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Just because I'm funny doesn't mean I'm not depressed

April Bridgeman is a freelance writer and blogger who lives in Dallas. Her writing has been featured on WomansDay.com and The Good Men Project. When she isn't writing, she can be found reading, doing yoga, or petting cats. She swears les...

I may be 'the funny one,' but I'm also depressed

I love to make people laugh. In small groups, I’m usually "the funny one."

I come from a long line of funny people. Growing up, almost everything was communicated through humor, whether it was important or not. My siblings and I learned to relate to each other through jokes, a mixed bag through the years. Humor became my best defense — if I can still make fun of what’s happening, still see the silly parts of everyday life, how bad could I really be?

I’ve also had depression my whole life. I often think no one really likes me, I'm terrible and I'd be better off dead. On a good day, these thoughts appear and then fade without much effort. On a bad day, it keeps up for hours and hours. It overwhelms my brain and clouds my ability to think about anything else. But I always know how to laugh.

More: 11 things depression feels like besides sad

Depressed people lie about their depression and funny depressed people lie twice as much. There are days when I probably shouldn't go into work or to social occasions, but I don't feel like I have a choice. I've spent hours crying discretely in semi-public places. Mostly, I try to ignore it — if it’s all in my head, I can make it stop and pretend it's not real. I'll lie in bed fully clothed and stare at the wall until it's time to get up and go meet some friends for a drink, at which point I step right into entertainer mode and sometimes stay that way for a few hours. When I feel the cracks starting to show, when the truth seems too close, I wave goodbye to everyone and climb into my car to cry all the way home.  

Glossing over pain with humor feels like I'm surmounting my depression at times. Even as our society starts to recognize depression for what it is, there are still millions of people who don't seem to believe in the severity of the problem — like it's a switch we should be able to flip on and off instead of a chemical alteration and negative neural mapping.

I’m what they call “functionally depressed” these days. It’s a shorthand for having symptoms that aren’t so severe as to keep me from being “productive” in society but allow me to get really good at faking it. But depression is still there, quietly lurking and waiting for the chance to grow.

More: The burden of the high-functioning depressive

Depression doesn't come with a big flashy display. It isn't exuberant or wild or even particularly obvious. It's quiet and small to the outsider, even if it's loud enough to shake the earth for the person experiencing it. It compels people to push things down and pretend nothing is wrong at all. It can take over without anyone finding out, especially once someone knows how to hide it. Especially if someone is always laughing.

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