Posted 9/4/2011 7:28 PM (GMT -6)
I think about dying. More than I’d like to admit, and definitely more than anyone close to me would like to know about. I feel like I work harder to be alive than a lot of other people. The thought “I’m just not good at life” presents itself often. I’ve seen therapists, taken medication, upped my workouts, changed my diet, prayed, meditated, read books, journaled…you name it. Depression runs deep for me.
I know all of this sounds profoundly pathetic to many people. Here’s the thing: I am not an ungrateful, self-indulged, spoiled brat. But, for many people who haven’t experienced the emotions and thoughts that full-on, youth-onset depression yields, that’s what it sounds like. “Suck it up.” “Life is hard.” “We’ve all got problems.” These are some opinions that abound amongst “normal” folks. Hear me here: I don’t disagree. Therein lies the catch.
Each of us has been admonished to “trust your gut.” When faced with a decision of any kind, big or small, the universal truth that we innately know the right answer, deep within, should make us all feel a lot more comfortable navigating our way through this world. However, for a person that has known, for as long as they can remember, that their thoughts are different than others; that their way of viewing the world is somehow different than others’; that their feelings are different than others’; that gut feeling can be deceiving.
I doubt myself. During the periods that I feel good, feel that maybe, just maybe, I have experienced my last days of extreme darkness, I know deep down that I’m deceiving myself. The truth is that the dark clouds will come again. That sounds, to some, like a self-fulfilling prophecy. I hear you. But the advice to “change your thoughts, change your life,” isn’t easy for anyone. It is much more difficult for someone whose body is conditioned to default to negativity. I feel like a failure, much of the time. Even in the good times, the times of prosperity and positivity, there is that innate feeling that I’m just kidding myself.
I volunteer with needy people. They are hungry. They have few material possessions. Many don’t know where they’ll lay their head from night to night. The mature outlook would be for me to count my blessings and know that there are a hell of lot of heavy problems out there that make my self-loathing and inward-projected pity pale in comparison. But the fact is that I still feel the way I do, and that only reinforces my feelings of failure.
Spiritual practices of all kinds teach us to be kind to ourselves. Forgive yourself. Don’t be so hard on yourself. But those seemingly freeing, comforting ways of being in the world are met with feelings of hardship and confusion for the depressed. The fact that something as freeing and beautiful as forgiveness of myself won’t “take” with me makes me feel like an even bigger failure.
The fact that the suggestion to “suck it up” isn’t an adequate solution; knowing that “life is hard” and “we’ve all got problems” aren’t satisfactory explanations for my constant battle with myself to make it all make sense, makes me feel like an even bigger failure. “I’m just not good at life” is at times a whisper, and at other times a yell. So, I think about dying. More than I’d like to admit, and definitely more than anyone close to me would like to know about.
In posting this, I'm not looking for an intervention. I'm doing o.k. But I believe we need to express ourselves and tell our own stories so that those that may not have the words can, hopefully, find their own voice and know that they are not alone. So, I'm asking you: what does it feel like to be you?