We all have that friend. Or we’ve given birth to that child.
You know her…or him.
The encourager. The one who send motivational text messages and prayers each morning. The one who will call and say, “You came across my mind…is there anything I can pray on your behalf this week?”
The one who always smiles, listens, and does not judge.
The one who has a magnificent “glass-half-full” view of life.
The one who has energy so infectious, it can be uplifting and overwhelming at the same time.
The one who probably uses a lot of emojis, Bitmojis, or GIPHY images.
The one who without-a-doubt has your back. Is your ride or die. Will go 0-100 in a matter of seconds for you and your family.
Let me take a moment to introduce you that person in my life. Hello. I am Toni (or Twilli, because it sounds happier).
I am that friend.
I am this bouncing penguin.
I am not condescending.
I am hilarious. If I’m not, it will be hilarious to watch me trying to be hilarious.
I am a hugger.
I will look really hard to find the silver lining.
I will forgive.
I am happy.
But there’s also a flip side.
I am the one who does not like to talk about my issues until they are over.
I am the one who will try to do all the things all times of day and night and have a total meltdown because I am tired. My Facebook friends may have heard about my Christmas rant this year related to my daughter’s optometrist appointment because we were packing for a week in Chicago, and the weather was cold, and my mother kept asking me about the sleeping arrangements for all the cousins at Christmas.
I am the one who can not articulate what support I need in a stressful or tense situation. I may have written about that once.
I am the one who instantly jumps into problem-solving mode when there’s a crisis, but falls apart rather easily when there’s a minor hiccup in the plans. Most recently (like last weekend), it happened because I spilled gravy all over MY HAIR, I had six loads of laundry to do, and I needed to do some homeschool lesson plans. The hair thing was the biggest issue. For real.
I am the one who sometimes forgets to seek God’s will and direction first when I’m in planning and event mode. Yep, I’ve written about that before too.
I am the one who thinks I should know better and be able to handle it when the little things get to me because I do so well at handling the big crises.
I am the one who has some scars from previous relationships where I’ve been told: 1. I have to manage it all with dignity and without tears; 2. I should already know that stress comes with life and I should just get over it; 3. I knew what I was getting into when I ______ so I shouldn’t complain; 4. Because I’m happy all the time, it’s heart-wrenching to see me upset about something, so I should avoid crying so those around me can be happy, and 5. People don’t know whether or not to hug me or hit me when I’m going through something because I typically never go through anything. Ummm….hitting is NEVER an option here. Neither is saying something like that. Especially if you want to be my friend.
Here’s the thing. I know this is dangerous. I know this can be challenging to love someone like this. I know it’s hard to have this person as your mother. I know it’s hard to be the mother of this person. I know it because I see the effects it has on the people in my love circles. And I also know that more times than not, the always-happy person is the one you need to pay close attention to when it comes to depression.
There is actually a thing – a real thing – in psychology called smiling depression. According to an article by Dr. Rita Labeaune in Psychology Today, “The smile and external façade is a defense mechanism, an attempt to hide their true feelings. A person could be experiencing sadness about a failed relationship, career challenges, or lacking what they view as a true purpose in life. The sadness might also manifest as a constant, overall feeling that “something just isn’t right.”
So while I pray about and work on these things about my own personality, I realize that you may have this person in your life and it’s a challenge. Here’s what you can do to help them (or yourself if the shoe fits)…before, during, and after the trials.
- The encourager needs encouragement. They may or may not be able to communicate it. Give it too them anyway. Encourage them during the good times and the bad.
- Remind them of who they are in Christ. The truth is, when they start feeling down, nothing you say will help…remind them it is what God says that matters. A good place to start is Psalm 139:14
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
- Tell them they don’t have to do all the things. It’s okay to just do one thing…or the next thing…or take some additional time to pray about a situation before you do anything.
- Don’t be suprised at how far a smile and/or a hug can reach. We live for smiles and hugs. We love them. They make all the difference in the world. If we’re smart, we even learn how to say, “I just want to hug you right now.”
- If God tells you (or them) to take a break from something or someone, DO IT. The worst thing you can do ignore God’s instructions. #Obedience #AskmehowIknow
- Remember that not every text message deserves a reply, and not every missed call deserves a call back (especially if they don’t leave a message and don’t follow up with a text). Furthermore, tell people how you like to communicate best. They may or may not respond because they have to do what’s best for them, but you can free yourself for being responsbile for the communication styles of others.
- Unequally yoked can refer to more than romantic relationships and if that is the case, then you may need to evaluate someone’s role in your life. A genuinely happy person who is surrounded by pessimists, angry, and narcissistic people is going to self-combust, just from being around that kind of negativity. Don’t. Do. It.
- Seek professional help. Do the research. See a therapist. Get religious counsel. Any or all of the above. My friend Tiffany is one of the best mental health advocates that I know. She started a non-profit last year to educate, encourage, and empower those living with depression. Her organization, Blind Faith, is based in Chicago but her reach spans across miles. Click here to learn more. Also the National Alliance on Mental Illness can be another great resource and has chapters across the United States.
So tell me…do you have an always-happy person in your life? Is it you?