“Their personalities aren’t dreary in the slightest. Those with concealed depression are some of the most charismatic people you know and are prone to having a sharp tongue and hyper-creative mind.”From 15 Things You Must Know About People Who Have Concealed Depression
When I read these words recently in this article by Anna Bashkova, a chill of self-realization ran through me. How had I never heard “concealed depression” described in this way before? How did this stranger know me? How had she perfectly described my outward personality back when I very nearly succeeded in ending my life 35 years ago? I didn’t “act depressed” then. Nobody had any idea…until I ended up in a hospital ICU bed with my wrists restrained.
“Their biggest challenge is shutting off their brain. They’re able to process the world around them at rapid-fire speed – the good and the bad. It’s like their brain is a sponge soaking in everything, causing them to be hyper-aware and highly intuitive.”
Yep. Overthinking, on steroids. I can remember the endless, deafening loop of anxious second-guessing, hypercritical self-talk, and negative stories on tape that never turned off. They never stopped. Constant worry, faultfinding, and scathing chatter were agonizing tormenters. At 27, I didn’t feel “sad.” I felt…exhausted. Exhausted by a brain that wouldn’t shut up. Exhausted from continuously swimming against a tide of self-criticism and fear of not measuring up. Exhausted from struggling to stay afloat as relentless waves of doubt tugged me under. Exhausted from faking confidence and strength. Dying was a way to finally rest and be at peace.
I’m a much different person from that 27-year-old woman. At 62, I still overthink everything, but if the voice in my head starts to be an asshole I quickly shut it down. I’ve found delicious freedom and self-confidence in NGAF. There’s joy and contentment in living my life the way I am, and I can honestly say I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Sure, I have times of sadness or disappointment or worry. Of course I do. I also have periods of needing solitude. Does that indicate I’m depressed? Am I concealing depression from myself in midlife?
No, I don’t think so. I do stay aware of and in tune with what I’m feeling. Emotional self-care is vital, especially in times of change. When I traveled around the world by myself, away from family and friends for two-and-a-half months, I made sure soothing self-care was a priority. I know I must do the same when I leave my home to move overseas alone this fall. It will be easy to become overwhelmed. Journaling and writing, gratitude and yoga practice, and lots of time by water and in nature are essential to a self-care routine that I imagine will become even more important as I adjust to being an expat in Portugal.
A lightbulb went off when I read this article. It was like when I learned being an introvert is about where a person gets energy, not about being shy. That put so many pieces of my puzzle in place for me. I shared Bashkova’s article with two close friends. Both of them — one a woman, the other a man — recognized parts of themselves in what they read. Do you?
I wasn’t aware of “concealed depression” as it’s described in the article. But it makes so much sense, and perfectly reflects my experience. It’s an experience I don’t want to conceal…or repeat.
My blog post The Last Place I Ever Thought I’d Be is an account of attempted suicide. I’m honored that it placed in the Top 10 of an international writing contest for creative nonfiction, sponsored by the award-winning WOW! Women on Writing. I’ve never entered a literary writing contest before, and it was a goal I set for my 62nd birthday, one year after becoming a blogger. I’m excited to be part of this group of talented women writers.
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