xmas decoration

Perfectly Hidden Depression. A depression you know is there. You feel it in your gut. You know something is wrong.

But either you don’t know how to express pain, or you’ve hidden it from yourself for so long that you deny its presence, you act as if everything is wonderful.

In fact, perfect.

What does it look like at the holidays?

Your house could be the featured story in a design magazine, flocked in greenery and ribbons from floor to ceiling, the sugary smell of Christmas cookies in the air.

The gifts are wrapped in matching paper, and piled up under a 12 foot Christmas tree, loaded with special ornaments. The kids’ outfits for church are ready to go. Donations to charities have been given. Gifts have been picked out, not just for friends, but for anyone who might drop by.

Champagne is cooling for the annual, and highly touted, New Year’s celebration.

It’s another Perfectly Hidden holiday.

Someone with Perfectly Hidden Depression may feel good about the accomplishment of all these things. There’s a kind of solace, or even pride, that your life and your family’s life seems full. You like being a giver, someone who looks out for others.

Yet there’s something missing.


The tremendous effort, the worry that things won’t get done, the need for everything to be perfect, drowns out any true joy.

Joy is spontaneous. It comes from deep within and spills into the present, in a wild torrent or a warm glow. It can’t be planned or even always predicted.

Joy gives life to a moment.

If you are hiding depression, if you are putting up a daily facade of what you believe looks perfect, you won’t know joy.

joyBecause you can’t just be.

You’ll be playing a role, instead of being who you are. You’ll be “the hostess,” the “son-in-law,” “Andrea’s mom,” or “Jeff’s boss.” Instead of being those things, and allowing whatever happens to happen, you’ll try to intentionally craft the perfect hostess, son-in-law, parent, or boss.

Joy will only arrive as some muted version of itself, as you watch yourself play out your duties.

And that’s what life can become. One duty after another duty after another duty.

But you can stop.

You can breathe in the moment. You can decide to be present. You can realize that your value is not all about what you perform or accomplish. You can connect with whatever pain you have, perhaps slowly at first, as you begin to understand that in acknowledging it, working through it, there can come tremendous relief.

You can stop being who you think you’re supposed to be, or what role you’re playing, and be who you are.

Joy is waiting for you around the corner.


You can now listen to Dr. Margaret as she talks about Perfectly Hidden Depression and many other topics on her new podcast, SelfWork with Dr. Margaret Rutherford. Click here!

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