There is a certain depression that is often overlooked. This depression is difficult to recognize because you hide it when you have it. You somehow realize what you’re doing. You know something is wrong. And at night when you allow that lonely feeling, it sometimes turns to despair. But you ignore the signals. You’ve been going on with this for so long now to keep smiling and succeeding that it seems like the depression is just part of who you are. Or who you have become.
You may not even realize that you are depressed. Because how can you be depressed? “I have so many reasons to be happy.” That’s what I call a perfectly hidden depression.
Perfectly hidden depression
Other depression or dysthymic disorder are unlikely because you are too confident, have too many contacts and you know what you are doing. Life is going well and you are not sure what to say to a therapist.
They would never acknowledge that you are very depressed because you are not isolated. You don’t cry and you don’t really show any emotion. But this depression can be easily overlooked because you don’t have the symptoms of normal depression. You have no suicidal tendencies. A therapist or doctor might even say that you are successful, have many friends, and that you may just be working a little too hard or feeling anxious.
There is a depression hidden beneath all that success. You hid and buried the depression by pretending nothing was wrong and still isn’t the case. Because how can you be depressed? You are sometimes nervous and you sleep too little. You are a perfectionist, but you often count on that. Maybe you worry too much and try to take control of your life, but everyone doesn’t? Isn’t that the right way to live?
This is not how to be happy and that happiness you feel is not real. Your life is defined by things you should do. You are successful and you are admired, but deep down you are not happy, even if you are not aware of it. Do you want to know how I know?
Because there are secrets and where there are secrets there is loneliness. You don’t take good enough care of yourself, you feel ashamed and you are too critical. This way of living, your perfectly hidden life, is not a choice. And if you don’t make the choices yourself or don’t have enough freedom, then you’re stuck. You do not express your pain and if you are silent about it, no one will see how vulnerable you are.
Below is a questionnaire to find out whether you recognize this syndrome or behavior in yourself. If so, then I hope you will find more information about this. That could even save your life.
A Checklist to Find Out If You Have Perfectly Hidden Depression
Do you have trouble confiding in others? Especially when it comes to the problems you face in life? Yes No______
Do you really want something to be perfect for you and for others? Yes No______
If you have ever been hurt by your partner (or friends) or if you have a grudge against someone, do you not talk about it on purpose? Yes No______
Do you sleep badly or do you find it difficult to turn off your thoughts at night? Yes No______
When you feel overwhelmed, do you find it difficult to admit it? Yes No______
Do you put pressure on yourself to get something done, even though it might hurt you? Yes No______
Do you always respond immediately when your friends need something from you, even at the expense of what you need? Yes No______
Were you raised in a family where feelings of sadness or pain were not discussed or criticized for expressing such feelings? Yes No______
Have you ever suffered emotionally, physically, or sexually and told no one about that experience? Or were you not believed when you told someone about it? Yes No______
Did you grow up in a family (or are you still in that family) where you felt like you had to live up to certain expectations, instead of being yourself? Yes No______
Do you like to be in control of a situation when you are involved? Yes No______
Do you feel that you are finding it increasingly difficult to keep structure in your life? Yes No______
If so, does that thought make you anxious or panic? Yes No______
Are you someone who hardly ever cries? Yes No______
Are you seen as a very responsible person, someone that your colleagues, relatives or friends can always count on? Yes No______
Do you find it selfish to make time for yourself? Yes No______
Do you hate people who see themselves as a ‘victim’? If it’s not their fault that something goes wrong? Yes No______
Have you learned in the past that you have to deal with painful things yourself without the help of others? That it is weak to ask someone for help ? Yes No______
Do you believe that you should focus on the positive things in life or that you should consider yourself lucky? Yes No______
Is there a critical, inner voice that tells you that you are not good enough or that you could have worked harder, even though you have already achieved your goal? Yes No______
Do you appear hopeful and energetic when you actually feel trapped inside? Yes No______
Do you make lists of things to do in a day and when you don’t, do you feel frustrated or like you’ve failed? Yes No______
Were you the oldest child in a family where the parents were often absent, leaving you to take care of your younger siblings? Yes No______
As a child, did you have to care for an alcoholic or dysfunctional parent? Yes No______
When you were young, were you told by one of your parents that you were very special to him or her, which made you feel like you needed to keep him or her happy and as emotionally stable as possible? Yes No______
Do you have a perfectly hidden depression?
Add up the times you checked yes. If you’ve answered yes to a question five to eight times, then you’re probably a very responsible person, who may need to take a little more time for yourself. If you answered yes to a question eight to 11 times, it indicates that you have very high perfectionist expectations of yourself, which can be detrimental to your well-being. If you answered yes to a question 12 or more times, it could be a sign that you have a perfectly hidden depression or a depression that you ignore (or are not aware of). You do this by deliberately hiding behind a facade of happiness.
But if you have too many of these traits, then you probably have perfectly hidden depression. And that leads to a lonely life. If you recognize yourself in this, it is important to seek professional help.