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9 Paths That Lead To Perfectly Hidden Depression

paths that lead to perfectly hidden depression

5) You are the “star” of your family.

You were highly praised for your successes, “You never disappoint me.” You’re labeled the smart one, the athletic one, the accomplished one. “He can do anything he sets his mind to.” You felt as if you could never fail or falter. The pressure of your childhood was immense; that pressure may have been cultural as well. It was your job to “do better” in life or to make your family proud.

Or perhaps because of racism, sexism, or other ethnic issues, you literally wouldn’t have gotten the chances you did if not for truly being better, smarter, more hard-working. You keep the thumb in your back, pushing and prodding yourself constantly. Vulnerability, struggle, not hitting the mark — all of that is unacceptable. And actually — can seem quite foreign to you. 

Related: 10 Signs You’re A Perfectionist and How To Overcome

6) You are male.

You were taught that it’s unmanly to admit any kind of vulnerability. Your male role models had lived that way, or maybe you grew up in a highly gender-stereotyped environment or culture, where men and women had different rules or expectations.

You put up a huge front of stoicism because to do otherwise would be mocked as weak, and thus you hid the normal human range of emotions, pretending to always be strong, capable, and in charge.

9 Paths That Lead To Perfectly Hidden Depression
Perfectly hidden depression and perfectionism

7) You weren’t allowed to express painful emotion. 

Things happened, even painful things like death, divorce, or disappointment, but no one talked about the pain of those losses. You were hushed for crying, punished for showing anger, sent to your room if you looked upset, “Don’t come down until you get yourself together.” “Don’t air your dirty laundry in public.”

You were never comforted or supported for feeling hurt, lost, or confused. So you hushed and stopped asking for comfort; there was none there. You stuck whatever hurt you had far away, and became an expert at denying its presence. 

8) You felt (or feel) responsible for a parent’s happiness or fulfillment.

Your parent said things like, “I don’t know what I’d do without you.” “There’s no one who understands me as you do.” You feel as if it’s your job to emotional prop up that parent, so you have to be ever-constant, ever-caring.

This undo responsibility is called enmeshment. No child truly has the power to bring fulfillment or contentment to a parent. But you can be manipulated into believing that that is your job. How can you ever leave if it’s your job to make a parent happy? So you may stay locked into that role, either hiding your own struggles or over-sharing them, because the boundaries between you and your parent are quite vague.

Your life can become a tangle of hidden secrets. If you do move to another city or take a job that keeps you busy, you walk around feeling an odd sense of guilt — simply because you grew up.

Related: Escaping The Matrix of Depression: The Hidden Antidote That Will Set You Free

9) The culture of the family was influential.

There’s a vast amount of difference between countries and cultures in what is stressed or allowed emotionally. Whether your ethnicity is Scottish, Chinese, Hispanic, or South African, it’s possible that your response to painful emotions was shaped by cultural influences.

You mimicked how the adults around you behaved; that is what children do in order to remain safe.

We all hurt; it’s part of being a human being. You don’t have to hide.

Check out Dr. Margaret Rutherford’s best-selling book, Perfectly Hidden Depression on Amazon.

Written By Dr. Margaret Rutherford 
Originally Appeared On Dr. Margaret Rutherford 
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9 Paths That Lead To Perfectly Hidden Depression
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9 Paths That Lead To Perfectly Hidden Depression
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Dr. Margaret R Rutherford

Dr. Margaret Rutherford, a clinical psychologist, has practiced for twenty-six years in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Earning the 2009 Arkansas Private Practitioner of the Year award for her volunteer work at a local free health clinic, she began blogging and podcasting in 2012 to destigmatize mental illness and educate the public about therapy and treatment. With her compassionate and common-sense style, her work can be found at, as well as HuffPost, Psych Central, Psychology Today, The Mighty, The Gottman Blog and others. She hosts a weekly podcast, The SelfWork Podcast with Dr. Margaret Rutherford. And her new book, Perfectly Hidden Depression: How to Break Free from the Perfectionism that Masks Your Depression, is published by New Harbinger and available at Amazon, Barnes, and Noble or your local bookstore.View Author posts