So often I feel like I’m in hiding. I hide from my family, my friends and myself.
For me, one of the hardest parts of living with depression is feeling disconnected from the person I think I am. I know there’s person inside me who feels joy, who feels like she’s good and interesting, but I don’t know how to get to her.
I spend most of my days trying to look like I’m healthy, when inside I’m constantly thinking ,”Is this right? Am I coming across as a normal person?” It’s like I’m doing my best imitation of a human being, but inside I feel like an alien. I worry that I’ll start crying or that I’ll suddenly space out.
I don’t go out of my way to have conversations about my mood with people – which is partially why I decided to start the blog. Aside from my boyfriend and my best friends, I don’t often share what I’m feeling. Actually- scratch that. I can share what I’m feeling – but I don’t share what I’m thinking or doing. I use blanket statements like “I’ve just been down” but I don’t go into particulars about the things I think about, the times I cry or act out. It’s a barrier I put up out of shame. I don’t want to scare people, or cause worry – but I also want to keep up the illusion that I’m fine.
I have been craving real conversations about spirituality, health and relationships – and didn’t know where to get that. I don’t know if I’m adding anything to the conversation, but I wanted to blog so that people could say, “Yup, me too. been there, feel that – this is what helps me.”
A few weeks ago I was with some of my close girlfriends for a day of wedding planning activities (not mine). My friend Davida* was having a particularly tough day, and I could see as we were out and about that she was shutting down. After we went shopping for bridesmaids dresses and had lunch, we went back to the bride’s house and I asked Davida about what happened. She began to tell me about her anxieties, her insecurities and how some things were triggering for her (fluorescent lighting, dressing rooms, you get it).
I immediately went into friend mode, and tried my best to comfort her and offer reassurance that she was more than her anxiety and body. Suddenly I realized maybe I should just keep my mouth shut and see her in the moment. So often we think we’re helping people by offering advice and reassurance, when we’re really dismissing their honesty and vulnerability.
I couldn’t help Davida. Nothing I said could help her more than saying, “I see you. I hear you.”
It was a rare moment when we were finally out of hiding and could speak about the things we struggle with. These moments are few and far between but acknowledging them, helps make it seem like we’re not divided – we’re not two different people. We are one person, who feels many things.
Last weekend I went to visit my friend Meredith* in Toronto. Our pups in tow, we ate lunch and caught up – talking about things that I had been craving to talk about: writing, spirituality, mood. We spoke so openly and honestly with one another that I felt completely seen and understood. We weren’t trying to scare each other, or one-up each other with our feelings. I left Meredith’s house feeling lighter, despite talking about the heaviness we sometimes felt inside. We didn’t offer solutions for each other’s problems, we just listened and spoke from the heart.
I know there are people who really see me, and that helps me – even though today I feel like I’m back in hiding – trying to just make it through the day until I can go home and feel safe.
I think next week I’ll start sharing some books and talks that have been helping me. There’s a lot more to discuss.
Keep your head up, keep your heart strong!
*Names have been changed to maintain privacy.