Depression, Mental Health

Am I Still Who I Said I Was?

I went back today and reread what I had posted about myself when I began my blog.  It is kind of funny how I really don’t remember writing this.  Rereading it made me stop and think.  Am I still this person?  Have I grown any since then?  Do I still believe what I said back then?  The answer to those questions is yes.  But, I am more than that; I am so much more than that.

Writing these posts has been hard.  It’s been much harder than I ever thought it would be and I knew that all along that it was going to be hard as hell. There have been periods of time when I find it impossible to write. The thoughts are there, but the courage to do so is not.  I have spent so many years NEVER talking to anyone about myself and I never thought I would be brave enough to share many of my innermost thoughts and secrets. I’m still unable to talk about much of my life.  I’m not sure if it’s because I think those things will be hurtful to others, hurtful to me, shameful to my family, too revealing, or just none of anyone else’s business.  I do know, however, that being able to finally talk about my life has been healing to me.  I think that actually writing those thoughts down and hitting that “Publish” button is a means of release for me.  For those things that I have written about, it has been a way to let them go, a way to lift them from my heart and to admit to myself that I was not the cause of the hurt.

I will admit one thing, though.  The one thing that worries me (and it goes back to that feeling of fear or distrust or just uncomfort I have when people are nice to me) is that I fear that when my friends see the posts, they feel obligated to tell me that I’m a great person or a strong person or that “whatever it is they say to me”.  I never want any of my friends to feel obligated to try to make me feel better about myself.  Please know that I am not posting these thoughts in order to garner any sympathy.  I don’t do it to have others feel sorry for me.  I don’t do it to have someone post something positive that may boost my ego.  I would love for all who read my posts to reply on the blog itself and let me know their thoughts about what I write. I want to know that they are beginning to understand how depression lives and what it does to a person.  The more replies made, the more my blog goes out to others.  And that is one of my goals.  But my main goal is for these posts to become a means of release for me and a means of learning for others. Each post is a type of education, in a way.  I do it so that others may see that someone who struggles with depression is still a real person.  I do it so that others may somehow understand that depression is not something shameful.  (Although I really think that I am probably still trying to convince myself that I am a real person and that my depression is not shameful.)  I do it so that it becomes easier to actually talk about my depression to others.  Talking about it is helpful.  I do it so that others may learn how helpful it is to finally be able to talk about their own depression. I do it so that others might realize that when they see me out in public and I seem to be happy or funny or normal — I have dug back into my chest of masks and have put one of them on to hide my true feelings.  Those masks are always there when others are around. Very seldom — and with very few people — am I ever without a mask.   I would LOVE to be able to put away this chest of masks and just be myself. I just don’t know who that person without a mask is.

And that is why I wrote the following about myself.

I am just a person.  I am just like you.  I am nothing like you.  I have dreams, fears, needs, wants, demons,  and joys.  You may have these, also.  I have suffered just as many of you have — abuse, rejection, put-downs, disappointments, unfulfilled expectations, and terrors.  Do I understand why this has happened to me?  No.  Will I ever fully understand?  Probably not.  Is it fair?  No.  Can I change those things in my past that have made me “me”?  No.  Do I wish I could?  Of course.  Knowing these things, what do I plan to do about it?  Not sure yet, but I do know that I’m going to change.  I am going to become whole again (although I wonder if I was ever whole to begin with).

I was first a daughter.  I am a sister.  I was a child.  I was a student.  I was then a wife. I was then a mother. Then, I was no longer a wife.   I was a teacher.  I am now a retired teacher. I am my children’s biggest cheerleader.  I am a Grams who cherishes her grandchildren.  I am a loyal friend.  I am a floundering Christian.  I am a lover of knowledge.  I am someone who has spent time in a Mental Health facility.  I am a person involved in on-going mental health therapy.  I am a person who yearns to love and be loved.  I am a person who wants to understand all the “why’s” of life.  I am a person who has many fleeting interests.  I am a person with big dreams.  I am a Southerner.  I am an expert in the art of sarcasm.  I am a lover of words.  I am a person who has lived behind an array of masks for most of my life.  I am a person who is constantly climbing to reach the light at the top of the hole that I find myself in quite frequently.  I am a person determined to become whole.  I am Betty (although Social Security and the DMV insist that I be Elizabeth.)   I am now a Blogger.

The goal I had when I began this blog was to educate others about depression. To those with depression, this is not necessary, they know all too well what it is.  While I am certainly not an expert about depression, I can speak of it first-hand.  I have lived with it for most of these 67 years. I have hidden from life because of it.  I have hidden from my friends, from my family, and I have hidden from myself.  My desire is to stop hiding and because of this blog, I am slowly learning to do so.

But there are still many people out there in this great big world who truly don’t understand.  They still believe that depression is when a person is sad.  They believe that depression is a cop-out.  They believe that a person with depression is weak, that they should be able to just “snap out of it”. They believe that a person with depression should just “turn it over to God” and He will fix it.  They believe that a person with depression should just exercise more and it will go away.  Oh, if it were only that simple. Wouldn’t life be grand?

But to answer the question — Am I Still Who I Said I Was? — the answer is “Yes”.  I am still Me, Betty O,  with all my flaws and imperfections.  I am still someone who longs to love and be loved –someone who just wants to be understood.  I have learned some things about myself and about my depression, although there is still much to be learned.  I am still someone who hopes that I have helped another person in a small way to understand that those of us who struggle daily with depression are not people who should be shunned or ignored.  We are just people, just like you, who want to be understood and loved.  It’s that simple.

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