I revisited my ‘About B’ page yesterday to give it a little refresh, and I decided that my story deserved a post of its own.
If anyone feels the way I am about to describe, then please know that things do get better for all of us. We just have to keep going and keep talking to our Doctor, counsellor and any trusted loved ones we have. We every one of us deserve to be here and have our gifts to offer xx
2009 – the year I finally had enough
In 2009 my life near enough fell apart. I was consumed with unrequited love. The guy was a work colleague so every day was painful. Disgustingly painful. As someone whose confidence and self-esteem has always been on the low side, my daily mantra was:
“I am not good enough”.
I had a non-existent acting career and in its place a string of totally unrelated and completely unfulfilling temp jobs in finance, which I kept getting sacked from because I just couldn’t portray any semblance of enthusiasm for my life. I was there in person but there was no light behind my eyes. The career I’d trained for and dreamed of my whole life was a closed shop and, once again, the message glaring out at me (so I thought) was:
“I am not good enough”.
I was broke. Always broke. I couldn’t afford to go out socially and as I got more depressed I stopped wanting to. I spent my evenings laying on my bed in the dark. Every night. I didn’t always have money for food. If my clothes or shoes got ruined or broke I couldn’t afford to replace them. My self-esteem sank further and further and I was sure that my appearance reflected how poor I was, and it only reinforced how unattractive I felt. I compared myself to other women, and my brain screamed:
“I am not good enough”.
I had a lot of people leaning on me to help them as well, some of whom also felt extremely sad and hopeless and needed my time and energy to support them. But my reserves were desperately low. And then a couple of people I knew passed away.
I spent my days breaking down in tears at work, and my nights in the darkness of my bedroom hoping I would not wake up in the morning. I looked at the cars driving along the busy road I lived on and wished I had the courage to walk in front of one.
I felt terribly ashamed, and regretful that my life had turned out as it had and I felt sorry for my parents that they had such a daughter. I actually apologized to them that I’d become such a screw-up. I felt guilty. My self-esteem was down to zero, I couldn’t see any redeeming features in myself whatsoever. I was a waste of good oxygen.
In the end, I went to the Doctor and was diagnosed with depression. She prescribed me anti-depressants. I had never imagined myself taking them and I remember sitting in Trafalgar Square with my dear friend who had used them before, feeling like a total failure that my life had come to this, and asking him how I would feel if I took them. Would I still feel like me, or would they alter my mind drastically?
I am glad that I decided to take them. They saved my life in that darkest period. I started to feel a bit lighter. They enabled me to carry on. I kept using them until I had the energy to do a little work on myself and at this point I stopped taking them. I should have followed my Doctor’s advice and weaned myself off gradually, as I felt quite sick withdrawing them so quickly, but I was now keen to move forwards and start making some changes.
I got into reading. A lot. Books on depression, websites and blogs on confidence and improving your self-belief. I meditated every day, once before work to get me up and then again on my lunch hour to help me finish the day. I sought advice endlessly. I leaned heavily on one or two amazing, freakishly patient, endlessly giving friends, and I had an inexhaustable supply of love from my parents.
Getting through it and coming out the other side was ultimately my own doing and one of my greatest accomplishments now I look back. I decided to commit wholeheartedly to making myself feel better. I worked hard to understand my negative thought patterns. I released myself from unhealthy relationships and removed myself from unhealthy situations. I isolated myself but this time it was because I was protecting myself, meditating, thinking, reflecting, studying and figuring things out.
I recognized that I was bullying myself. I would never dream of telling anybody “you are not good enough”, yet I did it to myself all the time. It simply was unacceptable and rationally I knew I hadn’t done anything to warrant being so horrible to myself; I now had to lose the habit.
I also worked on discovering what I want in life. Just in theory. What would make me happy. What do I deserve. What do I need. What gifts do I have? What have I already accomplished? And what is real success?
Eventually, I began daring to hope again. It was hard because I had grown to believe that hoping for anything would always leave me broken-hearted. The universe always let me down. But I kept working and working on feeling better about myself, and I gradually started to feel more worthy, and with that it became more feasible for me to hope.
I have had depression since, as I have documented here. By no means am I completely cured or have everything figured out, nor have I pulled myself together into a totally rational, fully confident and contented person. I still have moments of “I am not good enough” – it is so deeply ingrained in me, it will take many years to remove that particular catchphrase from my brain’s vocabulary.
But I am so much better off than I was. I actually think that this depression was necessary – I went down to the depths in order to realize that my life choices and my mental habits were not working for me. It allowed me to make incredibly positive changes and make huge leaps towards being the real me. While I do not necessarily want to relive it (although I have, and probably will again because its part of who I am), I can see that it was a turning point, and a mass of good things have come from it.
And, in a lovely little happy ending, my unrequited love became available, and became requited 🙂