There is a darkness inside of me. A deep, relentless sadness. It has been there for countless years- I don’t even know for how long. Old friends who pay attention would tell you that it’s just who I am.

I can hide it well enough most days behind a wall of jokes and deflections. If you make people laugh they assume you are happy. Tell them that you meditate regularly and they start to ask for your secrets to peace and joy. Here’s my secret: I’m a complete mess. My head is full of despair and my heart screams in pain when it isn’t numb. But I keep it pretty numb. There are plenty of distractions in life if you’re looking for them.

It’s a sadness that can’t be shaken, no matter how many reasons for joy present themselves. Where did it come from? I either don’t know or don’t want to admit. But there it is in the mirror, staring back at me with those eyes that say “Liar”. Fraud. Thief. Unworthy.

Anti-depressants didn’t help. They just pushed it down a little further and took other pieces of me that I’d prefer to keep. They say that exercise and eating right make you feel better, but they are idiots. If I could get out of the bed in the morning and make good choices then I’d be normal, not this disaster. Some days are better than others, but it gets pretty bad.

I disappear when no one else is around. I sit on the couch and halfheartedly think of all the things I could or should do with my time but all I really do is wait. I turn off and conserve my energy for the next time I am required to spin back up and interact with someone else. I imagine that other people have hobbies and fulfilling personal lives. All I have is The Show. And the show must go on.

If I’m being really honest, it’s not sadness that I struggle with. It’s fear.

What if I fail? What if I let you down? What if everything falls apart and it’s all my fault? I can’t let you know what’s really going on. I can’t be honest or authentic– I’m a monster inside. Keep them away, keep them outside. Quick, tell a joke. Change the subject. Get sick and stay home. Find someone to blame. What if they find out? What if I fail?

I don’t say this to alarm or for attention. It’s just who I am.