“I wish I would have known she was depressed. I mean, she didn’t look like it.”

These are the words a friend texted me after hearing that a mutual acquaintance was hospitalized for severe depression.

Here are two pictures of me from the last two years. One of them is when I was in the middle of what a doctor called a “depressive episode” after a freak illness altered me chemically and emotionally, and the other when I was considered “cured.”

There Is Not One Face of Depression www.herviewfromhome.com

Can you tell the difference?

There’s a reason we say be kind to everyone you meet because you don’t know what battles they’re fighting.

There’s a reason we say appearances are deceiving.

There’s a reason we call them “invisible illnesses.”

Many people who face depression are also filled with shame. They do not share their feelings with anyone. They do not want to appear ungrateful for the life they lead or judged for their apathy. They do not know how to justify a sadness they themselves cannot explain.

So, how can we help?

Be kind to the mom who seems off or keeps canceling.

Don’t judge the woman who may dress differently or isn’t as friendly as you think she should be.

Offer help to the parent who seems overwhelmed.

Check in with friends, even when you feel like you can’t fit one more thing into your busy day.

And realize that you will rarely “see” that someone is depressed.

Because sometimes, they don’t even know themselves.

Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a communications consultant, and blogger. She tries to dispel the myth of being a typical suburban mom although she is often driving her minivan to soccer practices and attending PTA meetings. She writes about parenting, relationships, and w(h)ine on her blog Playdates on Fridays.