Behind the Smile

by Rozella Haydée White, LEAD Consultant and author of Love Big: The Power of Revolutionary Relationships to Heal the World

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about accepting the parts of ourselves that we wish weren’t so…

Leadership is hard. So many of us know this to be true.

Some of the best leaders are also ones who struggle with mental illnesses. Leaders who are entrepreneurial, creative and visionary often live with anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. We have to acknowledge and talk about this. There is no shame in being a person who lives with mental illness. I have found that embracing this leads to a healthier life and invites others to do the same.

I’ve been battling a depressive season this year and I keep saying, “But I’m not depressed. I’m bathing. I’m functioning. I’m not suicidal!”

As a friend pointed out to me recently, not being at my worst doesn’t mean that I’m ok. It just means I’m not at my worst.

There’s a lot that has happened personally and professionally and one thing that I know to be true is when transition occurs in my life, depression makes itself known. And it’s not fair. It’s never fair.

There are so many things I want to do. So many dreams I have. So many ways I want to be. And I’m struggling with making all of it work together.

I’m mindful more now than I’ve ever been. And I know that the dreams and visions God has given me will come to pass. I believe this. I also believe that I can’t do everything at once. And that sometimes the best thing is to be, breathe, and focus.

So that’s what I’m going to do. And I will continue to make friends with my shadow side, my beloved depression that teaches me so much about myself and leads me deeper into compassion and gratitude, for myself and for others.

My smile means nothing more than my bravest attempt at showing up. And we know that those with the brightest smiles tend to carry the deepest sadness. Praying for you as I pray for me.

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Here are some resources I’ve found helpful.

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6 replies
  1. Eunice Woodberry
    Eunice Woodberry says:

    Rozella, thanks for this article. I felt like you were writing about me. I am one of those creative visionary people and it can be a burden. Thanks for acknowledging that.
    Eunice

    Reply
  2. Michael Button
    Michael Button says:

    I recommend Joshua Shenk’s “Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness.”

    Reply

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