A loved one who was feeling depressed recently blamed me, in part, for her state.
The reason? My happy, positive attitude (on Facebook – the husband who lives with me would wonder who she was talking about in real life).
That and my generally busy life were making her feel like a failure.
I was quick to point out to her that things aren’t always as rosy or as happy as they seem.
EVERYONE HAS ISSUES
I am constantly battling a confidence crisis.
I’m short, weight challenged, menopausal and easily hurt.
I have issues with family members that cause a lot of stress.
There have been some health scares and some unwelcome physical pain and I often feel unloved and undervalued.
Just like everyone else, right? Well, maybe not the short and menopausal bit, but really, we all have our issues, don’t we?
I choose not to share mine unless necessary for some reason, like now for this article.
Others like to regularly vent. Whatever gets us through I say.
Recently I asked a group of friends to participate in a project I was doing and was devastated by the lack of response.
THE COST OF PUTTING ON A HAPPY FACE(BOOK)
When I shared this latest my dear loved one said my friends probably didn’t respond because they assumed I had so many others to call on. After all, I was living the dream life, according to my Facebook page, and didn’t need anything or anyone to be happy.
It’s no secret that social media and depression have been linked. Numerous studies have centred on what is often referred to as social media depression.
However, my loved one went on to say it wasn’t just my happy social media status that made her feel like she was failing.
Even our phone conversations gave her the sense I led a charmed life.
I was beginning to wonder if I should cry in order to make her feel better.
CAN YOU BE GUILTY OF NOT SHARING MISERY?
It got me thinking about that very famous Australian case of the dingo that stole the baby back in 1980.
Baby Azaria’s mother, Lindy Chamberlain, was convicted of killing her own child and sentenced to life imprisonment. Her husband Michael was convicted of being an accessory after the fact and put on a bond.
Lindy served three years in prison before new evidence was found, prompting the Northern Territory government to release her and order a royal commission into the affair.
After living with 32 years of speculation and innuendo, the Chamberlain family were exonerated when the Darwin Magistrate’s Court finally made an official verdict that a dingo had taken Azaria.
In subsequent stories about what led to Lindy’s initial conviction, one of the reasons given for her guilty verdict was her lack of emotion.
She refused to show her grief to the public and, therefore, appeared cold – cold enough to kill her own child.
Portrayed by Meryl Streep in the 1988 movie Evil Angels, also known as A Cry in the Dark, Lindy’s character is told by her legal team to show more emotion, not ask too many questions; “don’t talk like you normally talk”.
To all the advice, she says, “Well, I can’t cry to order”.
I’m not suggesting the happy life I portray could send me to jail, but maybe to Coventry.
If my loved one’s words were true, and friends were under the impression I no longer needed them as my life was so fulfilled, did I need to confide my problems?
CAN TRYING TO SPREAD JOY END UP ISOLATING YOU?
Does that mean we have to bare our soul and our sadness to all in order to be thought of, acknowledged, and validated by others?
My happy demeanour has more to do with the responsibility I feel to spread joy and not misery, than anything else. This is as much for me as for those around me.
I try not to come off as bragging – well, except when I’m speaking about the Goddesses but that’s what grandmothers are supposed to do.
Focusing on the negative only serves to give it power so I try to turn things around with a positive spin.
Take my grateful diary for example. When I’m unhappy with my weight I try to remember how lucky I am not to be starving.
When I awake at 5 am after barely any sleep, I listen to the birds and try to immerse myself in their happy chirping and feel grateful I’m hearing the world wake up.
This doesn’t always work. There are times that stress and pain – both physical and emotional – take over. At those times, I prefer to stay quiet and work my way through, sharing only when the load becomes too heavy and even then, with only a few.
WHY SAD IS SOMETIMES GOOD
My loved one then told me she wished my life was all the good it appeared to be and I told her I was glad it wasn’t.
We need the dark to appreciate the light, the rain to appreciate the sunshine and life’s trials to help us grow.
If my life were the perfect picture I often show the outside world then it wouldn’t be real. None of us gets off scot-free – we all have our burdens, our insecurities, our pain.
I understand this when I read the wonders of someone’s awesome trip, their fabulous family reunion, their 100,000 subscribers. This is only ever part of the story – the part they choose to share.
On the occasion I allow myself to get taken away and I start to compare (having only seen the sliver of life being shared) I too can become depressed and insecure. Especially if I’m not happy with myself at the time.
When I catch myself doing this I remind myself “I am not seeing things as they are, I am seeing things as I am”.
How are you seeing things today? Please leave a comment below.
Wishing you a gleeful week, Tamuria.