When you’re scraping bottom with your depression, there’s a lot you don’t express.
The people around you might not even have any idea that you’re scraping bottom.
They might see you as a perfectly functional human being, with no indication that there’s anything wrong at all.
I can tell you from my own experience that people who know me from the period when I was at my worst, tend to be surprised to learn that every day I was waging a private battle against my own thoughts, feelings, and impulses.
I went for a period of several years where my behavior was reliably self-sabotaging and self-harmful.
But almost no one knew.
I was very good at hiding it.
People who struggle with depression, anxiety, and trauma over the long term get very good at hiding it.
It’s not that we’re trying to be dishonest with anybody. It’s often that we are embarrassed or ashamed.
I certainly didn’t want the people around me to know that I was having trouble just living day to day.
I didn’t want anyone to know the kinds of things I was doing to try to manage my feelings.
I felt weak and out of control and pathetic. Why on earth would I want anyone to know anything about any of that?
So I hid it.
In my case, at the time I was at my worst, I was involved in the local performing arts scene. I was regularly cast in productions for a local dinner theater, and I received reasonably good reviews for my performances.
Little did anyone know that the reason I was performing at the time was because it was one of the few jobs available where I didn’t have to get up before noon.
In the performing arts, even in the relatively small performing arts community I was in at the time, you kind of are who you say you are. You can basically invent a story about what your deal is.
I told the people around me that I was a student— and I was, technically. I was enrolled at the local community college.
Little did anyone suspect that, although I continued to enroll every semester, I basically never showed up to class, due to a combination of depression and anxiety that made leaving the house almost unbearable.
People who knew me at that point in my life would probably tell you I was somebody who enjoyed performing, and someone who was fairly good at it.
And I was.
They didn’t know that my life was basically a performance.
They didn’t know that every single day I felt increasingly ground down, emotionally.
They didn’t know that my struggle to just get out of bed and leave the house was a reflection of a larger struggle: I was desperately searching for reasons to keep living at all.
Those who know my story know that it didn’t end there.
I ended up making major changes in my life— and that my life changes were largely due to material that I had discovered in the self-help literature.
This is why, to this day, I feel so strongly about the self-help community: it played a large role in keeping me alive once upon a time.
But the point of this post is to acknowledge that if you feel like every day is a performance, if you’re just hanging on day to day, if you feel like the entire world is clueless to how desperate you are: hang in there.
I’ve been there.
Things do change.
I got lucky and found what I needed— and what you need IS out there.
Maybe reading these words are part of that process.
But please, please don’t give up.
And please know you’re not alone.
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