Never Being Good Enough
I remember feeling that I was different, bad, wrong, unacceptable when I was 6 or so. A confusing event separated me in my head from those around me. I can’t remember any thoughts about my place amongst others prior to six so it’s not possible to compare but I’m aware when I felt separated.
My parents moved to America when I was 11 and I moved counties to live with my sister. The first year they were gone I remember coming home from school every day and crying. I thought I was weak to cry and miss them so much. My family told me I was fine, I was well taken care of, but I didn’t feel fine. I felt lost and alone and scared. When they left I felt like I was walking on solid pavement that suddenly gave way and I was free falling. For a very long time I never trusted the ground could ever feel solid again.
I was convinced that I could never be good enough to fit in or truly be accepted. I saw endless evidence of my separateness and inadequacy and I blamed myself. The shame, guilt and hopelessness that came from never feeling enough was an exhausting burden. I tried to end it all with pills before my 16th birthday but got scared and went to hospital.
Depression is a thief of many things. It drove me to close off from others precisely because I felt closed off from others. The external behaviour simply following the internal position. Withdrawal feels protective because participation and interaction feels overwhelming and distressing. I fear this sometimes hurts and confuses others which can feed back into self-blame and further withdrawal.
I was lucky that in my twenties I met a man that I later married, who changed my life. I went to the doctor, I sought out help. I received a couple different diagnoses and I began to learn how to manage the intensity of my feelings. Depression can feel hollow and subdued and yet within that the hopelessness can feel intense and vast.
How I Cope Today
I have tools now that I turn to. Long walks, writing, sleep, hugs, watching leaves on a tree is a soothing balm for me. There’s more and sometimes the best they can do is get me to the next moment. I read once, getting from one moment to the next is the only courage we really need in life. I’m not so afraid now. I can modulate the deep darkness that descends. I can tell myself it will pass in time and know it’s true even when I don’t believe it. I still have those feelings of being separate. I’ve learnt I’m not alone in that. Indeed, it’s an invisible tread that connects us.
– Kehlen Mikkelson
This post “I was convinced that I could never be good enough to fit in” is part of the Aware Mental Health Week (4-10 October 2021) campaign which is focused on causes, course and consequences of depression.
“With this campaign, we want to give people who are impacted by depression a voice. By sharing their inspiring stories, our goal is to provide hope, help people to feel less alone in their experience and most importantly empower anyone affected by depression to reach out for support.”
Dr Claire Hayes