When I was younger I always got compliments on my smile and laugh. As I got older, life introduced new struggles and more dark days than bright ones. I remember one time I was sitting in one of my classes my freshman year of high school and something really funny was said. And it took everything in me to fake a small smile. The whole class was laughing at whatever was going on and I even had friends in that class, yet I felt absolutely alone.I wanted to run out of the room because I felt like a compete outsider – just watching life pass by and not living in it. I was so depressed. I was self harming. I had begun to develop bulimia. The depression isolated me from every day life and every person I cared about. It created this Lexie I didn’t even know. To this day, I still have to fight back at this “depressed Lexie” persona. It’s incredibly hard. Some days I just want to give up and not try and numb out.I’m learning now in early, more solid recovery that though I often put myself down for “wasting time” or not putting everything into relationships or not taking good care of myself I can’t beat myself up over something I couldn’t control and something I just needed more support around. And it wasn’t my fault. Along with that thinking, I’ve been able to let go of some anxiety around expressing my true emotions.Emotions are not wrong. And me pushing them down or depression taking over wasn’t healthy. So I now have to unlearn these behaviors. Sometimes I laugh too loudly because I overcompensate for all that lost time I could have been happy. And sometimes I can’t smile or laugh at all, and that’s okay. I’m still learning to find a balance in all of this and that’s okay. I love my smile because I can show it more freely now. This smile is no longer a mask.