So, I am not the most secure person. (Yeah, it’s one of those posts today. Not too late to bail.) I’m not good at asking for help, and hesitate to accept it when it is offered. I am uncomfortable with being taken care of and that is largely because I worry that, if I’m not always fun and easy to be around, people will just decide I’m not worth the effort and leave. When I took a quarter off from college to try to get a handle on my depression, one of my — let’s say, camp counselors* — said that it is not uncommon for people with depression to feel this way. We (the depressed) are constantly burdened by this huge, seemingly unconquerable thing.
And it doesn’t go away.
You aren’t just depressed one day. It’s all the time. The people who know you best are aware of it, and just that already feels like more than is fair to put on another person. So you do things for other people. You are always willing to help a friend move, pick them up from the airport at 4:00 am, cover lunch that day — because then they’ll stay. It’s not that you are trying to buy their affection — you are just constantly trying to make-it-up in advance, preparing for the day that you have to cancel plans because you can’t leave the house, or you feel too hollow to act “normal.”
Here’s the secret though: if you are depressed long enough, this becomes a habit. I have my depression under control – my medicine works, I don’t binge anymore, I leave the house – all that good stuff. But that fear of being a burden hasn’t gone away in the slightest. I still have the occasional bad night (like anyone**), but I am always afraid that if I bring it to someone else, that person will decide I’m more work than I’m worth.
I know there are people who care about me. I know that I would never desert a friend going through the same. But on the bad days it feels like they’re allowed to feel like that, and I’m not. It is my job to be the fun, easy one all the time so that people will like having me around. Unfortunately, the best cure I have managed to find so far is faith in the people you care about (which is not very satisfying – sorry loved ones, IT ISN’T). The people who are worthwhile aren’t going anywhere, and the ones who do abandon you are not people who deserve your friendship anyway.
Oddly, what brought this up was the idea of imposter syndrome which, when I started this sentence had a very clear connection…hmm…OH! Both are kind of like you are faking it, worried that if people find out the truth about you…something. I guess it was kind of one of those train-of-thought connections that, when put on paper, is kind of a leap. Well whatever. For anyone who doesn’t know, imposter syndrome is the feeling that you are not actually as good as people think you are, and you are just faking it. At any moment the teacher will realize you are making it up, your boss will realize you are under-qualified, third example, etc. It is INCREDIBLY common because, as we all find out around age 20, everyone is faking it. Seriously, if middle schoolers new how much of adult life was BS and dumb luck…well, then they would know. Oof, this paragraph is really wandering. I’m watching Whose Line Is It Anyway and the coherent ideas stopped after burdening others….
So, to summarize: you aren’t a burden, the good ones stick around, most people are faking it, those ideas are totally connected, and the only real cure to these problems is GET MORE CONFIDENT. So, good luck with that everybody! Peace! Here is a picture I took during a walk one evening a few weeks ago.
*The hospital program that I went to was not right for me. It was for people who were learning to cope with things that made life difficult, not with people with depression. It was not a particularly pleasant experience for me, but it got me back on a schedule. I didn’t let my dissatisfaction for the program over-all prevent me from picking the occasional smidgen of wisdom.