I have lived with depression for so long now, even I don't know what is "normal" for me any more. How much more difficult then must it be for those who love me to gauge my mood, to know whether this time the decisions I'm making are based on what I really want or if I'm just recklessly letting others direct my actions without realising it? The elephant in the room is my illness and they don't want to mention it but are always watching me, judging my behaviour against a scale I can't see; to try and protect me, care for me, stop me spiralling downwards. As a result I'm defensive, secretive and see slights where none were meant. Sadly this means I avoid my family a lot of the time. They live far away (or to be more accurate, I do) so I can't physically see them very often but I even avoid calling so that I don't hear the worry (am I ill? am I well? am I finding things too difficult to cope?) or the judgement (is my partner treating me well enough? have I made yet another bad choice? why don't I call more often, does it mean I'm ill or that I don't care for them enough?) in their voices that is either really there or is there only in my imagination.
I love my family and I know they love me and that their concern is because they love me, not because they are trying to pick fault in my life. When they suggest things it's because they are trying to make my life easier or better, not because they think I'm doing everything wrong. Knowing all this why can I not feel it? Why do I retreat into a defensive, hurt shell and feel that I was right all along and I'm useless at everything - for why else would they need to criticise? (I'm sure they're not really criticising, it's my own mindset that makes me feel that they are).
When they ask "And how are you?", I want to die. I feel so guilty for making them worry about me, I feel so pathetic for not showing them that obviously I'm fine; just like everyone else; life? Hell yeah, I can do that! ... only I can't, not really, and they know that just as well as I do. The elephant is always there, sometimes in the midst of us all making it impossible not to see, even if no-one actually mentions it, other times it wanders off into a corner of the room, not so visible but still there; always there.