Detecting the Mask of Depression: Looking Beyond What You See

It seems the stories of depression and suicide among celebrities and other well-notables are increasing each year. When the tragic suicide of  NFL legend Junior Seau occured, his friends and family told media outlets that he did not ‘appear’ to be suffering from depression.


These words are ones that always burden my heart to hear being said by anyone.


As a person who struggled with depression many years ago, I can tell you that the very last thing that someone with depression will do is show it. In fact, oftentimes it is the ones who ‘appear’ to have it all together–who ‘appear’ to be the happiest and full of life and light—that are secretly battling some form of the disorder be it mild, moderate, or severe. Have you heard the saying, “On the outside I’m smiling, but on the inside I’m crying?” That is usually the case with depression sufferers.


Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that every single happy and smiling person that you meet is depressed—what I am saying is that with those who struggle with it, the number-one priority for them is to conceal it as best as possible from the rest of the world. And not only can this make detection by others very difficult, but it can also fuel the sufferer’s state of denial that they indeed have a serious problem.


During the time of my depression, even those in my home had no indication of what I was truly feeling inside. I never fully let on to it, never told anyone about it. Around others I was my usual happy and joyful self. Correction: I was happy and joyful to a more elevated level to overcompensate for the fact that I was unhappy, hurting, and borderline suicidal. Even as I would mistakenly drop subtle hints during conversations, because of how I said it, no one ever thought to take my statements to heart.


I believe what is happening is as our world becomes more fogged with an overload of things to keep our attention (social media, games, television, events etc.), as a society we are shifting our focus further and further away from our friends and loved ones more than ever before. We don’t “check-in” on each other like we used to; don’t spend enough undivided, face-to-face time with one another to be attentive enough to immediately be able to sense when someone is not at their usual behavior, even if the action is something very slight. We have become such masters at paying great attention to things that along the way we have forgotten how to pay close attention to people.


My point is this: it is extremely important that we start to make more conscious efforts to rediscover the ‘personal’ in personal relationships. Taking the time and care needed to really look beyond the surface of a person’s life status and actions, and becoming more aware when words are spoken that may be of concern when taken out of a joking-like context are the keys to getting depression sufferers the assistance that they need before it’s too late.


I want to give a personal message to everyone who is currently suffering from depression of any level—A life lesson that I learned at the height of my ordeal that proved to be very valuable:


Contrary to belief, the main thing that drives a person to commit suicide is not their thoughts about their life’s current condition, but it is far more the mindset of: “There is no way that my life will ever get any better than what it is right now.If you find yourself reaching an extreme, I want you to remember the following:


**If you take your life, then you cheat the future out of its chance to prove to you that you are wrong.**


Keep this old saying in mind, and repeat it to yourself whenever you need it:

“I believe that I’ll run on—and see what the end’s gonna be.”



There is hope available to resolve depression, but only if everyone takes the time to look beyond what they see.




If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, I strongly encourage you to please seek help. Here are some professional resources:

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)


American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 


American Psychiatric Association


American Psychological Association


Center for Mental Health Services


National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)



Makeba Giles is the author and creative director of MELISASource.com, an inspirational blog featuring articles of motivation and empowerment inspired by current events and real life.
8 Comments on this post.

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  • Robbyne
    11 October 2012 at 10:54 am - Reply

    Makeba I can’t stop crying reading this. Awesome,powerful words.

    • MELISASource
      12 October 2012 at 4:32 pm - Reply

      Greetings Robbyne! Thank you for sharing here with me and letting me know how this post has touched you — I truly appreciate it. :)

  • Deeone Higgs
    8 May 2012 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    Powerful article, Makeba! I believe this is one of your best yet; and if not best, it’s definitely going down as one of my faves! I think that enough people don’t realize how many people around them suffer from some form of depression. Most people think that everyone that may be dealing with it would show signs that they are depressed. I’m glad that you included ‘the idea of all depressed people being sad is false’, in this post. I missed many signs with my mother. I learned just before she passed away that she suffered from stage 4 depression, and if you were to have known her, you’d probably think the doctor had no clue of what he was talking about. I know I did.

    I mean, she was the most energetic person that I knew, who took absolutely nothing off of anyone… she was certainly no push over, by any stretch of the imagination. She made people smile and laugh, but she wasn’t afraid to put someone in their place either. If sadness is what people are looking for in depressed people, then I hope they heed this article and start looking for more definite symptoms. Thank you for sharing such a helpful and insightful post as this. Blessings.
    Deeone Higgs latest inspiration..Living on PurposeMy Profile

    • MELISASource
      11 May 2012 at 2:55 pm - Reply

      Greetings: Thank you so much Deeone! This is a subject that touches my heart because it is one of those things that, most the most part can be minimized or even eliminated altogether with the proper care, attention and treatment. I can truly relate to what you’re saying about your mother because I had a similar situation with a dear family member of mine years ago. I was too young to understand it at the time, but now knowing what was happening with them it breaks my heart to know that the progression of her depression and her passing could have possibly been avoided. -And she was “the light” of the family: the most happiest and cheerful person whenever she was around others. I agree that I hope that people begin to realize that a person’s emotional well-being cannot be judged by a smile or a laugh, or even their life status. As a society, if we want to put an end to tragedies due to depression, we need to start digging a little deeper.

      Thank you so much for sharing here with me, my friend–it means a lot to me! :)

  • Val Boaten (@kaicongroup)
    8 May 2012 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    Very good post and thank you so much for your transparency. I think in our society we neglect our mental health as taboo. This is again proof that we have to take care of ourselves in body, mind and spirit. Blessings!
    Val Boaten (@kaicongroup) latest inspiration..Way To Go Sara Blakely! (The Spanx Story)My Profile

    • MELISASource
      11 May 2012 at 2:44 pm - Reply

      Greetings: I totally agree that our society does not shine a light on the subject of mental health nearly as much as it should. And yes it is very important for us to take as best care of ourselves as we can, as well as see to it that our friends and loved ones are doing the same. I truly appreciate you sharing here with me–thank you for your kind words! :)

  • Latehsa
    4 May 2012 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    Great article! As a person who is studying for her LPC, in order to become a therapist. I truely enjoyed the fact that you put a human face to depression. Depression is a epidemic that we take for lightly sometimes until it slaps us in the face. Depression is not a black, white, rich, poor, young, old disease. It is an everybody from all walks of life disease. We have to be proactive we this fight. Especially now in a time when it is becoming more and more prevalent because of the economic state of our world. I can talk about this subject all night but I am going to stop here. I love the fact that you added informational sites. You may also want to add the ACA American Counsrling Assocation.Thanks again for a great post.

    • MELISASource
      8 May 2012 at 10:55 am - Reply

      Greetings: You brought up a great point–many people do not think of depression as being real until there is a ‘face’ attached to it. Even then, the thoughts of not ‘appearing‘ to suffer with depression rings in people’s minds. You are right that it is a disorder that affects all facets and cultures of life, and we as a world really must do more to not only bring more awareness to it on a global level, but also work harder to detect its presence in our own communities. And thank you for letting me know about the ACA — I will certainly add them on too.

      Thank you so very much for sharing here with me! I truly appreciate it! :)


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