The Scars We Don’t See

Have you ever looked at a person, be it somebody you know or a perfect stranger, and wondered what might be going on inside their head?

It’s not something I’ve done often where strangers are concerned, and, when it comes to people I know, I’d rather not make assumptions. It’s really quite annoying when somebody tells you to cheer up when you actually feel quite positive anyway. How many people have a resting face that looks happy? Probably not many.

The thing is that predicting a person’s emotions and thoughts is like throwing a stone into a large crowd of people and predicting which one of them it’ll hit. We might be able to tell that there’s something wrong in general; it’s not so easy to predict exactly what’s wrong and how they truly feel about it.

In some way, we’re all fighting something going on in our minds. Life is never so perfect that there’s absolutely nothing we’re slightly on edge about, even if we might not be consciously aware of it in every moment. Can anyone genuinely say with complete conviction that there’s nothing bad or even slightly off-centre going on in their life? We’re all concerned about something or another, no matter how big or small.

Nowadays, mental health is taken with greater seriousness than ever before. Things like depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc., are finally being treated as genuine illnesses. It wasn’t that long ago when medical experts didn’t even know they existed. In a lot of ways, it’s a really good thing. People can be given the correct kind of treatment to deal with the issues via medication and/or talking therapy, not to mention a host of ways in which they can improve their own ways of thinking. In some ways, it’s not so good. I feel these illnesses are probably too easily diagnosed. Many people seem to be on antidepressants. I wonder if they’re too easily prescribed when suggesting lifestyle changes might be all it takes. I don’t know; I’m just thinking out loud.

Depression has come extremely close to home of late. It’s consumed my mum as she continues her fight against cancer. It’s consumed my sister, who’s in a constant state of worry about my mum. It’s consumed me too. Life simply got too hard to deal with on a mental level. I won’t go into great detail, but there have been so many changes in recent months and so many different stressors that my willpower alone became insufficient to fight it all off. I am now a member of the Anti D Club. I started on 20mg of Citalopram before being changed to 60mg of Duloxetine.

NHS Depression Description
Quote from NHS website

In all honesty, I’ve never truly understood depression and anxiety. I still don’t really. I have them both and have read a tonne of material on them; I still don’t really know what’s going on. I’m a logical thinker. The way my mind works can be summed up with this simple equation: you have a problem, find the right way to fix it, apply the fix, solve your problem, crack on. In theory, it really is as simple as that. All problems can be solved if approached the right way.

So, why have I been beaten down into submission by depression? Why am I currently taking medication in order to help soothe me through this mental crisis I’m experiencing? I just don’t know. I don’t know why I can’t fight it alone using just my willpower. I don’t know why I can’t continue to look at things in the logical light I once did. I don’t know why my emotions have got the better of me. I just don’t know!

I know there are things that could happen that would immediately improve my situation. The likelihood of all these things happening is slim. It requires either hard work that I just don’t have the mental and emotional energy for, or the one thing I’ve never had much of: luck! I try to avoid anything where luck is involved because it comes to me in very minute doses and never when I need it. I don’t play the lottery. I’d rather keep the money than spend it vainly wishing for something that simply isn’t going to happen. In fact, I don’t gamble at all. All that’ll happen if I do is I’ll lose money. I hate relying on luck for anything.

As well as taking Duloxetine, I’m attempting to make positive changes. Even some of these changes fill me with dread. That’s because, as well as having depression, I also have anxiety. I want to rent my own place; I’m worried sick I won’t be able to afford to live. I want a better paying job; I’m worried nobody will deem me worthy of such a job. I’ve submitted my novel to publishers and agents; I’m worried I’ll get rejected by everyone. I approach everything I do with fear and it really irritates me. I won’t even answer the phone unless I know who it is or if I’m expecting the call. It’s crippling. It really is. Living this way just isn’t nice.

NHS Anxiety Description
Quote from NHS website

How do you shake that fear of everything? How do you stop being anxious about stuff? Is a pill really supposed to stop all that? Or proactivity? I can’t see how it will. I’ve always been wary and afraid to take chances in case I fail. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember. I genuinely don’t foresee that ever changing.

Do people see all of this when they look at me? Is it written on my face? I feel it all over me at all times. It seeps out of my pores.

Then I look at other people. All I see is a face. I just see another human being. They could be thinking and feeling anything. I have no way of knowing what. Could they be going through as much mental torture and anguish as I do? Do they emotionally self-flagellate as well? Are they looking at me thinking the same thing?

I’m battered, bruised, and scarred. Nobody can see it though. The blemishes aren’t visible. They rest in my head, in my broken brain. When they see me on the bus or walking down the street and I look a little disconnected it’s because I’m trying to fix myself and heal the wounds. Right now, I don’t know if I’ll ever be fully mended.


Are you feeling low? Speak to your GP as soon as you can for help and advice. Alternatively, if you’re in the UK, visit the Samaritans website or call them on 116 123 twenty-four hours a day, three hundred and sixty-five days a year. If you’re in the US, visit Samaritans USA or call 1800 273-TALK. They’re always there if you need somebody impartial to talk to.

9 thoughts on “The Scars We Don’t See

  1. This post challenged me to think in a way I hadn’t before (thank you for that!). Your discussion of wondering if people see your mental scars written all over your face, and the introduction where you talk about people saying to just cheer up and smile, has got me thinking. It’s made me realize that I think I have a tendency to do the opposite. I’ve realized that I tend to make the (completely illogical) assumption that people I meet have pretty much perfect lives, unless and until they inform me otherwise. I can’t say that I ever look at someone’s face and think to myself, “man he looks sad, he really should smile more.”

    Of course, as you say, absolutely no one has a perfect life. Sure, some people’s lives are significantly healthier and more satisfying than others’, but absolutely no one has a perfect life. I just try my best to reason with myself when I find myself assuming someone’s life is pretty close to perfect.


  2. The fact you’ve started taking steps to fight this is something to very proud of. It takes a lot of courage to admit you’re not doing well, and reaching out, getting counselling, ect… are all good things.
    I’ve been there. Anxiety, depression, I struggle with them, and I can tell you that counselling is a wonderful, valuable tool that is going to help equip you to fight this battle.
    One thing I’ve learned is that when it feels like I’ve hit rock bottom is to look up, because that’s the only way to go. Learning that I’m here for a reason, that I have value, that I’m loved, gives me strength to push forward, no matter what that nagging voice in my head might say.
    I believe in you, Paul. I wish I could say it to you instead of write it. I believe in you. This will not be the end of you! Never feel bad when life has smacked you around; you’re human. To feel emotion, to struggle, like you said, it’s okay. You’ve got this. I believe in you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your support, both in terms of my writing/blogging and as a friend. This month is as much about me reaching out for help from others as it is offering advice and support to those who need it. I really feel it’s my duty to raise awareness and convince people that struggling isn’t something to be ashamed of. I commend you for the fight you’ve put up against mental health issues and I hope you continue to disallow it from beating you into submission.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It sounds like you’ve already taken so many positive steps to better your life whether you give yourself credit for it or not. I know it’s not an easy thing and I am so glad you have.
    Reading this, I just wanted to give you a big congratulatory hug and tell you it will only get better.
    You’ve put a lot of yourself in this post and I really admire you for it. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, depression and anxiety. Two things I know intimately. I’m sorry that you’re struggling so much lately. The thing with medication, I believe, is that it’s not enough on it’s own. Which is why I agree with you that doctors over prescribe drugs. They also fail to mention that a combination of medication and therapy would be more beneficial. Some people don’t need medication, but do need therapy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Therapy and, often, a change in lifestyle. So many people are on paths of self-destruction and don’t even realise it: poor diet; inactivity; self-containment; crutches that they think ease the problem but only exacerbate it in the long run (drinking, smoking, drugs, etc.); no set goals to aim for. The list could go on. It’s as much within a person as anything. Making changes and pursuing worthwhile things have helped me a damn sight more than the Duloxetine. I’ve also begun phone counselling.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly that. If a person isn’t doing the actual work in therapy, it’s pointless to go. That’s the goal of therapy after all. It’s not just a place you go to in order to vent. It’s hard, personal work!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think, honestly, that some people are just a bit too lazy for therapy. They realise the hard work involved and immediately baulk. What they don’t realise is that laziness is greatly exacerbating their problems.

        Liked by 1 person

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