I hate my birthday. I’ve hated it since I was 13, which is the first year that I started to show signs of depression.
My birthday has always been bruised by disappointment, a long build up to a hard letdown. My depression manifests in doubt, and my birthday has become the yearly event where my doubts are justified.
A month ago I made the commitment to talk openly about my depression, but this is one of the most difficult posts I’ve written. I am not ungrateful for my friends and I love and appreciate them. Whatever is in my head is something I’ve created myself and no one else is responsible for how I think.
So my depression manifests in doubt, which means most of the time I am trying to reassure myself that I am doing okay. I am divided between feeling stupid and worthless and trying to think my way out of feeling that way. When it comes to my friendships, it means that I am constantly trying to convince myself that I am worthy of other people and that other people like me and want to spend time with me, even though I feel that they don’t.
While I can usually find reassurances to ease my thoughts and help me get through stuff, there’s a point where my feelings of inadequacy take over and I can’t stop it and I start to really spiral.
There are a lot of factors in my life right now that are making me self-critical. When I make a mistake at work or when someone cancels plans, I begin to internalize all my doubt and anxiety and I really start to hate myself. I hate myself so much I can’t imagine anyone else loving me. My hate stops me from doing anything I enjoy because I don’t feel like I deserve it.
So at my birthday party last night when hardly anyone I invited showed up, it felt like an affirmation of my self hate. Instead of enjoying my time with the people who were there (thanks again, by the way) I spent more time thinking about all the reasons they wouldn’t come. I felt guilty for inconveniencing the people who came and I couldn’t bring myself out of it. I must have apologized to everyone 20 times because I felt like I was preventing everyone from having a good time. Logically, I know that they were there because they wanted to be, but it’s hard to feel that after being rejected 20 times at once.
My depression also makes me critically sensitive to criticism. Depression magnifies the negatives and minimizes the positives. Over the past few weeks I received a lot of criticism at work from others, but the majority was self criticism. That, and my birthday became a constant barrage of emotional blows and I think I hit my limit today and I cried in front of everyone. My managers handled it without much tact or sensitivity so I had an emotional collapse and now I am essentially useless.
In my previous post about depression, I wrote about how appearing cheerful does not mean that a person is happy. I get funnier when I’m down so I can stop people from knowing how I feel. I spend more time on my hair and makeup so that no one will ask why I’m not taking care of myself. Depression does not mean that someone is mopey, sleepy, or always crying (although that does happen for some people.) So again, I’m just asking for patience and understanding while I work through this.
And thank you for all the well wishes.