Ever since I was young, I had big dreams for myself. I mentioned before I knew in third grade that I wanted to be a writer. Eventually I thought maybe I wanted to be a journalist, but taking 9th grade journalism cured me of that idea. I was definitely not a “get in your face and ask the tough questions” person. I was a “stand in the corner and hope nobody notices me” person. It was OK though, I still had my writing skills, especially in creative writing. I would get published, and become a success.
As I got older, I knew something wasn’t quite right. I cried far too much, and I was often sad for no reason. I lived in my fantasies. I wanted to be thin, I wanted to have a wonderful husband, I wanted a great job. I shut out reality. I was going nowhere fast. I lost job after job for no good reason, and I often dreaded leaving the house.
Into my mid 20’s, the only thing that helped me write was my sadness. My depression, now diagnosed, consumed me. I wasn’t in school, I didn’t have a boyfriend, hated any job that I could keep for more than a month, and spent a lot of time online. This is when the notion set in that I had failed at life. I was a failure. I could see it on my parents’ faces, every time I came home early after being let go from another job.
Why did I keep letting this happen? Yes, I suffer from depression, but is this the only life I can possibly lead?
The word FAILURE was written on my forehead. I carried it around with me everywhere I went. I never felt like I was good enough. My self-esteem hit an all-time low, and I felt lost. Friends and family didn’t understand. People were making a hasty exit from my life left and right. That was OK with me, I didn’t want anyone to witness how badly I had screwed up.
May of 2001, my life completely changed. People will tell you that when you have found your place in the world, or found the great love of your life, you will know it. It’s true, it really is. If you allow yourself to take down the walls you have put up around yourself, your whole view of life changes. Does it happen instantly? Nope. Do you automatically feel as if you have conquered your demons and you now lead a successful life? Nope. Is there hope? YES!
I often tell say that you can’t just take the medications you have been prescribed and sit and wait for your depression to get better. You have to do the work too. I am not trying to sell you on the concept that if you think positive your life will all of the sudden live up to your expectations. Most of us try to think positive, and it doesn’t help. This disease is far too strong for that. But, if you work at it, a little every day, and set small, realistic goals for yourself, you will start to feel that sense of accomplishment.
Are you in the same position as friends or people you went to school with? Probably not. Are they in your shoes? Most definitely not. So, why compare yourself to them? Maybe you didn’t lose all of the weight you wanted to lose, or get married before you turned whatever age, and you aren’t the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
What are you? A survivor. A warrior. You stood and looked your disease in the eye and said, NO MORE.
I am realizing that now that I have turned 40, maybe I am not as successful as some people I know. Does it make me a failure? Nope. It makes me a success in a totally different way. I have quite literally been to hell and back, and I am still here….fighting. To anyone that is reading this that has looked back on their life and thought, “I have failed”. Stop looking back. You can’t change any of that.
What you can do is stay the course. Keep moving. TRY. Try as hard as you can to keep your head up. If you have a bad day, or a bad week, even a bad month, tell yourself that it’s going to be OK. You’ve made it through worse, you can make it through this. Stop comparing yourself to other people. This is something that I have been desperately trying to teach myself, so I know how hard it is. Believe me. If you ever want to feel a sense of normalcy again, you will learn from your past mistakes.
Am I a failure? NO. Are you a failure? NO. Have we succeeded when we so badly had lost our way?
Be proud of yourself, for once. You did it.