Have you tried not feeling so sorry for yourself?
I’ve always wondered what life would be like without the cloud of depression and hopelessness hanging over my head.
Would I laugh more? Would the world seem more vibrant and beautiful? I don’t really think it’s NOT those things now, but would it get better? Would I actually wear colors other than black? What would change? Would I still be able to write?
There’s this thing people do when you tell them you’re depressed. They say, “I’m sorry,” and “tomorrow is a new day,” but nothing can combat the voice in my head telling me “you’re not good at anything,” and “stop being so fucking dramatic,” and “you’re worthless, so there’s no use in feeling sorry for yourself.”
Since I was young, I’ve had a lived-in determination to get me through the worst bouts of depression.
On my best days, it gets me out of bed, energizes me despite chronic fatigue and insomnia, and encourages me to achieve in work or relationships. I’ve seen small bouts of success in my career and got married (since like, that’s an indicator of success, apparently?).
On my worst days, my once tenacious drive turns into sludge and suddenly my body becomes a brick. Getting out of bed is like forcing a tired dog on a walk — pulling against the leash with every ounce of energy left so it doesn’t have to go any further.
Most days, I am fun to be around, funny, curious, open and friendly. I’d say it appears that most people like me, though I’ve struggled to maintain friendships. I like making people laugh. I have a cool husband. I live in an adorable house with a pug that provides more entertainment than cat videos on YouTube. I’m a professional writer (my childhood #dreamjob). Basically, life is great.
And yet, I’m perpetually dissatisfied and feel like I am a huge fucking failure. I used to think this “can’t get no satisfaction” curse was how I would be successful in life, but now it’s just a parasite I can’t get rid of.
Will I ever find that satisfaction? Will I ever understand what happiness feels like? Does everyone feel like this?
Lately, it seems like these feelings are not just my own. Even though we have more ways to communicate than ever, we also feel more isolated than ever. I sit here endlessly scrolling through my phone at Facebook, Instagram, twitter, and a dozen other apps, waiting for something — anything — to distract me from the madness of my brain for a few seconds. Once something distracts me, I’m quick to bounce off the page and look for something new. Again, with the “nothing is ever good enough.” I feel lost in this world of social media, where everything is a marketing tactic and nothing matters.
I start to wonder if everyone feels like this at some point, or of this is a new symptom of depression. Maybe we need to talk about this more. Life is terrifying and we all suffer from the human condition, just some more than others. The realization that modern life has no meaning until you give it one is slightly paralyzing.
A therapist once asked me to recall a time when I felt happy. I responded with a short story of a beach vacation and being with my future husband. “See, a lot of people aren’t even able to take a vacation, and you’re off gallivanting through Thailand. Have you tried not feeling so sorry for yourself?”
Yeah, it didn’t work.
Then, I found a new therapist.