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When Depression Makes You Feel Like You Are Either 'Too Much' or 'Not Enough'

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As far back as I can remember, I’ve struggled with feeling like I’m either “too much” or “not enough.” I can’t always put my finger on exactly why I feel that way, but there is just a general impression I get from others that leaves me with that idea. Or maybe it’s some kind of pressure I put on myself — I don’t know for sure. What I do know is, either way, it’s miserable. And also, my depression has only served to make it worse.

As a child in elementary school, I received excellent grades. On the surface, that seems like a good thing, and in all reality, it should have been a good thing. Something happened, though. It turned it into not such a good thing for me. I got picked on for being “smart” or told I thought I was “so much smarter than everyone else” because of my grades. This led to my thinking I was “too much.” I felt like people probably didn’t want to be friends with me because I was too smart, so I started making bad grades on purpose sometimes. I figured that would solve the problem of my being “too much.” My ruse didn’t last long, though, because my mother and my teacher caught on to what I was doing. So that was the end of that plan. Looking back now, I wonder if this fear of being “too much” had anything to do with the depression that would follow me into adulthood. Perhaps this was one of the roots that sprung up into something much stronger and harder to overcome as I grew older.

As a teenager, I never felt like I completely fit in with any one crowd. I felt like I was on the outskirts of everything and everyone. I faced some difficult times during these years. My boyfriend and I were in a car accident, and he was killed. I spent a long time blaming myself. I thought if I’d chosen to go a different place, or if I’d been driving instead of him, then maybe we wouldn’t have wrecked. I spent night after night crying in my room alone, feeling this huge, gaping emptiness in my chest.

A few months later, I got pregnant. The father of the baby decided not to have anything to do with us. I felt like I was “not enough.” I believed if I could have been prettier or funnier or more popular, then maybe he would have chosen to stay. I also think about the effect these events had on me and their contribution to the negative self-talk which often accompanies my depressive episodes. I struggle now with thoughts of not being good enough as a wife and mother, and these thoughts sometimes propel me towards a slippery slope into suicidal ideation.

Depression has a way of bringing out my insecurities. The unfortunate things is, when I’m feeling insecure, I often make poor decisions or make choices based on fear. I will get overly sensitive and snap easily. I worry about my loved ones leaving me. I will either suffocate them with neediness or shut them out completely. I am trying to recognize my feelings and talk about them though, so that my family and friends can understand why I react the way I do. I am finally learning to understand myself, and that is a huge part of the healing process.

I’d like to go back to that little girl in elementary school. I want to tell her to make as many good grades as she can and hold her head up high. I want to tell her not to cower in the face of bullies or let anyone make her feel like she is “too much.” She is just exactly what she is supposed to be. And then I’d like to pay a visit to that teenage girl. I’d tell her that sometimes accidents happen, and that she wasn’t responsible for the one that took her boyfriend’s life. I’d also like to tell her how brave she was for choosing to take care of a baby on her own, and that the only one missing out is the one who walked away. Then I’d remind her that she is enough. Finally, I want to look in the mirror at the girl I am today — the girl who bravely battles depression day after day — and remind her of this: “You have been, are and will always be enough.”

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure.

Originally published: July 3, 2017
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