THE “…” DAYS
Originally Published 12/22/2016
I don’t really know how to go about this post, but I felt like I needed to write it. So, if it’s overly rambly or incoherent, I apologize. However, I communicate much more effectively via the written word than I do when I have to use my vocal cords and don’t have the time or opportunity to edit my thoughts. I know I’m not unique in that way. If you’ve ever spent time with me, you’ve probably encountered those moments where it looks like my mind goes blank and I say something like, “words are hard.” Because they are.
I like to think I’m a pretty smart person, but MY GOD it’s hard to communicate vocally sometimes.
So, I wanted to write this today because A) I needed to get this out, and B) I hope it might help someone in some small way.
This is difficult to write, largely because in doing so, I’m admitting that there’s something wrong with me, and I’m admitting it to people that I work very hard to hide these things from.
And I would like to say, before you read any further, that everything I’m about to write is reflective of a daily conversation I have with my brain. If you feel like you have a similar conversation with your brain, please talk to someone. Tell someone how you’re feeling.
Ok. Here goes.
I hate myself. I am pathetic. I am stupid. I have no talent. I hate myself. I’m useless. I’m unattractive. I’m annoying and a burden to everyone I meet. I hate myself. I destroy everything I touch. I’m not good at anything. I’m a terrible mother. I hate myself. I’m a terrible wife. I’m ugly. No one wants me. No one needs me.
Everyone would be better off if I wasn’t around.
I hate myself.
You wouldn’t think it to look at me. From the outside, I seem like a happy person. I joke, I laugh, I smile, I make snarky comments. I talk to people, I socialize.
I put on a very good game face.
I can’t really pinpoint when or where these feelings started. In some ways, I think they’ve pervaded my inner monologue my whole life. In other ways, I don’t know that I was really aware of them until I entered young adulthood. Looking back, while I certainly can’t blame these feelings for my actions, I can see how they motivated me from a very young age.
The desire to be…something…to someone. Anything. To have any relevance to their life. That, in particular, has been a motivating factor for a lot of my (admittedly bad) decisions. I have never had anything even close to resembling a strong sense of self-worth. Or a weak sense, for that matter. So, I tend to become what people need me to be so that they will continue to desire my company. When I cease to be important to them in that way, I panic – because it’s the only thing I was good for to them, and now I’m going to lose that person in my life.
Unfortunately, the actions of others have fed that narrative in my mind. But I cannot blame others for that. No one can be blamed for what my brain is telling itself.
For a very, very long time, I became used to having no one in my life outside of my husband and children. I had no identity other than being a wife and a mother. While that, in itself, had an effect on my psyche, it gave me the opportunity to find a sort of peace with being alone. I felt lonely, but it was sort of a comfortable loneliness. Outside of my little family, no one thought about me, no one cared about me, no one would even notice if I disappeared. While that idea saddened me to think about, as long as I didn’t think about it, I could convince myself that I was fine.
And I should point out that I’m fully aware of how much I have to be thankful for. I have two amazing little boys. I have a husband who loves me, unconditionally. I’m employed, we have food, we have a house and dogs. There is no reason for me to feel as shitty as I do.
So, I found this sort-of contentment with the loneliness I was feeling. It was comfortable, it was mine. Certainly, it didn’t keep me from crying myself to sleep regularly, but during my waking hours I could maintain a façade that everything was fine. I could look happy to the people around me.
The problem comes in when I get a taste of what it’s like on the other side. Three years ago, I reconnected with an old friend. We spent a lot of time together. I felt important and needed, and it brought my despair into the harsh light of day. I couldn’t ignore it, I couldn’t handle it, and I made decisions that hurt a lot of people in an attempt to gain some control over the crushing feelings of loneliness and inadequacy.
When I finally came back from that – with some unwanted, forced encouragement from my newfound friend – I was able to get back to the place where I could feign happiness and contentment. I was able to convince myself that I was wrong, that I had everything to be thankful for, and that I needed to focus on those things.
I was able to do that for another three years. But the feelings never left. That inner monologue continues. Every second. Every day.
Recently, I struck up friendships with a couple of people, and the cycle started all over again. I have people in my life again who see me as a person, as someone who has something to offer the world beyond my persona as a wife and mother. It has been the most refreshing feeling, but it has also been a catalyst for the despair to return. I can’t ignore or push aside my feelings. It’s like I was dying of thirst and was given a glass of water, and now all I can think about is how much my throat hurts, and how much I want just a little bit more to drink.
The problem is that the feelings never went away. Over the years, they’ve gotten stronger, more insistent, more full of desperation. I had, fleetingly, thought about taking my own life a few times over the years – but it was a thought that was easily dismissable. It would be selfish, I couldn’t possibly do it. My children. My husband. I couldn’t do that to them.
But those thoughts have become frequent, of late. I can dismiss them with the same rationale, but the frequency is hard to ignore. I still couldn’t do it. I won’t do it. I can say that with almost absolute certainty. But I’ve gotten to a point where I find myself thinking, “it wouldn’t be so bad if I got hit by a bus, or had an accident, or ended up with terminal cancer, or was kidnapped and tortured to death by a serial killer.” I can blame all the recent podcast binging for the last one.
I’m in a place right now where I don’t really want to die, but I’m not married to the idea of living.
Realizing that, and saying it out loud to those couple of people in my life who have become so very important to me (in ways that are different than the importance I place on my children and husband, so please don’t think I’m comparing), was a turning point. They urged me to find someone – professional – to talk to about these things. I resisted at first, because I’d tried that before, and she put a lot of focus on figuring out why I can’t just be happy with what I have, which only made those feelings worse.
However, I really don’t want to die. I want to see my kids grow up. I want to add another baby to our family. There are things I still want out of life, and I’m at a crossroads right now. I can either succumb to these feelings, or I can fight them. So I’m going to work on “fixing” me. Because right now, I want to fight those feelings.
And so should you.
Depression affects more than 14.8 million American adults. Women experience depression at a rate of 2:1 compared to men – but this does not make depression among men any less of an importance or reality. Depression is the cause of 2/3 of suicides in the U.S. Up to 80% of those treated for depression show an improvement in their symptoms generally within four to six weeks of beginning medication, psychotherapy, attending support groups or a combination of these treatments. Despite its high treatment success rate, nearly two out of three people suffering with depression do not actively seek nor receive proper treatment.
Please, if you or someone you know are suffering from depression, seek treatment or encourage them to do so.
National Suicide Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255