The Surface Doesn’t Always Reflect What’s Within

tumblr_inline_mvl63vvZ4x1reoiz0I’ve wanted to write this article ever since hearing about Kate Spade’s passing, and wasn’t sure how to put it clearly in words. There is so much online negativity and online bullying that I wonder, is this a reflection of how many people feel inside? I remember talking to someone several days ago, and we talked about how easy it is for those who are hurting inside to appear just fine when seen in public. It’s easy to put on a smile. However, the internet now can also be a good and bad place for people to express themselves. It can be a place to share stories and encouragement, as well as a place for people to try tear others down and show their true colours.

It makes me think about how we don’t live in a perfect world, but we have the power to give support to someone in someway, no matter how small. Depression is invisible, in the sense that a person feels the pain so deeply inside, that it can seem hidden from the world. I’ve previously talked a little about my experience with anxiety and depression. I don’t take it lightly, and it’s such a serious topic that it makes me think how our society is at this stage. I’ve thought about this lately, because there is still a stigma attached and lack of understanding about mental health, even though many people will experience some form in their life time.

During my previous semester at uni, I did a report where we could choose our own topic. I chose to do it on youth suicide in New Zealand. It was heartbreaking and took a lot of my mental energy, and there were tears and facing reality. It was something I chose, because it’s something that’s not talked about in daily life, but it’s a huge issue in New Zealand. In 2013 I tried taking my own life, and this is not something I tell many people. Only 2 people I can say know this, and to write this is difficult. When I lived in Sydney, I had to go to the ED, because my panic attack was so bad that I thought I was literally going to die. I had depression for several years since 2009, and it’s been a long journey, but I feel the most content in my life now.

I still remember back in 2013 when someone at my uni hall at the time said “Oh my gosh, Katie. Did you cut yourself?” Even wearing long sleeves couldn’t hide them, and it was so obvious they were cuts, but I just said they were cat scratches. Now that I’m older, I realise that many people still view mental illness as there is something wrong with you. There is this feeling that people will look down on you. I really believe in my heart that the most important thing is to surround yourself with loving people, and no matter how long it takes, to learn to love yourself. It took me a long time to be where I’m at and truly love myself, and know that God loves me and my family and friends love me. Also, it’s important to say that your happiness and contentment in life can only be relied on yourself, and no other person.

I’m at a stage now where I think back and think, I shouldn’t of hurt myself like that, but at the time I felt so deeply hurt inside. I get sad when people say when someone suicide’s it’s so selfish. They don’t realise that the person is crying out for help, but feels like they’re drowning in water. They feel like they can’t escape that feeling, and feel there is only one way to stop the pain. They might feel like nobody cares, that the world is so cruel or that they don’t feel a sense of meaning or purpose. Even someone like Kate Spade who appeared to be so successful and have everything, felt empty inside. It really shows that money doesn’t buy you happiness. No materials of a nice apartment, clothing and so on can make us happy. It’s really the relationship we have with our self and others.

This is why we should all strive to be more understanding, patient, kind and loving. Nobody is perfect, but our daily interactions and the words we say have power.  I know that seeing someone smile at me can really make my day. Never be ashamed or afraid to reach out for help. You deserve to get help, and don’t ever feel embarrassed to feel the way you feel. I remember one year I felt so afraid, I stayed indoors a lot and it was suffocating. I lost so much faith in God and in myself, and I could feel that my life was crumbling because of that. We live in a judgmental world, but the truth is most people are more concerned about their own life. Everyone wants to be loved. When we focus on what we have, we realise that we have a lot. Focusing on lack and failure is what can cause depression to become more and more serious.

Growing up, I often got told “You’re such a happy person, Katie,” because I love to smile and laugh. However, it was also easy for me to smile and pretend I was okay, when I was really struggling inside. This is one of the most important posts I feel the need to write because it means so much to me. It’s really something that I want to say, in terms of reaching out, asking for help and taking action no matter how difficult. Counseling, talking to a close friend or family or someone that you can trust without having any judgment. We live in a superficial and shallow world. I really feel that sometimes. The amount of teenagers who have self harmed, or the amount of youth that feel depressed are so much more common than we know.

I was at work last night, and the last customer was an elderly man. I said “You are so brave, coming out in the cold weather,” it must of been 6 degrees, or at least it felt like it was. He said that as he grows older, he knows that we have to make the most of each day, no matter whether it’s hot or cold. I’ve had many cold days where I used to have a panic attack almost everyday, and cry from anxiety. However, I truly believe that we can all set ourselves free, and live a meaningful life. Depression really puts you in a cage, and it makes you convinced that you can’t do this or that. If you know someone who is going through a mental illness, pray for them and believe they will heal. The truth is, no matter how much we want to help, it’s a journey that has to be overcome by the person themselves.

Everyone has personal things in their life going on, and it’s so easy to see what’s only on the surface in a digital age. We judge quickly, we make assumptions and we live in a visual society. We put too much value on how things look, rather than how things feel. We see things from the surface, rather than from the heart. We all have the ability to be supportive and caring, and it’s important to reach out if you need to, because sometimes those who care about us most might not know how much one might be hurting inside. Negativity robs us of life’s contentment. Everyone goes through ups and downs, and it’s really okay to cry, tell someone you trust about it or reach out for help. Your personal well being and health is the biggest priority. A person’s life is so valuable and precious, and your life matters.

If you need help, please contact:

• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 – Provides 24 hour telephone counselling

• Youthline: 0800 376 633 or free text 234 – Provides 24 hour telephone and text counselling services for young people

• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (4pm – 6pm weekdays)

• The Lowdown: thelowdown.co.nz – website for young people ages 12 to 19.

If you need a friend to talk to, please don’t hesitate to email me at katiepassionfruit@gmail.com

Art by Midori Yamada

13 thoughts on “The Surface Doesn’t Always Reflect What’s Within

  1. Kudos to you for talking about such a deeply personal and difficult subject. I’ve lived with depression for several years, and I know it’s something you’d prefer everyone not know about, but it’s so important for us all to talk about mental illness and bring it more out into the light, and get past all the stigma that surrounds it. Glad to hear you’re in a better place, now. Good on you, young lady.

  2. Thank you for your comment. I’ve wanted to write it for so long, but have been so hesitant because of the stigma surrounding mental health, and the thought of “What if someone I know reads this”. But, the project and research I did made me really want to write this, because it’s more important to let someone know that they’re not alone, many people have also experienced anxiety and depression.

    1. Your fear of someone you know reading this is exactly why we need to bring mental illness out in the open, and drive home the point that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Would you fear someone reading about, say, your cancer, your diabetes, your heart condition? Your Alzheimer’s? Mental illness is something we should be just as comfortable discussing with others, and that’s the goal we need to reach for.

      1. Very true, I can’t agree enough. We really live in such a visual world, because with something that can be seen by people will come with more empathy or understanding expressed. But mental illnesses really need to be talked about more in order to gain more understanding about it.

  3. So courageous and compassionate of you to share the depths of yourself on a topic that can be difficult to speak about. I resonate with much of what you wrote. I too have struggled with debilitating anxiety and deep depression. While I’m in a much better place it’s a continual process and it’s vital we talk about it! Just this winter in the small town where I live, we lost 4 community members to suicide in 6 weeks. It’s devastating. But I truly believe this is how we start to make a lasting shift. Thank you for showing up! You are of immeasurable value!

    1. Thank you for your comment, and for sharing with me. It truly is important to talk about it, because I feel when there’s a fear of speaking about it, the judgment towards it can grow. I’m very sorry to hear it, it’s heartbreaking. Thank you for your touching comment.

  4. Wow. Thank you for writing this, it was beautiful. So much of it resonated with me. I, too, have suffered from depression and anxiety but I don’t show it to anyone, even my closest friends. Only a couple of people really know. Its so hard to talk about, when I was at my worst many years ago, I was always afraid of asking for help and afraid of what people would think. I’m still not ready to talk about it even though I know it would be helpful to others. Someone said about Kate Spade ‘I just can’t understand or imagine feeling that way’ and I just didn’t know what to say, but I wanted to say that I did understand.

    So thanks for sharing. You are not alone in your thoughts.

  5. Thank you for your comment, Erin. I truly relate to the feeling of going through a stage of being scared to ask for help, and fearing judgment. I really relate to not showing it, and when I was in my teens, I smiled a lot to hide my feelings. I have heard similar things, where someone said she’s so successful and has everything though. That’s when I was really thinking : the surface doesn’t always reflect what’s within. I think success is really just being content, truly content in your life. No money, title, popularity, materials, status, image, appearances.

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