Yet I feel a strange conflicting pressure. On the one hand, I feel like I need to engage in a sort of relentless performative sadness to be taken seriously, for people to understand that I really am depressed and that each day – each moment of each day – is a struggle for me, that even when I am happy, I am still fighting the monster. I feel like I need to darken everything around me, to stop communicating with the world, to stop publishing anything, to just stop. Because that way I will appear suitably, certifiably sad, and thus, depressed – and then maybe people will recognise that I’m depressed and perhaps they’ll even offer support and assistance. The jokes die in my throat, the smile never reaches my lips, I don’t share that moment of happiness on the beach by turning to my friend and expressing joy....
I don’t, in other words, do the things that can help ameliorate depression, encourage people to reach out, and help depressed people with functioning, completing daily tasks of life, and finding a reason to live again. I don’t find and build a rich community of people who can offer support (and whom I can support in turn), because I have to be so wrapped up in performing my sadness at all times to prove that I’m depressed enough – even as I want to scream that this is a reinforcement of stereotypes that hurt people, that by doing this I am hurting not just myself but others.
On the other, I feel an extreme pressure to perform just the opposite, because sad depressed people are boring and no fun, as I am continually reminded every time I speak openly about depression or express feelings of sadness and frustration. I’m caught in a trap where if I don’t perform sadness, I’m not really depressed, but if I express sadness at all to any degree, I’m annoying and boring and should stop being so self-centred. Thus I’m effectively pushed into fronting, putting a face on it even when I am depressed and deeply sad – when I feel like I am choking on my own misery, I put up a cheeky Tweet. When I hate myself and I want to die, I post a link to something fun, or I write up something silly to run somewhere – even though as I write it, I am drawn deeper and deeper into my unhappiness.Above all the writer makes the point that even when suffering depression there are bright moments of joy. Depression is not a constant. It has its ups and downs.