Oh, we talk about it in a global sense. Depression and mental illness are everywhere in television, print and prescription ads for Cymbalta and the one with the windup doll (or is that Cymbalta?). But in our own little lives, sadness and depression of any sort are still so taboo. We don't allow ourselves to be sad. Or, we don't allow ourselves to be visibly sad. We are expected to "get over" things so quickly and never, never be anything less than cheery.
My grandmother died recently. I didn't cry. I guess there are a lot of reasons why I didn't cry, but one of the biggest ones was that no one else was crying either. No one else wanted to appear sad, to admit they had experienced a loss. I teared up at her grave, but didn't break. I sat around blankly and watched a lot of TV as an escape, but only when no one was around. I couldn't be seen as weak, after all. But I didn't cry. I didn't want to have to explain my sadness, or to defend it. I didn't think anyone wanted to watch me wallow in it. But here's the thing: I was sad. I'm still sad. I'm sad a lot. I'm not just sad about my grandmother. But I'd never admit that in mixed company.
Everything in my life is not perfect. Everything in my life is not jolly. When someone asks me how I am doing, I always answer the same way: "Fantastic." I'm not really fantastic. In fact, if you were to take a poll, I am probably fantastic about 12% of the time, maybe less. But I say it every time. Why? Because no one wants to talk about feeling any differently. My brother and I used to love a comedy routine by Paul Reiser where he says when people ask how you are doing, they are really requesting that you "register that I asked, and then proceed not to tell me". So I have my stock answer, and I move on.
I'm not a miserable person, and I don't believe in dumping my sadness onto everyone. We all know plenty of people who have become, probably because they can't speak about their real emotions, completely inappropriate over sharers. The cashier at 7-11 who proceeds to tell you about the hellacious fight she had with her boyfriend the night before, the Facebook friends who post every mundane and excruciating detail of their existence in the hopes that someone gives a crap, the acquaintance who shares with a group that she got into a fist fight with her neighbor, and I could go on and on. Do we do this because we can't be real with the people we should be being real with? When did actual emotions become such a taboo?
I don't know how to end this. I don't have a point, or a solution. I just feel sad. And if you love me, you probably should know that.