I was reading through the blog of a very good friend after a hiatus of months and was upset to learn that she has been suffering from mild depression. She has been crying buckets, has tried to hurt herself once and has been taking tranquilisers.

Suffering in silence by herself all this while and I who thought of myself as a confidant was in the dark.

I just met her recently and although I won’t describe her as being all cheery and optimistic then, she certainly had not struck me as feeing so down in the dumps. She was looking quite like her usual self, laughing and chatting non-stop, albeit seemingly less confident and cheerful now that I think about it. But I just assumed that she was slightly down as she was facing a plateau at work and not finding as many options as she initially thought there would be in the market. Then again, who else isn’t unsatisfied with their jobs? I can easily list ten with my fingers. Hence I had shrugged it off casually.

This led me to think about the number of people who look, behave and walk around doing their daily things as if there is nothing wrong at all in their lives. Throwing their heads back in laughter at every single joke, smiling to you like a beam of sunshine, when in reality their hearts are wrenching in pain and dark thoughts torment them incessantly.

What is wrong with this world?

Does it make one weak to show one’s true emotions in front of others?

That may sound funny coming from someone who doesn’t even look like she has many emotions and feelings running through her most of the time. Recently my boss handed out self-made certificates to each member of the team during the TGID lunch. While others were termed Miss Multi-tasker, Miss Database Queen, to name a couple, probably because I was very new and my boss had to base it on the first impression, I was Miss Cool, Calm and Collected. I thought that could be positive, but I also wondered if my boss was simply too polite to put down another “C” – cold. The associate manager gave me some feedback lately and after reviewing the good points, commented that I could talk more although she did give me the credit of speaking up when needed. Yes, I do not talk a lot in front of most people, but that’s because I need time to warm up to the person. I need to verify whether the person is worthy to be more than an acquaintance because nothing more than small talk is for acquaintances, though then again I do not like to do small talk either. Next I need to ascertain how trustworthy the person is because it will define the depth of the conversation, how much I can reveal.

The entire process actually does not take up a lot of time, but the truth is that I already have friends and family whom I’m completely comfortable with to talk about most things, and hence seldom feel the need to confide in other people. I am already fortunate enough to have a fairly big number of friends whom I know will cry at my funeral and help me bury a body together, therefore I seldom feel the need to befriend more people. Adding to the fact that I do not like to say what I don’t mean, and do not want to say what may hurt others, I prefer to keep quiet at times. I am comfortable with silence, perfectly fine with just staying in my own world thinking about things, listening to others talk, or just observing people. Sometimes you can understand a person even more by listening to them talk, seeing how they react. That lifting of an eyebrow, that sparkle in the eye, that twitch at the corner of the mouth. Sometimes you can read more in the actions than in the words. But since I do not speak much, I admit that this’s giving new people a tough time to know me better. However I do talk almost non-stop with my good friends, practically endlessly with my family, because there’s this comfort zone, and they get your unique sense of humour and do not judge you.    

I have always thought that I am the type of person who is not afraid to show what she feels. I think there is no shame in crying when you are sad, in the same way it seems perfectly normal to laugh when you are joyous. Nothing wrong to cuss out loud when you are angry. No wrong in admitting your embarrassment or worries either. Does that render one weak? Anyway I have openly admitted that I have my weakness several times on this blog. I am afraid of getting hurt and my heart can get broken easily. Perhaps it is this very fear that makes me appear emotionless. With the exception of some friends and family, I do not like others to guess who I really am. Some years ago, I realised and acknowledged the fact that consciously or subconsciously, I had built this shield around me. A wall around myself to keep others out, some sort of amour I had put around myself to protect either my fragile heart. At which point of time, I do not know, but I think that it has been growing thicker and stronger with time. Those who have managed their way in, perhaps at a time when it had not been strong, stay in and those who are not remain outside.

You may find it easier to know whether I am angry because this is the only emotion I’m more willing to expose. It may take me to be humming a song or having a skip in my steps for you to discover that I am feeling happy. Most of the time, perhaps you are just thinking that I look composed, or even ice cold. Maybe it is my shield at work. I don’t know, I’m just guessing. Because life is a route to self-discovery and that’s what I am doing each day, trying to understand myself better, why I am saying the things I say, doing the things I do, or not saying or doing what I perhaps should.

But I do know that if something is bothering me, I will tell those in my circle. To others I may not say, but I will not smile and pretend that nothing is wrong. I will not ignore the problem and think that it will just go away if I do. For it will not. It will manifest itself silently in the dark and come back to haunt you at night when you are at your most vulnerable. For me, I found out that the best way is to wallow in the gloom of it all, think my way through it even if it takes weeks, cry all it takes, and eventually see the light at the end of the tunnel. Problemo solved.

For my friend, I will pretend that I do not know about it, for if she has not want to me to know  or did not find the chance to tell me, then this is the way it is meant to be. Maybe it is me. Maybe I am not doing a good job of letting her know that she can tell me anything. I do not know what hurts me more – a friend feeling all hurt inside or a friend not telling me how much it hurts.