Behind my smiles, there’s a battle I’ve been trying to win for the longest time. It is a battle I’ve been trying to hide; it is a war inside my head that my loved ones cannot see. It brings wounds that would never heal and battle scars that would never be seen.

For the past year, a friend visited and stayed with me.

That friend was a thief.

He stole my inner peace and changed it with a lot of over thinking and doubts. He stole my self worth and self love that I built for years and labeled me as unworthy and not chosen. He stole my excitement when I spend time with my friends and family and changed it with fear, fear that they would eventually give up on me. He stole my happiness and told me that it’s bound to fade, that I was destined to be lonely and alone.

But still, I chose to be with him. I still chose him to be my friend.

Then, I discovered that he was a monster. The ‘good night’ sleeps I used to love turned to moments of lying down and wondering about my existence at 3 am because he constantly scares and bombards me with thoughts such as am I good enough for my dream, am I worthy of love, will I pass as one of the ‘deserving people’. My friend attacked me quietly and almost killed me in the middle of the night. He would make me cry and let my pillows be soaked in tears.

During my victories, my achievements and my happy moments, I thought this was it; I finally won’t see my friend anymore. I started to smile awkwardly and about to celebrate because I was finally free. But after a moment, he sat beside me, reminding and telling me that I am a failure and a disappointment.

With all of that happened, I still let him be my friend.

One day, he was up for a new adventure. “Let’s go inside the dark cave, he said.”

He told me that in that cave I can create my own world, that no one would see me fail. But the catch is, I should go alone, I need to push my loved ones and friends away from me, I need to isolate myself and just be alone. I said yes, of course.

Slowly, I started pushing people away and stayed inside my dark cave, thinking that no one would love and accept me again.

My friend’s name is DEPRESSION.

Depression is sleeping for 14 hours straight or just 2 hours, no in between. But no matter how many hours of sleep you get, you still feel exhausted.

It’s finishing a whole bag of chips, a tub of ice cream and a bottle of soda or drinking a drop of water for the whole day, because you were busy being sad and didn’t have time to eat.

It’s the tears you try to hide because of fear that people might ask you why you are crying and you can’t give them a decent answer rather than “I just feel like crying.”

Depression is that dark cloud that follows me everywhere. And even in those happy moments, you look forward to; you know it’s still above you. Depression waits. It creeps and consumes you. It waits for the best day of your life and your happiest moment just so that cloud can finally release rain and the happiness you felt a minute ago will shift to a feeling of coldness and being alone and abandoned.

Depression made me feel addicted to anything that gives me purpose and satisfaction, from being the top student in school or the class officer who tries to finish everything and meet deadlines. It’s a feeling of fulfillment when you are a part of an organization because you need reason to wake up every morning.

It’s the need of having things to work and think about because if your mind is idle, you’ll spend too much time over thinking and hating yourself more.

Depression is looking refuge in the wrong places and trying to fill that empty feeling with material things, food, toxic love or a wrong kind of attention.

But more than that, depression is having that motivation to be someone’s ray of sunshine in her gloomy day, because their smile is my smile, too.

Depression is trying to appreciate light in the darkest places.

Today, I will try to smile again. No scratch that. I will smile again.

Oh, about my dark cave. I painted it pink.

Behind my smiles is a story of brave, beautiful young woman who chose to live today and still tries to unfollow her old friend, depression.

To my guidance counselors, Ms. Carla, Ms. Kaye and Ms. Kath. Thank you. Thank you for the love you planted in my heart, for listening and being my friend during my sad days. Finally, I had the courage to write about this.  Love you!

To my friends who pushed me to publish this, Ate Arvian, Ate Elaine, Ate Jemie, Camille, Geni Pearl, Crisel,  Patrick T. and Shane. Thank you for believing in me, guys.

This is for you, my FGH Youth babies. Ate Ella is always here for you!

Special thanks to Dr. Gia Sison. Thank you for inspiring me to keep going! This is inspired by your tweets. Hello there, beautiful heart.

To to the person who’s reading this right now, if you need someone to talk to, please DM me on twitter @marinellabeee or send me an email You are beautiful!