09 May 2014

Depression Lies: I Am a Fraud

All my friends thought I was a very happy human being. Because that's how I acted- like a really happy human being. But all that pretending made me tired. If I acted the way I felt, then I doubt my friends would have really hung out with me. So the pretending wasn't all bad. The pretending made me less lonely. But in another way, it made me more lonely because I felt like a fraud. I've always felt like a fake human being.
~ Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Last Night I Sang to the Monster


May is National Mental Health Awareness Month.  Join me in blogging to erase the stigma of mental illness so our loved ones can seek the help they need.




D
id you miss me?

Yeah, kinda obvious that I didn’t post yesterday.  I had every intention of doing so in the morning.  But as the day wore on, I just felt more tired, less focused, less confident, and more anxious. Most of all, I felt like a fraud.

Just another day in depression land.



“I am a Fraud”
Many people feel this way from time to time, especially creatives.  But people who suffer from depression (and creatives are more likely to suffer from depression) feel like this all the time.

It’s not always at the forefront of our minds, but it is there somewhere.  Lurking.  Waiting.  It can smell exhaustion and weakness like a shark smells blood.

Wait, do sharks actually smell?  Like, they have a nose that sniffs in water?  I never thought about that.  Oh, sorry, a little ADD moment there.  Where was I?  Oh yes…

Image credit: Lori Tennison
I am a fraud.  Sometimes this is very true, in the emotional sense.  I pretend to be happy-happy, joy-joy because that is what is expected.  And to a degree, that’s okay.  For the most part, I’m not an even keel, Eyeore type.  My depression is what’s known as cyclothymic, which is just as its name implies: cycles of mood.

It’s related to bi-polar disorder, but not as extreme.  And mine is a mild case.  And dear God, if mine’s mild, I truly ache for those who suffer from moderate to severe cases and those with bi-polar disorder.

Because let me tell you, even a mild case sucks.

Self-criticism is huge bogey for any creative.  But especially if you’re depressed.  Common phrases that play on repeat in our brains are:
“You’ll never be good enough.”
“If they only knew who you really are…”
“Who are you to think you can contribute anything worthwhile?”
“Why can’t you act nicer/happier/more outgoing?”
“If you weren’t so lazy, you would accomplish X, Y, Z.” 
We weren’t born with these phrases playing.  We heard them growing up and they’ve stayed with us, haunting us, crippling our abilities and our stripping us of joy. 

It becomes worse, the critical voice becoming louder, when we don’t sleep well, are dealing with a stressful situation, or have huge changes in our routine.  I was dealing with a stressful situation (or not dealing as the case may be) and so the feelings of inadequacy were heightened.  So the message I heard was
“What makes you think you’re qualified to write about this topic?  You haven’t suffered nearly as much as some have.  Why would anyone want to hear your story?”
And I’m sorry, but I just didn’t have the energy to withstand the negative onslaught of my lizard brain, so I walked away from the computer in shame and defeat.

But I also figured it would be better to do that, than to lie and pretend that everything was hunky-dory if it really wasn’t.

After all, that’s what this month is all about ~ destroying the stigma, and embracing who we are fully ~ depression and all.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

What do your inner voices say and how do you silence them?

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