Depression or Suppression? Where Do The Silent Screams Go?
I often feel like there should be a room, a safe place, where the broken people can go when it's all too much. Where we can just fall apart. Burst at the seams. No questions, no judgements, just a place to be. A place to breathe. Afterwards, we can leave, quietly, stealth like. Slipping away back to our perfectly, imperfect realities.
Instead, most of us swallow down the silent screams and just carry on. It's not conducive to a picture perfect personal or professional life to have a raging meltdown.
For all of the openness that today's social media adept society professes to embrace, there is still a taboo on depression and it's close relatives, despondency and fear.
How much does suppression support depression?
Memes that scream 'Be Grateful' make regular appearances on my Facebook feed. Sometimes they help. Sometimes not. At times it feels as though this is the 'sweeping under the carpet' equivalent of the digital age.
Instead of accepting that on some days life just feels too damn tough, we desperately want to present a perfect, far more pleasing, portrait. We want to take the raging storm in our head and package it so beautifully that nobody will ever have a single iota that havoc wreaks within.
Present the perfect parcel! Tie it all together nicely. Tidily! With precision. The paper must be smoothed down and the ribbon must be a perfect bow. Because then nobody will know that the shiny package contains a ball of fears and f*cked up thoughts. So, smooth the edges down! For the love of all that matters, smooth, smooth, smooth!
Yet, as much as the confines of the shiny packaging restrict us, they can also reassure us. Even when we know it's a temporary measure, at least it's a measure. The illusion of control offers a degree of comfort. Temporarily, maybe, but perhaps it's enough to get us through another day. We survive the hours. We stay afloat.
The bigger problem can happen if we never allow our true feelings to come to the surface, if we constantly push down the feelings that are desperate to be acknowledged. The truth is that they need to be felt. They need to be counted, to know that they, too, matter.
Imagine the most beautiful painting you've seen. One that makes your breath catch in your throat when you look at it, when you truly see it. The chances are that the painting won't be a singular tone or a flat landscape. It is more likely to be a beautiful blend of colour and texture, a creative arrangement of emotion and feeling.
It almost certainly won't be a shiny parcel with a perfect bow.
Why, then, do we wish to showcase our lives as anything less than the rich tapestry of truth that they actually are?
Some days I wake up and I feel pretty damn awesome. And some days I don't. When I'm experiencing a darker day I don't always want to 'snap out of it'. I don't always want to read a Rumi quote that offers insight and wisdom. I just want to be. And on the really dark days I just want to let myself fall apart a little bit, to unravel, to let myself come undone. It's a cathartic process. I want to honour it.
Balance is key. I don't want to spend every day unravelling, far from it. But I do want to know that I'm taking the time I need, and deserve, to just sit with how I feel. To let the hurt colours be a part of my painting, too. Their depth is necessary.
Life can't always be dancing unicorns in fields of happy.
It doesn't have to be a 'bad' day or a 'bad' moment. Just a real one. When we fixate on labels we limit ourselves. We also invite guilt and self loathing through the door because we then reinforce the falsehood that we are somehow operating below an acceptable par.
Resist the temptation to suppress any emotion that wants to be felt. Not everything has to be fixed. Let every difficult moment have a place where it can breathe without restriction. Unaltered. Unchanged.
Be grateful whenever you can. And on the days that you can't, be honest with yourself and the rest of the world.
Photo credit: Catastrophic Plan