“My life is great, but I’m so bored with this life. If only I could move on to another.”
I began keeping a journal in earnest at the age of 13. And I wrote the phrase above at that age. It really stands out to me as a feeling that I still feel at times. It stands out to me as the spark of my vulnerability. This feeling–this discontent–seems to be a place where depression sunk its claws into me at a young age. I remember always being a daydreamer. I rarely created stories for others; I always imagined myself in other places or situations. I was always wondering where I would eventually fit in and feel content. I was happy. I was talkative. I was engaged. I wasn’t popular but I was mostly known. I wasn’t isolated specifically, but I was never satisfied. I wanted more. I wanted to feel full. And I didn’t. I felt lonely or I distracted myself from my loneliness.
As I got older I spent less time distracted from my angst. I had terrible luck with boys. Maybe it was the pastor’s daughter thing. That’s the easiest explanation to give and the hardest to accept. Because, to me, it means I wasn’t enough. I didn’t fit. A minor detail derailed me from getting to just be me. I was always something else–a daughter–first. And I was bored. I was tired. I was over it.
So why didn’t I leave? Why didn’t I go far off to college? I was scared. And I felt like I shouldn’t. And that I wasn’t allowed to. I would be alone. I would be more isolated. What if I never found anything better? I was young. I was naive. I was already crumbling under the strain of my illness. I was already beyond saving it seems.
When I met someone when I was in college who neither knew or cared whose daughter I was, it was enlightening. For the first time in 5 years I didn’t doubt the motivations of a friend. I trusted my closest girlfriends, but even they only knew me in the context where I had grown up. And as I longed to distance myself from that context, I pulled away even from them. I had plenty of “friends” who I spent time with but performed for.
And I had this one friend who didn’t know or care about my context. He seemed to like me and what I chose to share about myself rather than what ran down the gossip pipeline. I could be weird. I could be sad. I could be dramatic. I could be dumb. It was all okay.
But with my college and sorority friends things were different. I began performing all the time. I could no longer distract myself from my feelings of isolation. I was always pretending to be more palatable than I was. As I lost full control though, I began to see rejection everywhere. I became paranoid. My college friends were disgusted by me. My roommate hated me. My parents didn’t understand me. My sorority wanted to humiliate me. My one friend didn’t really care. No one cared. Not enough. And I couldn’t escape.
There was nowhere to go. I would always be a daughter first and a person second. I would never find love because I wasn’t lovable. I would never be accepted because people were cruel. I would always be bored to madness with the life I had been born into. I would never feel full and I would always be left wanting more.
In truth, there was no escape at that point. But there was rescue. For me, there was rescue.
I still have a wandering heart. I’m still a daydreamer. I’m a romantic. I’m a sap. I still get bored. And it is surprising to see those things in myself 22 years ago. It is strange to see how young I was when my vulnerability—although not my depression—showed up on paper. Depression is like a vine. It begins in one spot and grows and entangles itself, latching onto any vulnerability that it can use to strengthen itself.
I haven’t changed dramatically from my 13 year old or 19 year old selves, I have just adjusted my life to accommodate my personality and how it makes me vulnerable to my illness. I try to call depression out for what it is. I’m not unloveable. Sometimes depression just makes it hard for me to see or feel love. I’m not unacceptable, I’m just stubbornly myself. I’m not only something in relation to some other person, I am singular. I’m just smarter and better equipped. I know the difference between me and my depression, or at least I try my best to tell the difference. It’s a constant game to parse through my thoughts and feelings and label them as real or imagined. But the work is worth it. I get to walk the fine line of being myself—a person who lives with and is influenced by depression—and being the depressed woman. Depression is always there, it’s just a constant battle for control.
Don’t keep your struggles secret like I did. Don’t keep your feelings of isolation hidden. Depression will use those feelings but they are easier to twist and distort if they are secret. If you don’t tell anyone then depression will manipulate you into something else. Much love and strength to you as you parse though your own feelings to discover truth.