"20 years of deceit; my relationship with depression"

For the last 20 years I have had the solid belief that there was something wrong with me. That I was unloveable. I could not feel love because I was crazy. I was worthless. I was a failure. Just to mention a few. From the age of 8, I can vividly remember these thoughts occurring constantly. I never knew what they were or where they came from. I just knew that they were true and I did not belong anywhere or fit in. I tried my best to make them go away, avoid them, and most importantly hide them from my family. You see, in my mind, I knew my family already thought this and I just didn't want to confirm it. 

I did not feel I had anyone that I could speak to or anyone who would understand or care. So this resulted in me keeping to myself, becoming a bed wetter (a symptom of anxiety in children) and what looked like a worrier to my family. I managed to convince myself that these thoughts and feelings had to be true. I did not know anyone else who felt this way and all the Disney movies I watched the princesses were always happy. When I progressed to adolescence the thoughts became louder, stronger and more evident. Except a new thought also decided to start coming to me, this thought being I did not deserve to be on this Earth. 

I battled for years with this. Eventually when you tell yourself something enough times, you actually believe it. That is what happened to me. Even once I got my diagnosis of clinical depression and anxiety at 18, I still believed it. I did not equate these feelings and behaviour to my depression. I was in denial. I did not want it to be true. It scared me beyond belief. Right up to the point where I made the decision to end my life 3 years ago. 

Luckily for me something made me hold on just a little bit longer. To not let go yet. I had a light bulb moment. I realised that just maybe, I had been lied to my whole life up until that point. Maybe what the doctors were telling me was right. Maybe the little soft voice deep inside me actually knew what she was talking about. 

For the first time in the 20 years I had depression, I found out depression is a liar. Depression wants me to feel unspeakable amounts of pain inside my head, because if I didn't believe depression then it would not be able to take control of my life. This sneaky illness made me ignore what I knew all along but did not have the ability to allow myself to feel and believe. There isn't something wrong with me. I am loveable. I can feel love. I am worthy and I am not a failure. 

Sometimes my depression is really loud, it catches me and I slip back for a while and believe it again. The difference is now, I manage it in a healthy way. I above all other things believe in myself even when things seem impossible I allow myself to dream. 

Live, breathe, embrace. 


Tenille Westerhout