Depression is such a huge term to use, especially with the stigma surrounding mental health in our country. Your family simply can’t process the thought that you’re angry, sad, or depressed. When you start talking about your mental health with them, there’s usually a string of responses ready; as if they’re recorded. One of my personal favorites is: “Why are you so angry? You’ve got nothing to be angry about. You have a great family, you attend a prestigious university, and you’re young.” The best of them all, however, is: “You just like it when you feel weak, like people should feel sorry for you,” and the absolute cherry on top: “Stop mirroring the adults around you, you are not them. You’re better than this.” Sure; parents do this with the best of intentions, aiming to motivate you and make you feel better about yourself. What they don’t realize is that the constant securitization and belittling of your problems just ends up making you feel worse. Now there is a whole new component: guilt. Because when you think about it, they’re right; you don’t get to be angry or sad; you have a good life, you’re living better than most human beings on this planet, why are you complaining?
What is depression? I don’t think anyone truly knows. It has so many forms: a weight on your chest, constant social anxiety, an inability to laugh from the heart, not knowing your self-worth, not understanding why people see you as someone special. Are these even forms of depression? I am no therapist; I honestly have no idea. All I know is that I truly cannot find it in me to be positive or happy. The only time I am sort of okay is within these moments with my family or my friends but as of lately these moments are full of fake laughs and a prosthetic sense of happiness. What is happiness? What does it feel like? Am I happy and just don’t know it?
I don’t feel like a belong to my family anymore, so much that I’ve become the bad guy of the family. I don’t show up to family gatherings, which I used to consider holy. I come home late from university just to avoid my family’s disappointment. I don’t wake up for the weekly Friday breakfasts anymore. I’ve now become a stranger in my own home, and that is truly the worst thing that could happen to someone like me. I’ve always been a huge daddy’s girl; my dad’s my best friend and partner in crime, and now that too is gone. Is it far too late to save it? I have no idea, my dad is trying; he is heartbroken and I can’t help but torture myself for being such a huge disappointment.
The worse kind of scrutiny you can go through is the one that is self-inflicted. Trust me; I’ve been here for years. I’ll never be good enough, I never thought of myself as special. The only thing that I know I can truly do is write. Sometimes my self-confidence is through the roof, but most days I still struggle to get out of bed and out of the house. I change into a minimum of four outfits until I just give up. I occasionally try something new, but I still can’t wear lipstick or tuck my shirt in without feeling fat. Yes, I said it. Even after losing a significant amount of weight, I sometimes feel like I’m back where I started, like I’m back to being that shy and awkward kid. Whenever someone asks, I say “I’m working on it,” which is true; I am always working on it, but I don’t seem to get any far. I don’t feel special, and I seriously don’t get why my friends are still my friends. I honestly do understand why no-one ever asked me out, or why some people got really close and then bailed. I am weird, awkward, very loud, and constantly emotional. Besides, I am not the most attractive human being on earth. I motivate others a great deal but only offer myself a minimal amount. Self-confidence is really shaky; I still believe it’s very achievable but it needs a lot of work. I’m getting there, I am better than before, I think…
With scrutiny comes the next monster: self-doubt. That’s the worst of them all. No decision is made without you doubting it. Before or after; you try to be edgy and live in the moment. For me that’s not really an option. With self-doubt comes its best friend: anxiety. These two present themselves in your stutter in presentations, the constant shaking of your hands, and the amnesia you seem to get in every single exam. You could be on top of your game, you know everything about that exam or presentation but then self-doubt pays a visit. There are solutions out there, like imagining the crowd naked or looking at someone you trust. They sort of work, I guess? Then there is my absolutely favorite time of the day: when you’re in bed at night and every single stupid thing you’ve done in the span of your day or your life comes back to haunt you. At this point, sleep is an illusion; ladies and gentlemen, welcome to insomnia.
At this point, you can feel bad for yourself and fall deeper into the dark pit that is your depression and insecurities; one that will take years, blood, sweat, and tears to get out of. Or, there is an alternative approach: not caring. If you don’t give a damn, nothing can hurt you, right? Wrong! You’re not a robot; not caring could work for a bit; but you’ll always hurt yourself more and then you’ll break; you’ll find yourself at rock bottom, clawing your way back up. To be completely blunt, the only way to face your insecurities is to just face them. Go to a therapist, talk to a friend; don’t let yourself fall down that pit. You are not alone, there are others out there like you and I personally am always willing to help even if it’s just by listening to someone complain about their day. The best way to overcome something is to get it off your chest. I guess that’s what I’m doing with this article, in a way. I can’t always be positive and motivational; life in reality has a dark side too. I can’t be completely honest without showing it.