I have struggled with depression for most of my adult life. I am sure I struggled with it as a teen too, but never really thought twice about it. I sucked it up and moved on. As an adult, it has been much harder. I think as we grow up, we realize that life does not always get better, there are hardships that we face, we lose loved ones, we lose loves, we lose friends, and we ever lose ourselves.
I lost myself. Once you lose yourself, it is so hard to find “you” again. The you that was lost is never the you that is found. For me, the me I found was so much different than the one I lost. I went from the girl who sought constant approval from everyone to the woman who did not care if you approved. I realize that I am the only one that has to be happy with my decisions. Coming from my family, that is hard to realize and accomplish. My grandmother’s favorite phrase is: “If I was you…” (Yes, I know that is incorrect grammar.)
So in the “If I was you” world, it is hard to decide for yourself. I have my grandmother telling me what is best, my mother telling me what is best, and me telling me what I want. Of course, Granny and Mom are always right, but sometimes the decisions that they would make, are not the decisions that would benefit me. I am creative. I am sensitive. I am loving. I am considerate. I am constantly thinking ahead and over-analyzing everything. Not all of these traits are good traits, but they are mine.
My traits make me, me. Plain and simple. I think everyone likes to look at themselves as breaking the mold of whatever mold they feel stuck in; I know I do. My mold is this: overweight my entire life, band geek, good at school (not so good at life), loves reading, introvert that loves to talk, opinionated, animal lover (more so than people lover), and sensitive. (Oh, did I mention sensitive?) These things make up me.
The overweight part of me has made me sensitive in a lot of areas that I do not think other people are. I never really thought a lot about my weight growing up, because I was not really picked on because of it. I am from a small town, and it is just the way I always was. Everyone accepted me, loved me, friended me, and included me. I always wanted to play volleyball. I never did. I could not run like the rest of my friends, I joined the band. The worst part of band camp – running the ONE lap around the football field. Yes, I said one. I hated it, I dreaded it, and it almost gave me anxiety to think about it. Literally, I wanted to call in sick to band camp for this reason; however, there was no calling in sick to band camp. I sucked it up and finished last every day.
When I went away to college, this is where I started noticing the difference. People did not really comment, at least the people I knew. I would get rude remarks walking into a store or out of a restaurant. I would just ignore them and act like I had not heard them. I did hear them, and they hurt. I knew I was a “big” girl, but I was still a girl. This is where dating comes in. I never really dated in high school, because all of the boys were like brothers. I knew them from age 5 to now. We knew everything about each other, and I did not want to date that. I am sure they did not want to date me either.
In college I met and dated quite a few guys. One specifically sticks with me, because he was a chubby lover. The bigger the girl, the more he liked it. I found this out very soon after we started dating. It always made me feel uncomfortable, and never good about myself. I just felt like a side show of sorts. We dated for almost two years. Why? Because he liked me and was there.
As the years went on, I dated lots of men who were more like boys, and I really never had a connection with. I never really felt like any of them knew me, because I would not let them know me. I was proud of my education (because I was good at it), and this bothered some of them. (Strong woman, strong mind – scared little boy.) I did not care that it bothered them, I dumbed it down so they would not feel threatened. I felt like I needed to do this, for them.
Along the way, and through the years, I lost myself. I lost who I was. I stopped putting myself first. I put school, work, and whatever boyfriend I had at the time first. My mother never encouraged this, please do not misunderstand this. My mother always preached independence and not letting a man take care of you. A woman need to be able to take care of herself in any situation. I learned from an awesome mother, who was single for a part of my childhood, and did everything by herself. She was amazing, and tried to instill that in me as well. It just took longer for me to realize it.
Fast forward a few years, I have graduated, I have moved, and I have started a new job. I also have a new boyfriend. This one was a complete game changer for me. He knew me. He understood me. He got me. He loved me. The last thing is important, because in spite of knowing every little secret and thought I had, he loved me. I loved him for this reason. He helped me find a part of myself again. He helped me realize that I am worth more than I thought. I have more to offer than just a fancy education, and that I am amazing all on my own. Granted, we are not together anymore, but he gave me something no one else can. He gave me the ability and confidence to find myself again.
I have found myself. I am by no means comfortable in my own skin, and I kind of lost sight of me for a bit. It was a hard journey out of the depressed state I was in, but I found the light that is me and within me again. I realized while in my challenge group, that all of the ladies with me have also been through some sort of self-discovery all on their own. They are an amazing group of women, who inspire me to be even better than my best self as of today. I have a family and friends who are supporting me so very much. I have an excellent, understanding and so very considerate boyfriend that I adore more and more every day. I have a job with excellent co-workers. I have goals. It is good to have me back again!