Symptoms of mental illness are usually very well hidden; behind award winning smiles... behind "I'm fine" - "I'm okay".
Many mental illness sufferers (including me) feel the need to mask their symptoms face to face; especially if the face they're facing has no experience or understanding of mental illness, and is anticipated by the sufferer as likely to judge.
Often a persons outward appearance bears no semblance to their inner truth.
They might appear bright; animated even. Doing a fabulous job of mimicking your sunshine, and yet be stood before you in a haze of darkness.
They may be holding a conversation with you (wearing one of those award winning smiles) whilst at the same time battling to control intrusive thoughts, compulsions, voices, suicidal thoughts.
From my own experience... I often mask the turmoil beneath the surface, because I'm ashamed, because I fear judgement, and because I don't want to burden others; least of all those I love.
Frequently, when I'm asked questions like ‘are you okay?’ or ‘how are you?’ my mind reels off a load of relevant answers that completely contradict the "I'm fine" that rolls off my tongue.
It's easier to lie than it is to explain fearful-depressed-incredibly anxious. Emotional, paranoid, hypervigilant. Twitchy (and hoping you don't notice). Panicky. Hurting. STUCK IN SCARED!
It's easier to paint on a smile, cover up, feign control; than it is to admit to dark thoughts, flash backs, self inflicted scars, deep despair, self directed anger... SHAME!
In my case (and I believe the same is true for others, but I can only speak for myself here) it's entirely possible that I might be mimicking sunshine only hours after a major meltdown.
Mental illness is (usually) invisible, but very real. It's often debilitating, often disabling, sometimes life threatening, and always incredibly painful. Whether you can see it or not!
It's impossible to tell how someone truly feels on the inside based only on their outward appearance.
These days, Thanks to Twitter (and other networks full of like minded people) many sufferers (including me) are able to reach out, open up (whilst remaining protected) and access the empathy/support they need.
LORD, Please bless all those who say “I’m fine.” when in truth they are far from it. I pray their lives be filled with people who care enough to see (and understand), the turmoil behind the mask.
Thank you for allowing me to share
God bless you and all those you love