On the Days I Don't Like Me
I came to a realization today. I don’t like me.
Let me back up. As a kid I was always happy, always engaged in the world around me and always ready to fling myself in a huge imaginary game with my brother. I was confident and quite well-spoken as a child. I lived. I lived with fervor.
At some point in my late teens or early 20s, that changed. I can’t really pinpoint when, but everything became gray. The bright world around me slowly faded to a muted grayish fog. I lived in a sorority house at the time and I self-sabotaged. My depression knew it couldn’t win with a support group of 65 women. So it isolated me. I moved into this basement apartment with dark wood cabinets and dark brown carpet with hardly any natural light. I didn’t leave. I let my anxiety build booby traps for burglars. I piled fans in front of windows, moved chairs in front of doors and triple checked the locks. I shut the dark red curtains on the little light that seeped in and turned off the lights, so the only light was a violent flickering from the TV. Most nights I slept upright in an armchair facing the door.
I had no appetite so I fed myself lies, like nobody loves you. Nobody wants to hang out. Look, there’s nobody answering your calls. You’re worthless, you’re hated, you are not good enough. In reality, I had a bunch of people who loved me. Family, friends, sisters from the sorority I unceremoniously excommunicated myself from. They were just busy. Busy living the life I could have. Living without ever knowing I was suffering in my tiny little apartment in the dark. I never let them know how bad things really were.
As I grew older I considered myself a fighter. A smart girl who wouldn’t let others hurt me. That life was a battle and I’ll do my damnedest to win. I would come to realize nobody was attacking me.
Recently, my live-in boyfriend left town for a week. It was the first time I’d really been alone in over a year. Alone for more than a few days. Alone with enough time for my depression and anxiety to start filling my mind with lies again.
When I’m wrapped in the darkness, I write. I’ve learned it lightens things for me. It helps make things a bit more manageable. My personal storm feels tangible and validated if I can capture my feelings long enough to wrestle them onto the page. While he was gone this is what I wrote:
“Maybe I’m not depressed enough. Or anxious enough. Maybe I’m not Native enough. Maybe I’m not Hispanic enough. Maybe I’m not smart or influential or kind enough.
But I often feel like I’ve had enough.
My mind is dark enough. To send myself to bed for days.
My chest is tight enough. To make me stumble walking down a hall.
I’m “brown” enough for people to speak to me in Spanish.
I’m “red” enough for other native brothers and sisters to ask who my people are.
I’m smart enough to know anxiety and depression are illnesses, not a defect.
I’m influential enough to have young girls be inspired by my passion for the sport I love.
I’m kind enough to not correct you when you tell me none of these are something I have enough of.
I sent this to my cousin, who struggles like I do. She told me whoever is telling me I am not good enough is full of it. That I’m better than good enough, and that individual needs to be cut from my life before their darkness bleeds into my heart.
I thought about it: Who are these people who are telling me I’m not enough? Who do I need to release in order to release my own mind? Who do I have to stop being “kind enough” not to correct? I didn’t like the answer I came up with.
It was me. I don’t think I’m enough. I know now I don’t like me.
But I also know inside my head lives a liar. This liar is sometimes booming, and sometimes whispering. This liar can ready me for a fictional battle (I always had such a great imagination). Or this liar can speak so softly to me I don’t even notice the damage it has done (this liar is a special kind of scary).
So I’ve come to this: I don’t like me. There’s a part of me that doesn’t like the person I am. A part that cannot accept I am good enough.
But that’s OK because the bigger part thinks I’m everything; and that’s the part that will win.
The Mighty is asking the following: For someone who doesn’t understand what it’s like to have your mental illness, describe what it’s like to be in your head for a day. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.