When I was a young child I was happy. I know this not from memories, but from old home movies, photo’s and stories told by my older relatives. “Always smiling” “Such a happy child”. These are the words used to describe how I once was. When I interrupt the story to ask what changed they either gloss over it or just simply don’t know. One such relative told me that she did not know what caused my sudden mood change, but she said there was most likely an event or situation that changed the way I saw the world and my place in it.
When I try to look back and remember the happy times I always come up blank. I cant remember being the happy child in the picture of me at the fair with my pretty pink dress, pigtails and giant smile. And if I try to think of what might have happened to change my outlook, I come up with nothing but darkness.
I do remember I had a teacher, when I was about 9, tell me that if I was not happy that I should pretend to be happy and happiness would then follow. Being that she was an authority figure and meant to be wiser in all aspects of life than me, I tried to pretend to be happy. I don’t know if it helped or hurt my situation. I began remembering to smile at others and talk to the other children when they spoke to me. So on the outside I was just like them. But on the inside I was still sad/angry. Which just confused me more. I kept up the happiness charade until I was in high school. The bad feelings I had on the inside had been festering and growing (I was more unhappy then ever) but to look at me I was just like everyone else.
I had friends, went to sleepovers and did “normal” things a girl my age should have been doing. But I felt like an invader in my own body and mind. Doing these things that I didn’t really care for or enjoy and smiling along making everyone else think that everything was fine.
At some point at around the age of 13 I decided that it was just too much effort, so I reverted back to being moody, depressed and anxious. My “friends” didn’t understand the change in my behavior and we drifted apart.
But this is where we get to the part where it is important to always be yourself.
I started to make new friends. Some who understood the way I was either from personal experience or from watching others go through the same thing, and some who had never been exposed to depression/anxiety but liked me for who I was anyway. Most of these friends I still have to this day. (Almost 20 years later)
By being myself, even though that person was not perfect, I became slightly happier and more comfortable in my own skin. I developed real friendships and was able to become the person I am today. I still have a lot to work on but at least I am no longer lying to myself.