It is never easy to share something about yourself that you’ve kept somewhat of a secret for so so long. It almost feels like standing naked on a stage, yet you’re in front of your friends so you know they’re not really going to judge you, and there are some who will slightly avert their eyes so as not to cause anyone embarrassment. But I think that I have hinted, I have held close, and I have shared enough, that now it’s time to come completely clean. I have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety for a very long time. I have been on medication for depression and anxiety for a very long time. But I also suffered silently for even longer. I refused to believe that the way that I felt was anything other than a flaw in my own being. I failed to see that perhaps my thoughts and my beliefs about myself were nothing more than a fractured record that I was playing over and over inside of my head… and that could in fact be replaced. I failed to see myself through others eyes as someone who is bright and kind and carefree. And instead saw myself thru the lens, the very dark lenses, of someone who feels they are nothing, will never be anything, and will always let people down.
I think I was in middle school when I started to feel this way. I can’t really put my finger on it but I know that I was more self-conscious than just about everyone else that I knew. That’s saying a lot when you’re talking about middle school. I think I even wrote a letter to my friend saying I felt like hurting myself and I may have had a quick interaction with a school counselor who quickly passed it off as nothing worth paying attention to. It is not like I ever shared my feelings with anyone, I never trusted anyone, maybe it’s not even trust. I think I believed that’s just how I was supposed to feel. I didn’t realize I was supposed to feel any differently. I was what I believed about myself. Period. When I switched schools in the eighth grade, I was not greeted with much kindness by my peers. I can remember being called names when I got on the bus and slinking into the closest seat I could find hoping that they would not continue. Not that I blame these adolescents for anything about how I felt about myself because all it really did was to confirm my already negative thoughts and feelings. I did trust one teacher and my friend went with me to talk to this teacher about what was happening and thank God for her. Because at least she put an end to it. An end to the name-calling, not an end to the way I felt.
I was never one to experiment with drugs or alcohol, I had sufficient enough Catholic guilt that I was afraid that I would suddenly burst into flames if I were to do anything against what I had been raised to believe was proper and appropriate. So I am grateful that I did not fall into habits that I may have had a hard time recovering from. Somehow I managed to never self harm physically. Although I did a phenomenal job of self harming mentally. I could belittle myself better and faster than anyone on earth could even try. In high school I was fortunate enough to have three very close girlfriends who seemed to always be there whenever we needed each other. To this day I am convinced that these friendships are the reason that I became the kind of person that I am. Sadly enough it was the suicide of one of our fathers that drew us all together in friendship. Not that we ever discussed it or talked about what it really meant, but it was always there and we always knew about it. And seeing the destruction that the loss of her father had on our friend, it let me see a glimmer of light that said things aren’t always as they seem and sometimes people feel differently about you than you believe. I went thru a few “ships”, can’t even call them relationships because they were so fleeting and superficial.
College was a lot of sleeping. That’s how I cope with my depression, I sleep. Almost like a hibernation, I disappear into the recesses and safety of my covers only to come out when gently coaxed by the right person. It was these right people who helped me see happiness and self love through another lens, and had me in turn question my own thoughts and beliefs. A few good friends even held an “intervention” in turn forcing me to go talk to a counselor. But I wasn’t ready to understand these things. The things I wholeheartedly believed about myself. That I was useless. That I was unlovable. That I was pathetic. That I was a burden and an attention seeking loser.
I pause here to mention the phenomenal ability to use the skill of distraction. This is to say I had many days where I didn’t think about myself. I didn’t worry about me. I just distracted myself with life. Depression does that. It’s like a curtain that pulls away to expose this monstrosity of a stage, but then sometimes closes and just allows you to hear the warm up of the orchestra and the noise of those around you. There’s even a little excitement because you don’t know what’s behind the scenes… maybe it will be different than the last time. But in the end, no matter the interpretation, the story is always the same.
I finally got real help after I started graduate school. Masters of Arts in Education- Counseling. I walked right into exactly what I needed for myself and found my way towards healing and in turn the ability to help others. I still have depression. I take daily medications to help me manage what therapy cannot repair. And my family and friends? They know when something is off. And those that I have let in, they know to ask and what questions to use.
So I share my story in hopes that someone out there will not feel alone. You are not insane. You are not the horrible burden that the shadow of depression tells you that you are. People do care. They do love you. And they will be your strength when you feel you have none.
Why share this? Why spill my secret? Because who freaking cares? If I had leukemia there would be go fund me’s set up and people constantly asking for updates. If our house was robbed, friends, neighbors and even strangers would rally around us. But have an issue with your thoughts? Nope, not yet in our society. Even with all the education and steps we have made… it’s still stigmatized. It’s still seen as a “weakness” by some. Let me tell you, just waking up every day and putting one foot in front of the other requires more strength than anyone can ever imagine on some days. It’s anything but a weakness. It’s not “mind over matter”. It’s real. It affects everything and everyone who cares about that person. And unlike a doctor recently advised, it cannot be fixed by a soda a day … but that’s another story.
So I share my story in hopes that someone out there will not feel alone. You are not insane. You are not the horrible burden that the shadow of depression tells you that you are. People do care. They do love you. And they will be your strength when you feel you have none. For that is keeping sanity.
3 thoughts on “My darkest secret”
You know, anxiety and depression feels unique, at least it did to me, until you find other people who feel exactly the same way you do. Then you come to realize that anxiety is a specter that haunts so many others, making them feel like self-worth, and even feeling a worth of self to begin with, is nothing but a facade, a narcissistic trait. Thank you for posting this Kara. Hoping to read more from you.
Wow! I had no idea. I apologize for not being a close enough friend to know your secret. Thanks for sharing your honest beautiful soul with all of us. I would love to be a better friend to you! I am here for you. You have always inspired me and made me think that I need to be more like you!! Hugs ❤️
I know that must have taken some courage to write. Thank you for being honest and sharing your experience. I don’t think anyone ever knows what anyone is going through completely and we all need to just have more empathy for one another. Great post!