Thursday, August 14, 2014

Behind the Smile

I imagine you were as devastated Monday as I was when you heard of Robin Williams' death. So many thoughts running through my head. Questions. Memories. More questions.
I didn't know Mr. Williams had battled depression. I mean, who woulda thunk it? He was always smiling, laughing, being fun and funny. How could there be a depressed bone in his body?

I thought about all the times I have laughed at his comedic acts - starting way-back-when in the days of Mork and Mindy. When a movie came out in which he was starring, I almost always went to see it. Because I knew he would have me laughing and feeling good. He as just that kind of guy. Happy, laughing, and fun to be around. I never would have suspected he suffered with depression.
After some more thought I realized - a smile can be a very convincing mask.
I mean, look at this one:
This picture was taken at our Christmas gathering in 2010. I spent the majority of that day exiting the room to go cry where no one could see me. I was such a stinkin' mess!
But when it was time for the annual family photo, I dug down somewhere deep inside and pulled out the best smile I could muster at the moment. Just to make it look on the outside like everything was OK on the inside.
And there's this one, from a few days later. Another family gathering. Another opportunity to smile for the camera so everything "looks" OK.
But, I'm telling you, the girl behind the smile was not OK.
I am so very thankful for the people who loved me enough to push me to get the help I needed. So thankful I am not living under the cloud of depression now like I was then.

Robin Williams' death is a tragedy. To be sure. However, my hope is that as result of learning about his struggle, people will be more willing to address the reality of depression. Just because a person wears a beautiful smile doesn't mean he or she isn't hurting.

If you are struggling and would like to talk further about depression - but don't feel comfortable leaving a comment, please feel free to send me an email.



Anonymous said...

I love it! Love you! ----Heaven M.

Kaira said...

I think wearing the mask, though sometimes necessary, puts a wall between people who love each other. When we are together I'd rather know you are sad than have you paste on a fake smile. Okay?

I love you.

Karen Hossink said...

Heaven - I love you, too!

Kaira - I am pretty much past wearing a mask these days. Thanks for permission to be real.
I love you, too.