This is a topic I’ve been avoiding for years, but tonight, in one of the biggest inexplainable lows I’ve had in a long time, I’ve decided it’s time to face the music. I never wanted, and still don’t, want to place the unbearable weight of my problems on anyone. Even when I was with my ex, I never told her about my depression because I can’t bear the thought of knowing someone else has to know just how miserable I can be, when I have no reason to be miserable at all. I’m venting a lot in this, but maybe someone will find this useful, because I’ve never been able to tell anyone just how exactly my depression has haunted me and how often I have even disregarded it to avoid feeling ‘overdramatic’ since I “have it so good.”
I can’t remember when exactly the emotionless grasp of depression first came into my life, but it has continued to have an affair with my emotions since I was a teenager. The absolute self loathing, extreme sense of loneliness, the hopelessness, and feeling of being an utter and complete failure for nothing at all has continued to appear and vanish from my daily life. How can I sit here and complain about my life, when I have a great one? Why then am I sitting in bed alone, crying over the fact that I am a failure, that I am alone, that I’ll never be happy again, that I’m just faking it through my life with my smiles and jokes? I wish I knew.
I’ve often thought to myself, that I don’t have depression. That it’s just a word people use too loosely and it’s meant for someone who is really suffering and needs help; but this notion is damaging. It’s damaging because how can we allow ourselves to heal if we continue to dismiss our issues? For years I’ve been avoiding confrontning my misery, purely because I knew I had no reason to feel this way. I was surrounded by friends, fun nights drinking, and graduating high school was just around the corner. I live in a first world country. I had a great job. I never went to bed hungry. Why in the hell should I be so miserable then? But when I look back at the hazy memories of waking up alone on a couch with the stale taste of alcohol on my tongue, why did I look in the mirror and wonder if this was it. Why did I sit out on the fire escape, cigarettes in hand, crying because I couldn’t feel anything anymore?
Although it has arguably gotten better, on nights like tonight those memories emerge and remind me that this battle isn’t over. I’m reminded that I am a failure, that I’ll never be good enough, that maybe the world would be a better place without me in it- I could never disappoint anyone again, I’d never have to bear the pressure of life again, I would never be hurt by someone I love again. I’d never have to struggle with the unknown of my life, the process of growing and learning and trying to prove to the world that I’m good enough, and they should take a chance on me.
I have fairly strong social anxiety; the type where I rehearse what I’ll say to the cashier, where I’m nervous to go near a large group of people who all know each other, where answering a phone call causes my heart rate to sky rocket. I love socializing; do not get me wrong. I love meeting people, traveling, not knowing anyone in a room- but the same confidence I fall into from time to time in these instances is also the same pit of anxiety I am dragged back into. I’m constantly apologizing for who I am, because I don’t feel that I’m good enough. I’m always smiling and joking- because I am extremely happy. But I’m also extremely miserable, and want to make fun of all the insecurities I have, all the things that when I’m in a low, haunt me.
When my depression decides to appear, it comes back like an unwelcome friend, one you used to be close with but knew it was a matter of time before you burnt out. The overwhelming sense of infinite nothing rips my heart to pieces, and all I can do is think about everything I’m not happy with- which in these moments is everything, and how different things would be if I weren’t here anymore. All I can do is feel an extreme lack of nothing and cry. It doesn’t matter that I just had a night of incredible sex, it doesn’t matter that I just had an incredible night drinking and smoking, playing games and laughing with incredible people. I was purely happy then; I just feel numb and isolated. That’s what fucking sucks the most. I appreciate these people more than words could ever express. But in these moments, I feel nothing but a sense of lack or will to be.
Acknowledging that I can be miserable, but that the misery I feel does not reflect who I am, is helping. I’m used to hearing, “you have it so good,” which over time has invalidated any emotions I feel that are not desirable. I’m naturally bubbly, I’m naturally happy. I’m naturally genuinely looking out for people and wanting to help them- but when it comes to myself? I let myself cry, I let myself feel that what I’m feeling is true. I believe that I’m a failure because I’m insecure, I believe that I’ll never be truly happy because I don’t deserve it for being such a failure- even though I am far from it. I’m constantly creating, thinking, trying new things, and learning. I’m constantly trying to work on myself and make things better for my own health. I’m constantly optimistic even when the universe shits on my dreams. But in these lows, and even normally, I disregard this. I don’t look in the mirror and see someone who is truly happy, or deserving of happiness because there is something I’m missing, that I can’t quite place my finger on. I believe the word is confidence, but I’m not completely sure myself.
When I look at the mirror, I see someone who is awkward, who shoots for jobs, women, and dreams that are far too out of my league. Who is a burden to anyone I talk to, who is a burden even to myself. But I am so much more than any of this. I am an incredible friend, and although I have made mistakes, I have people’s best interests at heart. I am an incredible lover, and I would do anything for the person I love because I just want them to be happy. I am attractive, and I need to stop putting myself down. I do dream too much, but that isn’t a bad thing- it means I’m not afraid to strive for something great. The women I do fall for, which are very rare because it takes a lot for me to fall for anyone-how can I not think they’re out of my league when they have a beautiful soul and are so incredibly beautiful on the outside? How could I be lucky enough to make her feel the same way about silly ol’ me? But I need to acknowledge being out of my league isn’t a thing- that the people I fall for are incredible, but I am too, and if they don’t see it, we weren’t meant to be.
I’ve learned even now that a lot of conquering depression is realizing that you are worth more than you could ever imagine. I’m not going through a rough breakup right now, I’m not experiencing a close family death, and I’m not struggling at the minute. But my feelings are valid and I have no reason to dismiss them simply because my current struggle may not be as bad as someone else’s- and that I am a person who is worthy of happiness, love, and more, even if I fail.
As a kid, my parents used to drill my brother and I with study guides and notes because they wanted the best for us. What I think it created though, is an inferiority complex. I learned at an early age that if I wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t good enough. I think in some ways, this emotionally created the pit of anxiety and depression I fall back into, where I feel I do not deserve anything because I am not perfect, but feel a need to be even though it is unattainable. I remember coming home with 97’s, and being told ‘great job’ but you could feel, you could see, that it wasn’t what they wanted- ‘you can always do better next time’. Sure, I’m not as great as some people with my talents, but I am still pretty damn good. Just because I’m not the best, doesn’t mean I am not great at what I do. I’ve associated confidence with cockiness for far too long as well, and still do. I’m 22 and I still feel guilty about being proud. It’s time to stop it!
I thought that after coming out, I would feel a sense of fulfillment. In some ways, I did, but I still felt empty in the end. When I had a girlfriend, I thought that emptiness would be filled; but it wasn’t. Now, even with great friends and a good life ahead, I still have that emptiness that plagues me. And now, on the verge of living in the real world with so much potential for anything, I’m realizing the emptiness I have felt is everything I’ve discussed above- that I haven’t had confidence, that I haven’t felt good enough, that I always feel the need to criticize myself and poke fun at every ounce of my being. That hollowness that I feel is because I’ve learned to not be happy with myself ever. There are moments where I do break through the constant need to shit on myself, but I’m generally shy, awkward, and demeaning towards myself. I think finding happiness in what you do and who you are is a major stepping stone in overcoming depression, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy.
At my new job for example, I didn’t think I was good enough, even though everyone was complimenting me and saying how quickly I picked up these new skills- how many others had failed even with much more experience than what I had. When I hang out with this girl, she tells me that she sees through my jokes and knows I’m trying to deflect my insecurities. It’s things like the above, where I’m constantly feeling less than because I’m seeing the version of myself no one else can see; the one I feel on the inside. Depression wants me, you, us all to feel unworthy of everything. But why be so hard on ourselves? So many people have called me out on it over the years. Why can’t I be confident and proud of what I do? Why do I have to compare myself to others and say, “it could be better” or “I shouldn’t complain, they have it much worse than me.” I need to stop feeling a need to compare myself to anything but my own standards, and we all need to stop feeling a need to compare ourselves to one another; we are all equally incredible, because we each have traits, skills, talents, and dreams that are uniquely beautiful. It’s ridiculous saying just because someone is an incredible artist that your own art is worthless. It’s ridiculous to dismiss your feelings, thoughts, and skills, just because someone else has it better or worse!
It’s ridiculous to believe you do not deserve to be happy, and instead deserve to be sitting alone in bed on a Saturday night crying because no one will ever love you and you’ll always be a loser working some dead end job for the rest of your life; because NONE of that is true. A job is a job and I’m not ashamed. I am worthy of love, and I need to start with loving myself. I’m working out and I’m going to start embracing the fact that it’s okay to think I’m attractive, that I look good. That it’s okay to take a fucking selfie and not make the caption a joke, but more so a “hey I feel confident!” I am worthy of love from another human being; if someone can’t love me for who I am, it is their loss. If someone can’t appreciate the world I offer them, I will find someone who will.
They say comedians are secretly depressed underneath all the laughs and humor, which I think is true, because I’ve been this way for a long time. Sitting here tonight, acknowledging it in text before myself, I feel like I’m owning up to this guilty secret I’ve held onto for years. That I’m acknowledging I do experience depressive slumps, but that it’s okay. That I can have an extreme low and help myself realize how it does not define who I am and that I can pull myself out of it. I’m realizing more than ever I just need to be confident and love myself.
I genuinely hope that whatever I have written tonight will help someone out there, because I am so sick and tired of trying to make myself feel better while glazing over the fact that in order to do so I really need to embrace my confidence and stop being so harsh about myself. Maybe you’re coming from a much worse, or better, situation- but you need to promise yourself to really reflect, to do what you can to vent- be it writing, singing, making music. You need to understand if you don’t feel good enough that you are so much more. I learned a long time ago to never let anyone make me feel like I was less than, but here, for the past 22 years, I’ve let myself be the only exception! I’m not saying this will cure my depressive episodes, or yours, but I think it will really help- because if our mindsets acknowledge that we are complete on our own, that we can be confident and proud and love ourselves, falling into an episode will be just a minor setback! As I was, I believed the episode because that’s how I feel about myself; but changing how I feel about myself means when the next episode comes around, I’ll be there to stand up to the bully that is depression; and I’ll be able to knock it the hell back because I know regardless of how it makes me feel, it has nothing on me.
If I can do it slowly, after 22 years, I know you can too.
I’m always around if anyone wants to talk about this, because I would be more than happy to listen and help in anyway I can. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders writing about this- and I really think this is what I needed to solidify the change I want to see in how I treat myself. We would never let anyone else treat us this way; why let us do it to ourselves?