We all have our baggage.
We all walk out the doors some days with a spot on our chin, feeling fat, frumpy, uninteresting and small. Our clothes fit wrong and we haven’t achieved what we want and the kids are cross and worrying us and we’ve not written the novel in our head or got the job we want.
What some (most?) of us add to that is that we think everyone else is seeing our faults too. We forget they are mostly too worried about the spot on their own chin to worry about it. Most of us don’t walk around judging people on their dress size. It’s unlikely they are doing that to us.
People who live with depression can’t see that. People who don’t live with depression don’t understand that is the baggage that gets carried around.
We all (some? most?) have our self worth issues. Maybe it is not having the right hair, or the right qualifications, or the life someone else appears to have that makes us feel less valuable in comparison.
I’ve written about depression in the past, how it creeps up and grabs me round the neck, takes away everything I think is meaningful about me and runs a constant voice in my head telling me how I’m failing, no good, not clever, not worthwhile.
You might be too busy seeing all the things you might happen to think make my life good to see that I’m drowning. I’m strangling myself. I’ve put stones in my own pockets to weigh me down but I’m still trying to swim upwards.
I have my baggage. I exist in a family where everyone but me has a degree, for example. I have a famous scientist for a mum, a journalist for a dad, a sister with a successful career, a brother with more brains, letters after his name and knowledge than I can even comprehend, a husband who is so clever and quick that I don’t even try to keep up.
What I see is that I’m the girl who worked in a shop, was too lazy to go to university, rarely gets out of my pyjamas and can’t do equations and who failed at home educating in the end and sent her children to school.
I’m reasonably sure that what they see is a person who made an active choice to not go to university, set up and ran her own business, educated her children at home until they were intelligent, able and interesting young women, survived the death of her child, has a happy and successful marriage and a life to be envied.
It’s all in the edit. The life edited from the outside is very different to the one edited from the inside. My editing suite is currently waiting to release a disaster movie. Maybe you see this summer’s feel good flick.
A few months ago I had a conversation that completely crushed me. I felt humiliated and belittled me because it keyed into all of my trigger points; it made me feel stupid and inarticulate and laughable and flattened about something I’m passionate about, knowledgeable about and see as my place in the world. It’s on those little things that the downwards spiral starts. One minute I’m feeling good about my opinions, losing weight and having life under control, being good with words and finding happiness and the next minute I’ve lost it all. One little thing is manageable, when it combines with bumping up against another person with self worth issues and when that means that suddenly a physical place I have to go to becomes intimidating and frightening, it starts a chain. I can get away with hiding at home because I can work at home. I’m an uncomfortable social animal but I do like being with people and working with them. If I disappear, it is because things are wrong.
Things went wrong a while ago because of the breast lump. I hid and during that time my confidence happened to take a direct hit. Because I was hiding and feeling low I was away from somewhere else that meant I became an outsider and now whenever I go there I feel sick with fear because I don’t know what I’m walking into. When you live with depression, most days are a bit of a fight unless you happen to be on a very secure ‘upper’. Once you are down, almost everything, even a small criticism or a small piece of office nastiness becomes a total, crushing minefield.
So here is where I am at the moment. I’ve stopped losing weight and lost my willpower and it is making me feel useless. I’ve lost the power of using words in a way that adequately articulates a sense of being and I feel stupid. My power over my words defines me and I’ve lost my vocabulary for expression. I worked hard at saving something only to find I feel ostracised and unvalued there. I felt part of a group for a few weeks and now I know I am being laughed at and spoken about behind my back, criticised and deliberately excluded. For a long time I defined myself as a business women who had done an amazing job of building something but now I have lost my niche and business times are tough and what was once my success story now feels like a failure, even though in reality it plods along perfectly well. I defined myself as a home educator and now they are at school and I’m fighting a system I don’t believe in from the inside, knowing I’m failing my children every minute they remain in it but struggling to find the energy to do more than deal with staying inside it.
All I see – EVER – is all the things I do that I ought to be doing better.
Maybe you see a person who pops to London all the time, gets free stuff from her blog, writes because she seems to think she is important, has a business, seems confident in herself and life and role as a parent. Maybe you find me a threat.
Maybe you think I’m fair game for bitching about, criticising, trying to undermine and take away my role. Maybe your baggage means you need to do that to feel good about yourself. There is always a ‘why’ to every behaviour, I know that.
So let me tell you. I’m very small, on the inside. The only place I feel safe is at home. I have nothing I feel good about right now, nothing that makes me feel worthwhile or meaningful. I feel stupid and my sense of self is very low. I’ve got issues with the fact that my words have deserted me, my business isn’t flying, my girls are struggling and most places I go socially terrify me. I’ve lost the ability to feel that I can do things or articulate my opinions. I’m feeling my lack of education in the last 20 years keenly. I’m feeling my lack of focus keenly. I’m exhausted and life hasn’t gone the way I hoped. Every day is a struggle. If you attack me or belittle me or undermine me or try to prove that I’m not useful by removing my role and my value, don’t be surprised if I slink away.
Whatever you think of me that makes me a target, I can promise you, I’m not worth shooting down.