By Holly Riordan
1. You use humor to cover up your pain. You make self-deprecating jokes about how you don’t have any friends and about how you want to die. But no one realizes that you’re serious, because you always say it with a smirk on your face.
2. You make excuses when people ask about you. If someone tells you that you look like crap, you won’t admit that you’ve been under severe stress. You’ll say that you’ve just been tired. Or that your allergies have been bothering you.
3. You tell yourself you’re overreacting. You don’t want to complain to your friends about your life, because you’re worried you sound like a brat. Like a baby. Like an entitled little bitch.
4. You leave such little signs. You leave a miniature trail of your depression. You repost articles about heartbreak and breakups and death. You listen to music about suicide and self-harm. But no one reads too much into it.
5. You’re in a healthy relationship. If you’re in a serious relationship, everyone will assume that you’re doing well. That a happy relationship equals two happy humans without a care in the world.
6. You keep your emotions to yourself. You write out lengthy text messages for friends and exes, but delete them before sending. Then you write melancholy lyrics and slam poetry, but you never post them online. You keep your feelings to yourself, even though they’re begging to be released into the world.
7. You wear a false smile. You don’t want to be an outcast. You don’t want to draw attention to yourself. You just want to fit in. That’s why you always pretend you’re happy. So that no one pays extra attention to you.
8. You aren’t a stereotype. You don’t walk around in all black clothing and thick eyeliner. You wear bright colors and keep your hair brushed and your body fit. The way you look on the outside doesn’t match how you feel on the inside.
9. You look happy online. You upload gorgeous selfies and post statuses about all the parties you’ve been attending. You seem happy and successful online, so everyone assumes that means you’re happy IRL, as well.
10. You refuse to see a therapist. You know you need one. You know it would help. But you don’t have the money or the time or the willpower to actually visit one. So you suffer alone.
11. You casually talk about tragedies. When you actually open up about your issues, you act like they’re no big deal. Like they don’t make a difference to you. Like you haven’t been crying over them every night for a week.
12. You’ve learned how to lie well. If someone asks why you didn’t answer their texts or attend class, you don’t let them know it was because you spent the entire day in bed. You tell them you were out having the time of your life.
13. You keep secrets. When you engage in self-destructive behaviors, you do it on your own time. No one realizes that you’ve been getting drunk every night after work or have been having unprotected sex with strangers, because you keep it to yourself.
14. You cry alone. When you’re upset in public, you’ll find a private bathroom to bawl your eyes out in. And before you leave, you’ll splash your face with water and adjust your make-up. Your friends won’t even know the difference when they see you again.
15. You put other people first. Even if you have a close friend you can open up to, you won’t let her know about your problems until she’s told you all about her problems. And by the time she’s finished ranting, you don’t feel like saying anything anymore.
16. You’re fully functional. You still work. You still eat. You still sleep. You still see your friends. You do everything a twenty-something should be doing, so no one realizes anything is out of the ordinary.