The Happiest Depressed Person on the Block

island in a storm


Depression is a liar.  It lies to you… and it lies to me.

Depression likes to hide, and those of us that struggle with it often help it to do so.

Depression is its’ trickiest when no one sees it.

“You’re the funniest person I know!”

“You’re so sweet and bubbly all the time.”

“How do you keep such a positive outlook?”

I am a master at carrying on small talk with the moms at school.  They think I am witty… and sometimes I am.

When the camera is pointed at me, my personality switch is turned on.  I deliver when I need to.  I am skilled.

I keep it hidden…

because I am ashamed.

I’m the happiest depressed person on the block.  I can keep up the facade for a good thirty minutes… that works out fine, because that’s all the time I’ll allow myself to be around you.  I’ll have the warmest smile for you, and the cheeriest wave goodbye… at the same time, I’ll know in my bones that somehow I’m failing at everything.

You wouldn’t know that my voice is hoarse because yesterday I screamed at my children so loud that it hurt my throat.

You wouldn’t know that some of the simplest tasks feel insurmountable.

You wouldn’t know that my life is in great upheaval right now, and that I don’t have the tools to deal with it because I buried my tool box thinking things would never break again.

I was on medication many years ago while healing from a traumatic event.  Under my doctor’s supervision, I weaned off of medication before getting pregnant six years ago.  I struggled with postpartum depression, but made it through with natural supplements and no heavy meds.  The idea of swallowing them again is… disappointing…

and tinged with weakness.

Depression is a battle – one that is terribly difficult to fight when you are the primary care giver in your home and have no support system.

Today I feel like I’m fighting that battle with little armor, and no one at my back.

Today I found the courage to go to an intake appointment at the psychiatrist’s office… at 7 am, with plans to cut it short so I could get my son to school.  The psychiatrist was running late, wanted to reschedule for the middle of the day… but I have a two year old at home and no child care… no family nearby… no available friends.  I called my husband in a panic to see if he could take our oldest to school and then wait at home with our littlest so I could see the doctor when he finally arrived, but he was already late for work and couldn’t wait for me any longer.

Today depression showed itself to others.  Today I screamed at my husband for not being available… I screamed at the world for not giving me a damn hour break to talk about getting healthy.  Today I cried at the psychiatric center’s reception desk as she told me they didn’t have any appointments after office hours – when my husband could be home to watch the kids.  Today the facade crumbled… as I stood there nodding at the receptionist… refusing to make a sound…

as a multitude of tears ran down my face.

Today I was swallowed by the hopelessness of being unable to take care of myself… even when I urgently want to.

Today the happiest depressed person on the block became the most desperate depressed person on the block.

Today I’m feeding everyone, bathing everyone, and cooking for everyone…

as I desperately cling to the rapidly dissolving walls of my universe.

Today I am a small, lonely island caught in a storm…

praying that lightning doesn’t strike.

Today I am grievously unhappy,

and there’s a good chance that everyone sees it.






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Comments (51)

  • Mandy 9 years ago Reply

    Facades are completely exhausting to maintain. I know, I speak from experience. I also went on Lexapro and Xanax last winter. I cannot believe the difference it (and twice a week therapy) have made in my life. I hope you get the hour you so obviously deserve and need. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. I hope you get to take care of yours. Maybe by throwing yourself out from behind the facade you can finally get the help you need.

    Just know you are not alone. Not by a long shot.

    Jenni Chiu 9 years ago Reply

    Facades are exhausting. It’s incredibly difficult sometimes to take care of ones’ self as a mother when so many people depend on you to take of them first.

  • Abby 9 years ago Reply

    And there’s a good chance that more people than you know can relate. It’s not something fun to talk about. Hell, it’s not something you want to HAVE to talk about, but that’s the only way you can heal. You’re reaching out, you’re realizing depression’s a lie you don’t have to believe, you’re searching for help and some peace. That takes strength. That takes courage. That takes support.

    You have all of those things if you want them. It might not feel like it, but you do, and so, so many people can relate–me included. It doesn’t really help you right now–and the “now”–is often all that we feel, but it’s there.

  • Alison 9 years ago Reply

    Jenni, I’m so sorry you’re struggling. I hope you find some relief and support soon. xoxo

  • Sending you love and understanding. You wrote so beautifully about your pain. A pain so many of us can relate to. Demons and depression and “issues” I thought I had dealt with come back sometimes. Being a mother means being so vulnerable and open and that’s when I find those “issues” showing up again. Being a mother also means having to take care of everyone and being strong. It can just be so hard. I’m glad you are getting, or at least trying to get, to your dr. Don’t stop reaching out, sharing and asking for help. No shame.

    Jenni Chiu 9 years ago Reply

    “No shame”. Thank you for that. That’s a perfect hashtag… although I’m afraid it would totally be abused.

  • Kathleen (Middletini) 9 years ago Reply

    Jenni, you’re not alone. Every time I try to wean off of antidepressants, I start feeling like my face is melting. My advice, FWIW: hang on, even if it’s by your fingernails at the moment, and make getting healthy the #1 priority, more important than anything else you have to do today. Make your husband take the morning or afternoon off of work, or hire a babysitter, or grab one of those moms from school (many of whom have probably been where you are but are good at hiding it, too) to take the kids so that you can get to the doctor. Treat it as an urgent medical situation. If you had a broken wrist, or chest pains, you’d get to the doctor regardless of your child care situation, because others would make sure you could do that. They need to understand that this is just as serious. You’re probably way ahead of me, and I don’t mean to preach, but I remember I didn’t insist on help until I was having panic attacks and suicidal ideations. Not a good place to be. Sending good vibes.

  • i wish i could blog about this exact same thing… unfortunately, I’m not there. I appreciate your honesty, openness, and courage for being able to be real.

  • toywithme 9 years ago Reply

    Jenni my heart goes out to you. The worst part of depression for me is when I’m at my darkest and I don’t reach out. I hope you continue to make yourself a priority and do whatever it takes to get get some help. If you have to bring the kids to the Dr.’s office and leave them with the receptionist – do it! Don’t take no for an answer, your mental health is far to important. You matter and you count and you’re important. Don’t forget that!

    Much love to you my amazing and special friend! If you need anyone to even just listen I’m here Jenni. xxxxx

  • I get this 200 percent. We become good “actors” until the facade falls away. I am here for you. Going through the same exact thing, which is why I haven’t blogged. xoxo

  • Jenny 9 years ago Reply

    Depression is a damn liar. Sending you so much love. Keep reaching out and keep writing and talking. Hoping that you get an appointment soon. xoxo

  • Kim 9 years ago Reply

    You will certainly be in my thoughts. I can relate to what you are going through since I, too, suffer from depression. I’ve become a master at hiding what I am dealing with (though the baggy eyes and dark circles do tend to give me away) and just moving forward the best I can.

    The one thing I’ve heard from some that really grates on my nerves is “Get over it. It’s not that big a deal.” Umm, yes it is. Depression is vicious and mean. It’s challenging and exhausting. You (and all those who suffer from it) need support, love, care, guidance, and time to care for yourself.

    I hope you feel better soon. You’re not alone, that’s for sure.

  • Tricia O. 9 years ago Reply

    Jenni, I went through the exact same thing a few weeks ago. I’m still clawing my way out of it, but it’s a spectre; always waiting for me, eager to pull me back in.

    I’ve never been so embarrassed by my behavior before. My oldest child is afraid of me because of the screaming and throwing of objects not meant to be thrown.

    I’m hopeful this psychiatrist can help me, but his stupid office hours are only during the time my 3yo is out of school.

    Doubling up on meds so far is helping, and I’m doing my best not to unravel.

    I hope that it gets better for both of us soon.

    Jenni Chiu 9 years ago Reply

    It’s so f*cking difficult to find a doctor who can see you after office hours! Here’s to hoping we both make it through the tunnel soon.

  • erin margolin 9 years ago Reply

    I am sending you love because I KNOW THIS.

    I KNOW THIS WELL, and I know it NOW.

    I am in the thick of it right there with you, Jenni.

    You are brave and honest and I love you for sharing. I am going to keep sharing the heck out of this because it’s so important we don’t keep silent. There’s still such a stigma about this, and….I hate that.
    I hate that you’re feeling this way. Did you schedule another appointment? When is it? WHat can I do? How can I help?

    I love you. You are not alone.

    p.s. I am hoarse, too.

    Jenni Chiu 9 years ago Reply

    “I am hoarse too.”
    That means more to me than anything. Thank you for being honest, and thank you for your kind words.

  • gigi 9 years ago Reply

    Oh Jenni. I wish I were down the street so I could watch your kids and you could make that daytime appointment.

    Keeping you in my thoughts.


  • Suniverse 9 years ago Reply

    Oh, honey. I’m so sorry.

    That feeling is terrifying and exhausting.

    But I’ve got your back. Promise.

    Jenni Chiu 9 years ago Reply

    Terrifying and exhausting is the perfect way to describe it.
    Thank you so much.

  • Becoming SuperMommy 9 years ago Reply

    I totally feel this.

    Not at this moment. I’m having a good day. But it’s just that- a good day.

    It’s hard. And something needs to give.

    Reach out to somebody, anybody. Ask another mom at the preschool if they could watch your kids for an hour or two. Ask a friend’s mostly-useless unemployed husband. Everyone knows somebody who at the very least can sit in front of the TV with your kids for a bit and not burn down the house. That’s all you need. Just an hour.

    I hope you can find it. <3

  • Ashley 9 years ago Reply

    Oh thank you so very much for writing this. I am so very sorry you are going through this, but your words are so helpful to so many of us out there. Know that you are not alone, that people have been there. I get it. So much. Sending you love and hope, and I hope you can get a chance to make an appointment.

    Jenni Chiu 9 years ago Reply

    Thank you so much.
    Appointment made. Just holding on until then.

  • Lynda 9 years ago Reply

    I know it’s not much, but I know just how you feel. There have been many days like that around here. It’s not that my husband doesn’t want to be helpful, he just doesn’t understand. Because depression is an illness with bandages, slings, or outward scars, most people don’t understand. They think that you look fine, so what’s the big deal? What do you have to be depressed about?
    Keep going, dear. Writing about my feelings always helps me. I know right now it doesn’t seem like it, but it will get better.

    Jenni Chiu 9 years ago Reply

    It IS much… it is so much to know how many people have been there or are there now.

  • Marta 9 years ago Reply

    I understand how you feel so much that it hurts. It hurts so much knowing that I gasp for air in the same way and yet no one could understand because I’m all sunshine and cheer when you’re looking. I know I am all the way in Chicago and can’t physically help you in anyway. But if there’s ever anything you need (and I do truly mean that) please let me know. Even if its just to talk about how much life sucks sometimes and how we don’t want to do anything, but curl up and fall into the abyss of television.

    Jenni Chiu 9 years ago Reply

    Just knowing that you understand helps me so much. Depression is lonely… yet plagues so many.
    *hugs* to you.
    I hope soon you may stop gasping too.

  • Chris Carter 9 years ago Reply

    Your words are so raw and powerful and beautiful all at the same time… bless your precious heart. I ache reading them, and clench my fists too. Your husband should have been late to work- I don’t know him from Adam- but dammit. He should have realized the priority and the critical significance of you seeking help. THAT should have been number ONE.
    It kills me that you had to leave…that you had to have your heart broken into even more tiny pieces of pain.
    I will be praying for you. Medicine is NOT weakness. I claim it to be the very best thing I have EVER done for myself, my marriage, my kids, and my life. Six years I have been on zoloft, and although I don’t suffer as much from depression as anxiety- I can’t tell you how much of a difference it makes in letting me be the BEST me I can be.
    I only regret not starting it sooner than 40. i wasted 40 years full of angst… instead of full of peace, so that I may truly embrace life as I should.
    Go get medicine, honey. It will help, along with therapy. YOU deserve to take care of YOU. You must, or you won’t be worth much to anyone else, amen?
    I am so glad I clicked on your link that I saw on FB. I am so so sorry you have to suffer so much. Feel my caring compassion, and my prayers, and my virtual hug!!

    Jenni Chiu 9 years ago Reply

    I’m so glad you clicked on the link, too. Your kind kind words mean so very much to me right now.
    Thank you.

  • Marsha 9 years ago Reply

    Jenni I’m so sorry you’re going through this right now. We’ve never met in person, but I think we don’t live too far from each other – please let me know if there’s anything I can do. I’d be happy to help with childcare so you could get to an appointment (and I have two excellent teenage babysitters here as well.) xo

  • Aliza 9 years ago Reply

    Medicine is not weakness, I promise, taking it shows strength. It’s not a disappointment to need it again – it’s never a disappointment to do what you have to to keep your heart and mind from failing. Good for you for wanting to take care of yourself – I wish I was there – I would have taken your older to school and played with your younger for as long as you needed. And I would have made you tea with honey.

  • Maggie May 9 years ago Reply

    I totally get it. I write often on my blog about my struggles with depression and anxiety after a traumatic childhood. I have gotten off Zoloft- natural supplements, healthy lifestyle, etc- to later have to go back on. The facade is helpful and dangerous at the same time, and you are using your blog as I do, a way to break the truth out of it’s cement cage.

  • Thekitchwitch 9 years ago Reply

    Just got out of the hospital for a bad bout of panic attacks and depression. I know just how you feel. I can hide it for about a half hour, too. People say, “You’re so funny!” or “Well, you’re certainly not shy, are you?” And part of me laughs inside because they’re so wrong. The other part of me cries that I have to pretend.

  • Mama Mary 9 years ago Reply

    Oh Jenni, I can relate to this in SO many ways. Lexapro saved my life last year at this time when I was careening down a dark spiral. Sending you hugs and love and strength. xoxox

  • Alexandra 9 years ago Reply

    I wish I could help you. I would. I wish I could do that. I want so much for you to be able to talk to someone, get on the medication that will work for you, go back to what can be normal for us. But, for us, at least for me, the undercurrent of the ugly demon is always there, waiting for when our defenses our down. When a bad day undoes us with the hatred of self talk we wouldn’t spew on an enemy. From far away, we see it clearly… when it’s in someone else’s life… we can see the triggers the falling in place the open Achilles’ tendon left exposed and vulnerable. But in our own lives, we think we’re machines, and need to keep going. Even when we open our eyes in the morning and the only thing that gets us out of bed is counting how many hours until we can get back in. I hear you, dear friend, you’re not alone, but it’s so hard to make it without family/good friends, physically there to watch the kids so we can go. I had a wonderful therapist that let me bring my little one in with me. I wouldn’t have made it without her that year… I wish for a friend , a good therapist, for you like that.

  • Kir 9 years ago Reply

    I wish I could help too, but I am an expert at hiding my sadness, this deep ugly depression that has been part of my life for the last 2 years.
    I am so sorry, because I’ve seen you in person, hugged you in person and I love that smile but I also know how hard it is to keep it pasted on , like a disclaimer. “I’m fine!” I say that about a thousand times a week…but I’m not. Not really, but who wants to hear/see/deal with that with me?

    I’m here and I adore you..I think the world of you…and I hope that you are feeling better, like yourself, different soon. I hope that for you my new friend.

  • Rebecca 9 years ago Reply

    You have put onto paper the thoughts that are swarming through my head today. Thank you for making me feel like slightly less of an island.

  • Kat 9 years ago Reply

    I’m prettier sure next time you need childcare you can set your kids up in front of the computer and the entire internet will watch them via Skype. Totally safe. Wish my daycare was just a smidge closer so I could fill in for you on days like this. If I were there I would hug you right through any awkward feelings right now.

  • Tanis 9 years ago Reply

    I haven’t blogged in a month because of my own battle with depression. Your post resonates loudly. I’m sorry I can’t do more than offer a cyber hug and let you know you aren’t waging this war against depression alone. I’m in the trenches with you. May we find some relief soon and may the sunshine of happiness and joy once more light our way. xo

    Jenni Chiu 9 years ago Reply

    I love you, fellow warrior. Here’s to coming out the other side soon.

  • Shell 9 years ago Reply

    You’re definitely not alone. I’m sorry the appointment didn’t work out. I hope you can get in soon. Sending lots of love. xo

  • Arnebya 9 years ago Reply

    The hopelessness, Jenny. It is all encompassing. The fucking charade is all encompassing. Of my mind, my body, my efforts, it’s tiring. I’m tired. Tired of pretending. But oh, don’t be depressed. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO BE DEPRESSED ABOUT, BITCH. It’s true. My kids are healthy, I’m physically healthy, I have a job, a house, Pepsi exists. Life is good, right? Just exercise. Turn that frown upside down, takes more muscles to frown than to FUCK YOU. Shut up. This shit is hard. It is hard and I’m tired and don’t tell anyone and please somebody tell sombebody and why in the absolute hell don’t you have an appointment after 4:00? No Saturdays? HOW DOES THIS HELP PEOPLE? Where is the motherfucking light? Because the direction I’m looking? That tunnel looks dark as the left corner of my brain.

    I’m sorry. I wish I could help you. I wish I could help me. I wish all of us could help each other and that none of us had to put on that weird ass happy face that doesn’t quite fit.

    Jenni Chiu 9 years ago Reply

    Yes to all of this. Your heart and mine are the same right now. xoxo

  • Nancy Davis Kho 9 years ago Reply

    Hang in there, Jenni. Hang in there. We love you.

  • Erin 9 years ago Reply

    Hold strong… Big hugs and lots of love! I can see from the responses, and hopefully you can too, that you are loved and supported…. So many of us share this boat with you.. Rarely are we strong enough to verbalize it like you have.. Thank you for saying what we can’t… If only I could repay you by being there to solve your child care issue , I would in a heart beat.. Seattle is a little to far 🙁

  • […] ← The Happiest Depressed Person on the Block […]

  • Kelly 9 years ago Reply

    Jen, read this today and stopped and stared at the words on the page. Not an hour ago, I declined to attend a friend’s wedding that I had been agonizing over for weeks. In the personal note I sent her, written on an envelope because I didn’t have the energy to find something better suited, I wrote, “These days, even the simplest of tasks seems at times insurmountable.” You were obviously informed in the same way I was; brought to the same place from different roads but here nonetheless. It is so nice to know that someone else knows me, because everyone who knows me best says I’m fine. I’m just fine.
    I recently read about this place: It used to be a raucous gambling hideaway. Now it’s an abandoned shell of a place, located about a mile out in the ocean. The article refers to it as a “stranded ghost town”. More often than not these days, I have a lot in common with this place. Reading your blog today, it was like for a second I saw a flashing light out here in the middle of the ocean. Like when the sun hits an old metal fork half buried in the yard and catches you right in the eye. Everything goes red and there’s a laser-focused pain behind one eye. When you can see again, for a split second everything in your vision is crisp and clearer than it was before. Just wanted to say thanks for that.

    Jenni Chiu 9 years ago Reply

    Oh Kelly, thank you so much for this. Depression is such a lonely place… so common… and so lonely.
    Here’s to us both dancing in the crispness some day soon.

  • Eileen 9 years ago Reply

    You are so, so strong for going to that appointment. I’m sorry it didn’t work out. I know I’m way late to the game now and I hope you’ve figured something out, but if not and if you live the Seattle area you can drop your child with me while you in. I can give you references to prove I’m not a creep. Email me if I can help. ::hugs::

  • […] every day. It’s not easy but she is worth fighting for, finally she knows that. My friend Jenni is one of the strongest women I know and she never gives up. She dusts her self off, does what needs […]

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  • Venus 8 years ago Reply

    Jenni, my depressed heart aches for you. I’m catching up on your posts since I’ve been away for quite a while. I know exactly what you mean about having skills, and being able to pretend that one is well — I definitely do this. Also with my social anxiety – the people that find out just can’t believe that I have issues because I hide it so well.

    I almost feel like those of us who are like this need a secret handshake, or to be able to wave at each other surrepetitiously as Porsche drivers do when they pass one another.

    You’re not alone, and I’m hoping that now, many months on from this post, you’ve been able to get the help you needed and wanted. I hope that, especially with your new move, you’ve got the support you need to keep your head (and more importantly, your heart) above water.

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