I’ve always been a smiley person. My mom likes to point this out everytime we look at photo albums. It’s a trait that I quite like about myself, my ease to smile. I think it’s something that makes people feel better and a way for me to communicate without words.
People usually describe me as a happy, positive person because of it. I think it’s pretty true, I like to see the positive and good in every thing because otherwise it all gets a bit too dark for my liking.
I wear makeup most days because I love it, because it makes me feel better about myself, more confidence and it’s a creative outlet for me, creating a look everyday.
But does it mean that all is pink, unicorns and rainbows in my life? Does it mean that I’m always happy, content and positive? Hell no.
What people don’t know, or haven’t noticed was that I also grew up with anxiety, spots of depression, an amount of self-doubt that could fill a small country and a ton of comparison issues.
But because I smiled through it, people didn’t see it, or worse, believed it.
I guess me smiling through it all was a way to pretend that all was good and fine and also to push it all away, hidden under a smile and a laugh, ready to take over when no one was looking again.
It’s always a shock when I tell people that I suffer from anxiety. The first thing they tell me is “I would never have guessed, it doesn’t show” which always frustrates me a lot. I’ve been taught not to judge a book by its cover, not to assume things about people because you never know what goes on in their personal life so when people assume that because I get dressed, put makeup on and smile politely everything is fine, it becomes a problem.
The thing is, mental health is not physical in the sense that it doesn’t show from the outside. It’s not an arm in a cast, not a leg missing, a surgery scar. It’s something hidden, which symptoms you have to pay attention to, to actually see them.
When you suffer from mental health issues, you struggle with the fact that people think you are fine because they assume that to be really feeling bad, you have to look bad. If you see someone struggling whilst walking with crutches, you can see they are having issues and will be inclined to help them with their bag, get up a flight of stairs or any way possible. But when you see someone out and about, wearing a normal outfit, makeup, going about their day, most people presume that they are doing good.
You won’t assume that it as taken them an hour to physically leave the house because they were so anxious about going out, being surrounded by people.
You won’t see that they are on the verge of a panic attack because the train is packed and they really want to leave now but have to fight back the urge to run away.
You won’t see that this person is struggling with depression and needs help getting out of that darkness.
You won’t see that they are struggling with an eating disorder and need help.
You don’t see so many things about what goes on in their mind, what they struggle with everyday.
Why? Because they look just fine physically. You cannot tell that they are in a lot of pain, mentally.
So let’s all be more aware of this, of how looks can often deceive and hide what really goes on on the inside. Let’s all pay more attention to the people who don’t look “the type” and really ask “are you really okay? how can I help?”.
Mental health is too important to be undermined by how a person presents themselves.