I am someone who believes in other people. I believe that everyone has a story and is worth something. They deserve love and support and encouragement. I believe in the underdog, and yet I am a hypocrite. I believe these things about everyone else, but I cannot believe them about myself. I know my loved ones get frustrated when they say they love me or believe in me and I cannot believe them. I wish I could let them see myself how I see myself for just one minute, but then I feel awful because I would never want anyone to see themselves the way I do. I do not want people to feel sorry for me or give me compliments, and I certainly don’t want attention. I want people to understand that the way I view myself is not by choice, or even completely “me.” The depression has hijacked my view of myself and made it into this twisted mess.
You see, for those who wonder what depression feels like, I guess mine is best described as a heavy, dark fog. It settled over me 7 ½ years ago and has never truly left. At times it is so suffocating that I cannot even see my true self. There are good days, however, when the fog is less oppressive and I can be a part of society. The thick fog is always there, threatening to roll over me and render me useless. A couple of years ago on a trip, we drove through the heart of the Smoky Mountains. I remember the winding road and thick haze that allowed the smallest patches of sunlight through, leaving everything with an eerie alien feel. That is my depression.
A friend of mine recently asked me to tell her 3 good and bad things about myself. The bad were so easy; only 3?! I find myself to be disgusting looking, not only my weight, but my features and skin and the way my hair frizzes. I often find myself quoting Mia Thermopolis from Princess Diaries and saying “As always, this is as good as it’s going to get” when I look in the mirror. I’m not smart; I have to work for A’s and I don’t do that because between the ADD and depression, I get overwhelmed and frustrated. It seems easier to get mediocre grades like Bs and Cs a lot of times. Probably the worst thing about me is my annoying personality. My form of social awkward is not cute, and I don’t make friends or trust people easily, so when I do make friends I tend to be annoying and clingy. When it came to the good things, I could think of the one thing I always fall back on; I am extremely loyal. When it comes to my family and friends, I would do anything for them. That is about the extent of good things I see in myself.
Because I view myself so negatively, I cannot believe that the people I call my friends like me. I have somehow convinced myself that because they are funny, smart, good people who are going places in life they could never like me or want to be around me. Pre-depression, I thought of myself as a leader and because of that I have always been drawn to people who I would say are very magnetic with huge personalities, vast talents, and tons of friends. I call them A listers, and I am D list on a good day (I feel ya Kathy Griffin.)
While logic says that these people wouldn’t invite me places or even talk to me if they truly hated me, I cannot begin to understand why they would choose to be around me. I’m not clever or attractive, my jokes fall through a lot, and I fall back on sarcasm because I’m a pretty big bitch. Because I believe I annoy them so much, I tend to think that they feel bad for me for being so clueless and dumb and hang out with me because they’re such great people. Since I believe this, I am annoyingly self-conscious around them, and I know it. A newer friend who I absolutely adore has told me numerous times to not apologize so much. He’s pointed out (in a nice way) that I am a total pill when it comes to drinking, and I know that. I hate that I cannot even have fun with the people who say they like me without ruining things and being depressing.
I am aware of how selfish this all makes me sound, and I will be the first to admit that I am so selfish. Depression is selfish in all the wrong ways. I get so hung up on analyzing my every move and thinking people are always annoyed or disgusted with me that I bring the people I love down. Depression is selfish in that it makes you think you are worthless and yet gets you so hung up on yourself that you mess up friendships and don’t contribute the right things to relationships. I am a total wet blanket and I try so hard not to be, but I. Cannot. Stop. Do I want to be so exhausting? Hell no. I want to be the awesome friend who isn’t obnoxious or clingy, who can tell the people she loves how she feels without feeling like she is weird. I want to go out and have fun with friends and have them come to me when they need something.
I want the people who I call friends at this point of my life to not be forced away by my mental illness like so many before them. The real Maddie is positive, happy go lucky, and loves to laugh and go out. She wants people to see her for her and for her friends to know that they are amazing and going places. The real Maddie has been appearing more and more lately, shoving her way through the fog to let more sunlight in. The depression is always there, but I have to learn to navigate the world with my depression, instead of just hiding and wallowing in it like I have for so many wasted years.
I am going to learn to let myself be happy, because I hate that when something wonderful happens my anxiety kicks in and I think of everything that can and will go wrong. I am reminded by the depression that I don’t deserve good things and that something will go wrong. This is incredibly frustrating, especially for my mom, who gets the brunt of these worries. I do not want to be such a downer anymore, and I am going to learn to fight the fog.
This is the thing about depression: it is an illness. I do not enjoy this, nor did I ask to feel like this. I wake up some mornings and do not want to get out of bed and look in the mirror at my worthless face. Why should I subject people to myself when nothing of value comes of me? Depression is painful; the things I say to myself are things I would not say to ANYONE else. The feeling of my own brain rebelling against itself is weird because the internal war makes me feel crazy, but I’m not.
Depression is crazy, and I am going to fight it like I haven’t for the past 7 ½ years of my life. I am going to force myself to believe that I can do good things and that people love me and I must be worth it. I want people who suffer from mental illness to know that they are worth it and I am rooting for them. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that it is going to get better; after all, if Mia Thermopolis can become a beautiful princess, we can believe in a better tomorrow.