And the Oscar for Best Actress goes to…..
How many of us have ever stood in front of a mirror and pretended to have been that actress? I remember doing that often as a little girl. I’m not a little girl any more, but I have played that actress role many times.
Many people that know me have at one time or another said something to the effect of, “You have a beautiful smile,” or “Your smile is infectious.” I do admit that I love to smile. I smile at strangers on the sidewalk as easily as I smile at my friends, but like a clown that smile is oftentimes painted on.
I had my first bout of depression 5 years ago after I filed for divorce. I had been carrying too much for far too long. I was always known as the one who could hold everything together while everybody else was falling apart. I was the one consoling my friends, lending a listening ear, or giving my shoulder to cry on. Many times I’d say, “Call me if you need anything!” Rarely did I ever call anyone when I was having a problem. Part of my hesitation had to do with not wanting to bother anybody else; part of it had to do with not wanting to appear weak. After all, my friends and family needed me! Unfortunately, that was a recipe for disaster.
My initial struggle with depression caught me by surprise mainly because I had never experienced such a condition before. I had read about it many times and even watched my own mother suffer through it, but that did not prepare me for what I was about to experience.
Spiritually speaking, I consider myself to be a spiritual person. Notice I said spiritual, not perfect. Behind my smile I have secrets that would probably knock the socks off people close to me. Nonetheless, I try to live my life in accordance to God’s ways as best as I can and thanks to His mercy and grace I am saved. I am a firm believer that a relationship with my Lord and Savior should suffice, but depression is a disease that sometimes robs you of that joy.
Intellectually speaking, I am fully aware that I have much to be thankful for. I have goals and dreams. I continue to hold out hope for the elusive love of my life. I have my faith, I have two wonderful children, and I have a good job. I have good health, I am intelligent, and I love to help others. I love to travel, I like to learn new things, and I love to observe nature. I like doing all those things and more, yet I feel empty much of the time.
I don’t know that I can truly explain what that emptiness feels like. I suppose I could try my best to describe it, but how do you describe something that’s not there? It’s like not being able to laugh at a joke, or smile when you see a child at play. It’s a void, a feeling of uncertainty. Or perhaps it’s not a feeling at all, but the inability to feel. It’s the absence of joy, the absence of anger, yet the presence of sadness.
I have faith in God that as I did once before, I will rise above this tide. One day soon I will wake up and realize that I am smiling back at the mirror with a radiant, genuine smile. Until then, I will continue my path on this journey. I will continue to play the role that I know best.