When Confidence Wanes

“I am confident because I can admit who I am, what I’ve done, and love myself for who I’ve become.”

For close to 50 years I’ve lived with chronic depression. Being medicated for many of these years I don’t have a point of reference for what “normal” really feels like yet “normal” is the one thing just beyond my grasp and the one thing in life I’ve desired most.

Many might think that when you live with a chronic illness for so long it would get easier but for me, it’s just different. I’ve only learned within the past few years to identify some of the triggers which send me into a downward spiral.

It typically begins with nothing; like something doesn’t feel quite right but I can’t articulate what’s wrong. The more I try to figure out what’s causing my angst the more apprehensive I become. This immense pressure begins spreading throughout my chest making it almost impossible to do the simplest of daily tasks like getting up, making the bed, taking a shower, getting dressed, heck, even breathing is difficult because I’m hyper aware yet paralyzed.

I feel overwhelmingly exhausted and I’m experiencing panic attacks. Even though logically I know I have unrealistic expectations for myself the tension inside of me continues to build and I think “not again, I can’t do this, I can’t be feeling this way because I have so much to do”. No amount of telling myself to “calm down it’s only a panic attack” helps, I can feel my heart rate increasing as my anxiety grows.

There are so many thoughts like rapid fire running through my head but it’s the feelings of self-loathing, guilt, helplessness, and hopelessness that threaten to take me over the edge. Oddly enough if it’s a beautiful day it makes me feel worse because something inside of me is telling me I should be energetic, I should soak up the sun and feel alive but I don’t want to but at the same time I do. I know it sounds crazy and I wish I could get out of my head but I’m so tired and so incredibly sad. What’s worse is knowing I’m a fighter but I feel so weak, so depleted.

I try to latch onto those past trials I’ve overcome but it’s just too much and I just want to stop thinking and only sleep. No matter how many times I go through these episodes they scare me because I feel like I’m losing my grip like I’m hanging by a strand and one more thing might cause it to break, cause me to break. It can last one day or five and I really don’t know what breaks the cycle and I think I don’t care I just want it to lift. Coming out of it is almost as scary as being in the midst of it because it’s a tentative thing. I mean, what if I’m not really feeling well, it’s important for me to take it slow and easy so as to not get sucked back into the vacuum that is depression.

Today I feel a little better but I’m still hesitant. Life is so fleeting it sucks that something so empty like depression and its lies can suck all the good out of me but it’s a process. I hold onto the hope that it won’t last forever and I’ll come out on the other end replenished. Life isn’t a fairytale, it isn’t the perfect pictures we post to social media, it’s messy, painful, and hard.

When I was younger I used to think my depression was the result of my childhood experiences but now I’m not so sure. The one thing I do know is it certainly wrecks havoc on the confidence I’ve so carefully honed. Or just maybe accepting depression as part of me makes me confident.