Just a quick post today!
There are lots of really irritating things people say to you when you are suffering from depression. I think they are well-meaning, but thoughtless and rather ignorant of our situations. These can come from friends, family, church people, employers, anyone really, but there are few things more irritating.
The one I want to mention in this post is the “Smile!” thing.
This one often comes, for me, in the form of a stranger feeling the need to comment on my appearance. (I get other comments too – usually about my weight). When I have been very badly depressed I may be walking along somewhere, shopping, drinking in a bar: displacement activities to try to ease the depression, even just a little. However, I am still depressed and I really don’t appreciate it when someone (usually a man) comes up and says “Smile!” or things like “it’s not that bad!”
First of all, what do they know about my situation? I have depression, smiling isn’t going to make that go away!
Second, what gives them the right to comment on my appearance at all? What has it got to do with them? I don’t point out their big nose, what makes them want to point out that I don’t have some ecstatic look on my face at all times?
The F-Word Blog has a post where they link this phenomena to sexism, basically. They say that:
Another common stereotype of women is that they should be calm, quiet, happy and non-aggressive. They should always walk around with smiles on their faces, even when they have had a crappy day and do not feel like smiling. “It has happened a handful of times, when I am out walking, that random men on the street have felt like they have the right to tell me to “smile”. This angers me because I do not know these people and they are taking their gendered assumptions of women as always happy and smiley out on me. Leave me alone and I would be much happier”.
I personally have only been told to “smile” etc by men, so I would go with this really. But I don’t know whether men are also targeted, or whether women do that.
It is irritating, frustrating and just stop it. You may mean well, but it is unpleasant, particularly if you are depressed, to be essentially told to lighten up. So anyone reading who feels like they want to say that sort of thing – keep it to yourself.