help, I'm aware of my mental health issues and I'm handling them privately. This isn't about social media, this isn't another millennial complaining about society, this isn't about making the world feel #relatable and creating a false sense of togetherness. But this is about the realities we create for ourselves. You never really know what's going through a person's mind. You're never going to feel the way they see the world, you're never going to truly understand someone's demons. But what can we do? We can empathise. We can stop judging. We can stop putting people on pedestals.

Try to keep in mind, extroverts can have depression too. And in my experience, my personality has made it so much easier to hide it. Mental health takes so many different forms, and we have to remember that what's on the surface is almost never what's going on behind the scenes. We have to forgive ourselves and accept that we will never live up to those surface level expectations we place on ourselves. But we must also try to see each other past the facade we wear to mask our demons.
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