Please don’t flinch when you read that. This post is all about getting myself to stop feeling that way, so please, don’t be scared to read on.
I’m ok, I swear. I know I’m ok.
But I’m also kind of not.
It has just been one of those times where no matter how many things I have going right in my life I’m having trouble finding the sun. All I can focus on are the slightly wrong things in my life.
And by “slightly wrong” I mean, “absolutely fucking ridiculous non-problems”. I mean how I said something in a funny voice one time and no one laughed and now they must all think I’m some kind of creep. I mean how I walked out of the bathroom with a piece of toilet paper stuck to my shoe in a crowded place and now everyone who was there is walking around thinking “God, did you see that girl? What a dirtball.” I mean how I stuttered when the cashier at the drugstore asked me how my day was going and now they must think I’m an idiot. The list goes on and on and on…
All of these little things that I say or do just pile up (and pile up… and pile up…) and I keep berating myself for all of them. Some of these things happened hours ago, some happened days ago, some moths ago, some years. It doesn’t matter how long ago it was, if I did something even slightly less than perfect, I can’t let myself go for it. I keep trying to tell myself how pointless it is to think so negatively, but it’s hard to keep the thoughts out of my head. They pop up at the most random times, when I’m doing the dishes, when I’m having a conversation, when I’m singing a song, playing the piano, walking to the drugstore, swinging at the park.
All of these little things bog me down and none of them – not a single one of them – matters to anyone but me.
I have never been diagnosed as having depression or anxiety because I feel like I snap out of this before medical intervention is necessary (and because I'm scared), but I know that’s what this is. People have actually tried to tell me that I’m not going through depression – that there’s no way I could possibly be because I’m always so bright and happy. I can’t describe it any better than this quote from Kat Kinsman’s article on CNN from last week as she describes one of her friends:
"We met in our freshman year of college, and he was one of the loudest, funniest, most exuberant humans I'd ever met -- and the most deeply depressed. Not that anyone outside our intimate circle knew; like many of us who live with the condition, he wore a brighter self in public to distract from the darkness that settled over him behind closed doors. Most people don't see depression in others, and that's by design. We depressives simply spirit ourselves away when we've dimmed so as not to stain those who live in the sun."
I’m a big believer in the philosophy “fake it until you feel it” – that idea gets me through these rough patches better than a lot of other options I’ve tried (like hiding in my bedroom, fighting with friends/family, watching angry movies, or doing other hurtful things) and usually I can pretend to be happy long enough that eventually I’ll start to believe it and I’ll regain actual happiness again.
But I know I’m a lot luckier than a lot of people who have depression or anxiety because I know this doesn’t work for a lot of you.
One of the best things we can do is talk about it.
As the author of the above article explains, it helps.
I’ve always felt like I had no right to talk about my depression and anxiety because mine is a lot subtler than most – but sometimes that’s just as dangerous. That also means there are probably a lot of other people out there who experience similar things and don’t know how to deal with the feelings they have, don’t know how to get help and don’t know how to keep looking forward to the brighter days and just might give into the feelings of darkness and not look back – because they don’t have “real depression” so they never seek out the help they need.
Luckily, I have a support system that helps me through my subtle, yet real, depression and anxiety.
About a month ago I hit rock bottom and I didn’t know what I was going to do other than to keep living in my little hole and just plead with the universe to make it all better. Then one night, I was having a conversation with Finny (one of my best friends) and I knew I had to tell him what I was going through. I said it quietly and my lip trembled and I even tried to brush it off by making it “not a big deal”, but he knows me well enough to see through all of those signs. He gave me a hug, let me talk through it and told me he loves me.
And it helped. Gods, did it help.
Then I told Francesca and her boyfriend and they both told me they love me and they hugged me and made me feel a little better. Then I told my brother and he told me he loved me and hugged me (virtually) and made me feel a little better. Finally, I started feeling a lot better and I was able to get out of my apartment again and get back into the real world.
But it’s still an uphill battle.
This weekend I tried to do too much and I got knocked down a peg again. So on Sunday when I was laying in a pool of depression, Luke (another of my best friends) came over to my apartment and watched guilty-pleasure shows with me for a few hours and held my hand and told me he loved me.
I’m thankful every day for my family and friends who help me through my most trying times. I’m thankful for my mother who helped me to notice the “trigger” signs of my depression long ago and how she and my dad keep me pointed in the right direction when times get toughest. I’m thankful for coworkers who understand my moods and know when I need space and when I don’t. I’m thankful for strangers who share smiles or words of encouragement just because they know where I’m coming from.
Finally, I’m thankful for me. I’m happy I know how to recognize the signs and that I’m becoming comfortable talking about my depression and anxiety. I’m thankful that I’m learning to forgive myself for it so that each time I start to slip I slip for a little less time and don’t get as low. I’m thankful that I’ve finally realized this is a part of me. I’m thankful for realizing that I need to love myself for my depression and anxiety just as much I love myself for my frizzy-hair and curves.
So today, now, I’m on the road to loving me again.
And I also love you. I want you to know I’m here for you if you need me.
Today's post also comes with a reading list if you want to hear more stories from people who are in the same shoes:
And I'm sure there are thousands more out there. Have any other stories you'd like to share? You can email them to me or leave them in the comments section.