I wonder if I confuse people when they talk to me, because I am usually quite friendly, chatty and have a good sense of humour. Do they look at me and find it confusing that someone so “normal” can be deeply depressed and suicidal? I cannot change the way I interact with people simply to satisfy their preconceptions about what someone with depression must behave like. I probably won’t shake or cry uncontrollably. I am a kind and pleasant person most of the time, because it is my nature to be that way. I generally like people (despite my social phobia), I love nature and animals, and I think the universe is a magical place of beauty. I enjoy learning about science.
I am quite capable of holding a decent conversation despite living in great emotional turmoil. I remember Stephen Fry, a brilliant British TV personality (check out his QI show on the BBC) admitting that during the filming of one of his shows he secretly wished he was dead, even though he appeared happy and jovial. It is easy to hide the way you truly feel inside. For me, I am in frequent pain, though it is not visible like a somatic illness.
I know my attitude perplexes people, because I once had two crisis workers visit me at home after a suicide attempt and someone said I sounded too articulate and coherent to have just tried to kill myself. They said I might sabotage my chances of receiving help if I behaved “too normal.” Would people say that to someone who tried to commit suicide over a chronic physical illness? Please refrain from stereotyping me. I am not much different than you. In fact, I wouldn’t doubt that many health care workers suffer in silence, too, but are likely afraid to come out because of the stigma of mental illness.