Did you ever look at another person closely and wonder what’s hiding behind their smile? Are they creating a fictitious persona whose purpose is simply to conceal their mental struggles?
Does seeing that smile – the universal expression for joy, pleasure, excitement, satisfaction, and many others – cause you to perhaps inaccurately deduce that this person is void of life’s challenges and un-wanting of a kind word or a dose of unsolicited compassion?
In a way, we’re all nothing more than actors in a play. Settings and circumstances vary from one scene to another, and therefore we must conform to specific roles we’re expected to portray either by society, co-workers, spouses, friends, or even ourselves.
Frequently the motivation for such scenes is simple – smile, smile, smile! Never let the world see how you’re feeling on the inside. Your mental struggles.
Sadly, that is the space many of us occupy.
The persona we share with the world so often conceals the internal suffering we’re experiencing while sparing those around us the uncomfortableness of talking about how we’re lost, struggling, and broken.
Talking about mental struggles is frowned upon in our society, which is undoubtedly why so many of us hide behind one smile after another.
It protects us from dealing with feelings of shame and embarrassment or the notion that you can simply rid yourself of feeling despondent as quickly as choosing a new flavor of ice cream.
It takes incredible courage to open up and share your internal mental struggles – even with those closest to you. That some days you search for a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and your list comes up short more often than it should.
That sometimes, you find yourself crying alone in your car as you drive home from work and aren’t entirely sure what it is you’re crying about.
That you question – more than you’d like to admit – whether anyone would even notice your absence if you left your place in this world tomorrow.
It’s time to stop smiling, to be honest with those around us, and, most of all, with ourselves. Our mental struggles do not make us weak, unlovable, or unworthy of a life filled with fulfillment and promise. What they do make us is human.
There are many options out there to help treat mental struggles, and I’m not here to tell you which one might work best for you.
I am here to encourage you to admit to yourself that you need help and seek out the most beneficial source for your struggles.
I stopped smiling the other day and finally admitted that help is available, but it’s up to me to take it. Know that even when it might feel like it, you’re not alone in your struggles or your journey. But only you can help yourself by getting started.