WTF Is This?
This diary started with the suggestion from my therapist to start ‘journaling’. I must confess that the idea of ‘journaling’ made me want to vomit in my mouth. Journaling was for those people. You know, people who think that everything they say is interesting (it isn’t). I knew this because I had read some of these blogs and they usually left me feeling icky and/or inadequate. I couldn’t even stand myself or my own thoughts, why would I enjoy or find it helpful to WRITE THEM DOWN?
Then I took an honest look at what I was reading those days. Even if some blogs didn’t work for me, all I was reading were blogs, magazine articles and self-help books with very short chapters and very large fonts. I couldn’t tell you the name of most of these writers, and some were awful. Some of us cannot afford to go on a 4-week yoga retreat to ‘reset’, although if someone offered to pay for this, I am not saying I would turn it down, but some of these stories did provide comfort. They made me feel less lonely and reassured me that people had survived these horrible thoughts and most importantly, they were still around to tell their stories.
I was feeling desperate and knew I needed help. My thoughts were relentless and mean, and I was on the losing side of the battle against them. I had never been a good student, but I was ready to become one.
I decided I was going to try everything my therapist suggested, including continuing with therapy. But, seeing a therapist and telling them what I was truly thinking and not just saying what I thought would make them like me, were two different things.
I mean, she had the PHD, and I have always been a fan of hiring professionals.
So, there I was again, on ‘the Zoom’ with my therapist, trying to find a way to articulate, honestly, how loud the voices had become. The guilt about even feeling sad was mostly unbearable. How do I describe this to someone who doesn’t even really know me? What if they think I am selfish? There are so many others with worse situations than mine. I know this.
But constant suicidal thoughts have a way of forcing you to either move towards wellness, or, well, the other.
So, I decided to start with this story.
I had been driving home from grocery shopping (don’t be jealous). I was zoning in and out of a podcast which had been recommended for people like me; sad people trying not to be sad.
As the podcast ended, I was reaching for my phone (illegal, I know) when a song started playing that immediately caught me off guard. I am not a big music person. In fact, my friends and family refer to me as someone with terrible taste in music but when I heard this song, and these lyrics, I knew someone out there knew me:
“And to be lovеd, we need to be known.
We’ll finally find our way back homе.
And through the joy and pain, that our lives bring,
We can do hard things.”
I had to pull over because I could not stop crying. I wasn’t sad or angry or happy. It was just such a simple, beautiful moment that managed to articulate how I had been feeling, and yet offer hope at the same time. Because m’fo, if there is one thing that I can give myself credit for, it is that I can do hard things.
Quick sidebar – shockingly, the podcast is actually called ‘We Can Do Hard Things’ – who knew?
I can’t remember hearing anyone before equating any value or recognition of the mental strength it takes for some of us to just grind forward while we ‘do hard things’. And, what makes it worse, are those hard things that seem so easy for others.
“Boots to the ground! Chin up! One foot in front of the other!”
The thing is, we know these things are not hard things for everyone but when you are depressed, the bar is a very different height. Sometimes washing your hair feels like climbing Mount Everest, and I would never climb Mount Everest. It sounds like a terrible idea.
We hear a lot about ‘resilience’, especially in the context of modeling for our children, but the ‘act’ itself of doing hard things doesn’t seem to merit any value. I have mostly just felt deep shame that I find life so hard. It is usually on my list of self-improvements: STOP FINDING LIFE HARD. You have it EASY. You are PRIVILEGED.
I am a 48-year-old, white woman who runs her own small design business. I am a friend, daughter, sister, wife, and mother. I never know what order to put those in without fear of being judged. What is your identity? What order do you present it to the world? Answers welcome!
I live with severe, persistent clinical depression, chronic migraines, attention deficit disorder and some bits of bi-polar to make it extra fun to medicate. For the most part, I think I had been ‘getting through’ life. I worked hard, managed to pay for and get my kids to their various activities so they don’t live on screens, pay my employees so they don’t quit and of course, importantly, covert many of the nay-sayers to the joys and unexpected delights of wallpaper.
Back to the song and that line: “to be loved we need to be known”. It filled my eyes with tears and put my stomach into knots.
Maybe because I live with this voice all the time, the one that tells me if I stopped faking it and showed up as my, gag, authentic self that my biggest fear would come true. People would see that I am indeed not very interesting, or funny (THE WORST), too tall/ugly and of course, a little bit stupid. Thank you ADD.
But, if I just keep running, running like a coyote chasing a road runner, people will not have time to really notice me. They will be distracted by all the dust, and the dust will shield them from me.
So, my hope for sharing my story is that it will not only help me but maybe others along the way. I am motivated, an unfamiliar feeling with depression. I want to explore how I got there, again, feeling so sad, lonely, and terrified. I was so low that I had to numb myself both to beauty and pain because both felt completely intolerable.
For the first time since my initial ‘episode’ at 15, I found myself curious to better understand how I got to this place. Why did depression still anchor so many of my thoughts and actions? I need to piece it together. I need to get more comfortable in my own skin, to notice where it stretches and pulls. Where it feels good and where it feels bad, and hopefully start to build a trust with this ‘self’ inside of me. The real one. Not the one that is just running from place to place, that is scared to come out and play.
And then maybe, just maybe, I could hear that line ‘to be loved we need to be known’ and experience it through wellness and knowing, rather than sadness.
They say anything is possible.