“You are worthless”. “No one cares about what you have to say.” “If you weren’t here no-one would care”. “You are useless”. “Everyone would be better off without you.” “You are ugly and fat!” “No one loves you!”
These are just some of the words that I would tell myself, over and over again. In the middle of feeling buried with emotions and trying to act “normal”, I would berate myself over and over again.
Depression is different for each and every person that experiences it. To think we know what another person going through can be difficult. For me it was like an invader has taken over your mind and every step I took, every action and everything I would say, that voice, that invader had an insult waiting for me. Waiting to pounce and knock me over.
Sometimes as soon as I opened my eyes, it would hit me with so many insults that I just wanted to curl up and disappear. I refused to get out of bed, I refused to even go to the bathroom because it was the only place, I could find comfort. I felt like I had no-one to turn to and I kept wrestling with the idea of picking up the phone and just hearing that one voice that would help. “But they didn’t want to know, they had their own problems”, the invader would say.
The invader, the negative voice in my head that would beats me down every moment of the day was like a demon feeding off the fact that I felt paralysed and couldn’t turn to someone.
You want to reach out and scream on top of your lungs that you need help. You need to be held, you are starving for something, anything, inside screaming “Just please, help me”. But your voice is muted.
Many times, my partner would ask “tell me what’s wrong?” The words wouldn’t come out, it was like a lump in my throat that just wouldn’t go up or down. I would remain silent or say “nothing”. Each day I would continue to feel lost and alone. With myself I became good at hiding it in public, continue to smile, say hello, and pretend that I am living.
It would start, day or night, sometimes just creeping up in the middle of the day. Today I wasn’t a good enough mother, I wasn’t a good wife, a good sister, a good daughter or a good friend. I started drowning in the shower of insults and guilt. These are the values I had placed on myself over the years.
My self-worth was attached to all these roles that in a sense I played. At times I felt like this isn’t my life to lead, I felt fake. I was losing myself, my individuality and my personality was getting lost in my own conditioned beliefs. I had to be perfect and if I wasn’t perfect at it then what was the point?
As a trained counsellor I now know the way to help others who are experiencing similar thoughts and conditions. My experience doesn’t hinder me in helping clients, because I don’t use my experience as a measure. I use my experience to provide unconditional acceptance that what my clients are going through is real as the oxygen we breathe. Their experience their pain is theirs, which no one can judge or discount.
One of the things we were taught in counselling was the goal is to be a fully functioning person, someone who has autonomy over some if not all aspects of their being. It can be difficult to achieve that but for me, if I wake up and do something for myself, such as brush my teeth, get dressed, and spend some time doing something that feeds my soul, my individual personality, then that’s a win for me.
I feel like society has told us that we have to be happy and fulfilled all the time, these unrealistic conditions make us question our own sanity at times and we want to be cured if we are not living the dream or not happy. Now once again this is my experience where I feel that depression is not something you just get over or fix.
The negative thoughts can be challenged though. The time limit is different, each and everyone’s symptoms and thoughts are different. But learning to take back control over this invader and silence its voice is what helped me.
Majority of the time I am OK (notice how I am not saying great), I feel happy with the way things are within my life, I am loved and appreciated by some and maybe disregarded by others. I am okay with that. I’m doing something that I love. Helping others and taking care of myself are my top priorities now. Every day I challenge a conditioned belief that no longer works or is helpful to me.
There are days when I am not okay, when I wake up and straight away, I feel like I can’t take a deep breath but them days I am now kinder to myself. I accept that I am feeling low and there is a relief in that acceptance. The relief that it’s okay not to be okay all the time. It is okay to feel like you will burst into tears if someone asks you how you are, and the relief that I may not be perfect to the tamed demon in my mind, whether imperfect or perfect this is me.
Now ask yourself, how kind are you to yourself?