By Kirsten Corley
The truth is when you asked me what’s wrong, I’m never going to respond with “I’m depressed.” The truth is those words taste like acid coming off my tongue. Instead, I’ll say, “I’m tired.” I’m always tired.
From the outside looking in, I’m not someone who should be depressed. I get frustrated with myself sometimes because I know this. I know there are people wishing for the things I do have and I should be grateful counting my blessings. I shouldn’t be sad.
I was raised in a good loving family. They gave me everything I could have wanted and needed. When I compare myself to my siblings, I’m overcome with the frustration of why I feel the things as heavy as I do. And why can’t I be normal?
I got a good education. I did extremely well in school and sports. I got a lot of awards. I have a great job I do well enough at. I love working. I have a huge social circle and a lot of friends. There isn’t a weekend I’m not invited somewhere. I’m actively involved in a lot of charities. My walls are filled with medals and awards and accomplishments. Pictures of me smiling and laughing. If you asked people to describe me, they’d say I’m funny, entertaining, their favorite person to go out with. Those are my good days.
I don’t say these things to be boastful. I say this because this is the reality of someone living with depression. The truth is I’ve mastered the art of playing two very different roles.
From the outside looking in one would think I have a perfect life. But the truth is the word perfect makes me cringe. The word perfect is a reminder of the things I lack.
Because I’m not overcome with sadness all the time. I’m not screaming for help in a cry. I’m not talking about it. Depression hides under my skin hidden just there with me, something only I know. Plagued with this negativity that overcomes me and turns me into someone I don’t even recognize someone I have to hide from everyone. It comes lurking in the late hours of the night, keeping me awake.
Feeding me lies.
“You don’t have friends. You are alone. No one cares. You aren’t good enough. Pretty enough. Smart enough. Accomplished enough. Normal enough. You will never beat this. You will never escape me. I’ll always be here.”
And I know these things aren’t true. But when you’re laying there at night because you canceled on your friends again and you’re going through your newsfeed and it seems like everyone is so much happier than you, in that moment those lies seem real.
And I know social media is simply the glamorized versions of people’s lives. I know it’s not real.
How many times have you been out and the party or bar that sucks yet everyone is snapping it like it’s the party of the year?
But depression tries to convince me lies. Depression tries to trick me into believing things I shouldn’t.
It’s the mornings I wake up and it actually takes effort to get out of bed. Because part of me just wants to lay there for hours if I could. But I know that will only make it worse.
It’s starting a day that I just want to already be over. And I know I should appreciate every day I have. Depression makes me feel selfish. Because while I lay there sad I know someone is taking their last breath and I should appreciate life more.
It’s having to talk myself into eating because I’m not hungry. I’m never that hungry. But I know I have to eat. It’s when one bad day turns into two then three and I have to think about when was the last time I had a meal?
But then there are also those moments where I just want to eat everything.
It’s going out and faking a smile and laughing. Because I’m 25 and I’m supposed to enjoy drinking and partying but looking around at everyone and feeling so alone.
It’s my close friend looking at me, “you can fool everyone here but you can’t fool me. You’re off today.” Then we leave. And at the same time of me wanting to shut him out and push him away, it’s the company I need that’s most vital. It’s laying there with him on the couch not saying anything but not needing to. Just need his arms around me and that’s enough to get me through the night.
And I know these deep and dark feelings will fade it’s just getting through what feels like a storm which is the challenge.
Then I have good days. The good days almost make the bad ones worth it. But I know those will fade too. So I cling to them as best I can because it’s that which gives me strength.
It’s the conversation I don’t want to have because I can’t describe what it is I’m feeling. I can’t understand why I’m feeling this way.
It’s reaching for anything I can to numb the pain even if it’s toxic habits. Because I know I shouldn’t drink that much. I know alcohol is a depressant and once being drunks fades I fall faster and harder. But in the moment numbing my pain is the only thing I’m thinking about. Even if the happiness isn’t real, in that moment while I’m laughing throwing back shots it feels like it is.
Depression is the unbalance of everything in my life. Eat well 3 days in a row then like shit the next. Sleep well one night then not get out of bed for hours. Go the gym for 6 hours then skip it for the next week. I can’t describe it really. Only that everything is off. From my life to the chemicals in my brain and I know it’s not my fault but it feels like it is.
For someone who is high achieving and cares so much about my reputation, it’s hard to not blame myself. It’s hard to not think this has nothing to do with chemicals or family history I look in the mirror and I think it’s my fault. Like it’s something I’m choosing.
I look at my family who is always worrying about me and I want to say sorry for troubling them and being a burden.
I try entirely too hard in every relationship. I think I have to. I think I have to give people a reason to stay. Because if they see this side of me they’re gonna wanna take off. Even though so many people have seen the worst sides of me and have chosen to stay, all I’m overcome with and think about are those who have left.
I love people a little too hard because it’s a process of learning to love myself. And I’ll admit I don’t know how to.
When everyone loves you and cares about you and has nothing but good things to say it’s really frustrating when you look in the mirror and you don’t see those things.
People ask why I work so hard, try so hard, do so much. And I’m not trying to make them look bad. I’m not trying to be some brown nosed, goodie-goodie. It’s just I need to be doing something. I need to be busy. I need to have a schedule and things to look forward to if I’m going to beat this. Because if I don’t have these things and I don’t have the structure I fall apart and fall into myself and get trapped in my own head, which is the worst place in the entire world to be.
I don’t fit the stereotype of someone who is depressed. I wasn’t the emo kid in high school wearing all black cutting my wrists in the guidance councilor’s office every week. I was the captain of the volleyball team. I was friends with everyone. I was in NHS. I had straight A’s. I was highly ranked in my ROTC class. My letters of recommendation for college were glowing and I got into almost every school I applied to. And all of that continued in college. But maybe that’s the point. You don’t see depression. Because depression is all about how well you can hide it.
There shouldn’t be a stereotype because I think we all feel these things sometimes. Regardless of how popular you are or the type of family you come from. There is no pattern to that we can trace to connect people who are depressed. The only thing we can say is everyone feels these things sometimes. I just think some people are a little better at hiding it than others.