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When Depression Makes You Feel 'Invisible'

I have often referred to myself as someone invisible, someone hardly noticeable. Most of my life, I have felt, for whatever reason, like an outcast — someone who doesn’t belong (or better yet, who never belongs). For short periods of time, it got to the point where I almost lost my sense of self. I wasn’t a human being anymore, but merely a dead soul trapped in a living body. During these occurrences, I had to force myself to feel alive again; by letting the tears out streaming down my face while facing the mirror, at times even talking to myself. I felt painfully invisible. For years, this had been due to my shyness and subsequent lack of friendships. When the worst of news would emerge and my world would come crashing down, I was alone — with no one to turn to. It was not just about having no one to help me carry the burden of pain, but also no one to share the joyful times with.

It was as if a brick wall was separating me from the outside world. I was trapped inside my own, with intoxicating thoughts crumbling over my head, unable to reach anyone. The loneliness did not only enhance the debilitating impact of the engendered thoughts. It also gave birth to much wider self-esteem issues. The main branch that grew from the low confidence tree is one that oftentimes triggered jealousy — a defect that I regret but must admit having possessed repeatedly. In my mind, comparison ruled over anything else. There was always an opportunity to draw comparison, whether it came from the most trivial of things or not.

As rejection extended, so did comparison. This all resulted in feelings of failure and defeat, added to a number of low emotions, such as feeling stuck — when nothing in our life seems to work out and yet everyone else’s making progress. We have been conditioned to social comparison by a society that keeps promoting yearly rankings in all areas of our life. Yet, the situation is more intricate when depression becomes involved. It is not mere social comparison, but constant comparison. Our flaws and faults seem to expand. Everything can become subject to comparison. It is as if we were continually being assessed by ourselves (and our peers).

The lens of comparison is distorting. Nonetheless, for many individuals dealing with depression, it can rule their life. To detach oneself from its over-controlling effects can almost feel impossible. One single failure or luckless event may give it back all of its power — job rejection, unsuccessful relationships and even a slightly-disguised judgmental comment.

On the days when navigating through life’s wildest storms, I attempt at defying the emotional struggle by simply “being the best” at something, anything. An area I seem to excel at (which might well be the only one too) is styling. Although I usually am one to fight against the “best vs. worst” rankings in the media and daily conversations, on the bad days I cheer myself up by wearing an attire that I feel will make me the most stylish, or the hottest, or perhaps even the most “standout-ish.” Nonetheless, to think of oneself so highly in every area and in everyday life may become toxic and cause a negative mindset. But once in a while, feeling good in our own skin — be it by wearing the best outfit or publishing the most popular article online — can be a good way to loosen up the cords of comparison that keeps us withheld from the outside world.

To stand out when we feel unseen. To feel valuable when our mind reminds us of our worthlessness. And mostly to remind ourselves that even through thick and thin we can do our best, without feeling the need to be the best.

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