Content warning: This piece is a stream of consciousness of the author’s mind that discusses suicide and suicidal thoughts, depression and depressive episodes, eating disorders, body dysmorphia and intrusive thoughts. Because it is written in the second person, it may be additionally triggering. Please take care to be in a ready state of mind before reading further.
This isn’t the full extent of the things I feel or the thoughts that run rampant through my mind on a daily basis. However, for my own sake and that of the reader’s, I’ve decided not to include or elaborate on certain intrusive thoughts or experiences because they are potentially triggering. Instead, I’ve chosen to highlight a few scenarios that explain how I feel without falling down the rabbit hole. To the mentally stable reader who doesn’t experience depressive episodes, body dysmorphia and self-loathing as often as I do, the contents of this piece may come off as dramatic or lazy or even self-victimizing. In response to that, I’d like to reiterate that I chose not to include everything I go through in this piece and shouldn’t be judged without awareness of the full extent of my situation.
I’d also like to emphasize that my goal with this piece is not to trigger others or induce negativity, but rather to bring attention to and confront the fact that if this piece resonates with you, you are not alone in feeling this way. Though there is so much stigma surrounding mental health and wellness, please know that the dark days will pass. You are strong. You are brave. You are beautiful. You have the capacity to heal and feel better about yourself. Acknowledging that depression and severe self-criticism are affecting the way you go about your days takes a lot of courage and strength, especially when you’re spiraling and life becomes too much to handle. Reaching out for help or even implementing those silly self-care rituals you might roll your eyes at is difficult and daunting. But they do work. Journaling and therapy and listening to the needs of your body are all effective ways to heal. I know because I’ve started gratitude journaling when I wake up in the mornings. I’ve also reached out to a therapist who has helped me with my healing journey, and I’ve learned to start recognizing when my body is feeling hungry or tired. All of these coping mechanisms combined have helped me become healthier and more positive when dealing with severe depressive episodes and my day-to-day life.
It’s hard. It’s so damn hard. But if you’re not actively working towards healing yourself every single day, it’s going to be that much harder. It’s okay to have bad days and it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to feel like giving up after that one bad day or mistake and forgetting all the progress you’ve made. Sometimes it’s easier to wallow in feelings we’ve gotten used to without realizing the harm we’re inflicting upon ourselves in the process. That’s why healing may seem like an arduous task. With this beautiful journey however, comes a sense of self-connection, growth and a better understanding of your mind and its needs, opening up a whole new world of self-love and appreciation.
I know you’re not doing okay by any means, but I just wanted to let you know that I love you. I know that I don’t say it nearly enough, if ever, even when I know it’s what you need from me. But I just can’t give you what you need. I can’t pretend to love you when all I do is tear you down. I can’t say that I care about the way you feel when all I do is invalidate your every feeling. I can’t act like you matter to me when the only thing on my mind is how much better everyone around you is. I can’t treat you with the kindness you deserve, because I just don’t believe that you deserve it. No matter how hard I try, no matter how much effort I put into loving and healing you, I just cannot accept you. And at the end of each night when I put you to rest, deep down in my tired soul I know that the problem is not you. It can’t be you. I made you this way, I broke your spirit.
It’s not just that I hate you — I also don’t believe you deserve happiness. I snatch it away from you at every turn. Because you’re not allowed to be happy. Not when there’s so much work to be done, not when the world around you is burning to a crisp. You have it easy. There are so many people I know and even those I don’t that would kill to be in your shoes! I can’t believe how ungrateful you’re being. Why are you complaining? Now you’re crying? Only the weak cry, when they’re not strong enough to suffer through the hardships of life in silence. Pathetic. Your achievements are mediocre at best and there’s so many people that are more successful than you could ever dream of being. Everything you’ve “won” or “done” has been passed down to you out of pity or because you’re a diversity token. You’re literally nothing. Everyone you went to highschool with is doing so well for themselves and reaching new heights in their lives. And none of them are depressed. What even is that lame-ass excuse anyway? Oh, you feel yourself slipping again? Pull it together, woman! I will not deal with days of unbrushed teeth and unshowered hair again. You are not going to sleep away your life to try to escape me. You don’t deserve rest. You don’t even deserve to be rewarded because nothing you do is impressive. This is why you’re such a failure. Here we go with the crying again. I can’t even begin to describe how miserable you are. God, you’re always finding ways to make everything worse for yourself, stupid b*tch. And now you’re wasting all your money buying useless sh*t online to try to heal your inner child. F*ck your inner child or whatever the hell you wanna call it. You’re just a financially irresponsible, no-good wh*re. I can’t believe I have to deal with your stupid antics. Oh. My. God. Now you want to reach out to a f*cking therapist?? Are you insane?! You must be because sane people don’t act like this. You’re literally crazy. Why do you even need a therapist? Family trauma? So what, everyone has that. You want to break the cycle? You? Laughable. You’re feeling shame and guilt about your past? As you f*cking should. Those emotions are obviously there for a reason and you deserve to wallow in them. Your mental health is declining? People are literally dying. Just deal with it. You’re so worthless. What the hell is your problem? What is wrong with you? Why is there so much wrong with you?
I’m so sorry. For this constant barrage of hate I fire at you, no care for the open wounds I leave behind. Treating you as though you’re replaceable and ignoring your cries for help. I’m sorry for never cutting you any slack or allowing you the chance to learn and grow from your mistakes. I’m sorry for being your harshest critic and never taking pride in any of your achievements. I’m sorry that I make you feel so alone and force you to ruin the healthy relationships you have. I’m sorry for talking you out of so many great opportunities and new experiences because I led you to believe that you’re underqualified. I’m sorry that you’re always the last one on my mind. I’m sorry for causing you so much pain and anguish over the simplest things. But most of all, I’m sorry for never believing in you and constantly smashing your self-confidence to smithereens.
Maybe it stems from the over-competitiveness that was nurtured in me since childhood. Or maybe it’s a trauma response to the lack of emotional availability in my home. Maybe it’s because of my obsession with appearing perfect and put-together. Maybe it’s imposter syndrome. Or maybe it’s the way I’m always comparing myself to other people without fully understanding their struggles. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel like I deserve nice things in any capacity. Maybe it’s because I take it upon myself to pour all my empathy and compassion into friends and family until there’s nothing left for me. Or maybe it’s because continuing this cycle of self-harm and wallowing in my depression is so much easier than making an active effort to break away and heal from it. Maybe it’s all of the above. But whatever it may be, it is not okay.
You deserve to feel loved. You deserve to be reassured and reminded of your beauty on a daily basis, not just on the good days. You are worth the trouble of taking care of you. You deserve to treat yourself with kindness and respect. You deserve to live a full life of happiness and contentment. You deserve nice things. Rest. Rewards. Simply because you’re a human being. Not only when you accomplish a big feat or find yourself at the end of a hyperproductive day. You are not broken or worthless. You are healing. From things you had no control over and things you wish you could take back. And healing is a process. A journey that takes time. It’s a weaving, winding path with good days and bad.
Some days may feel darker than others. You’ll find that the only way to escape your insomnia post-cry-yourself-to-sleep-session is to aimlessly scroll through Instagram and Twitter. Then, as you’re constantly refreshing only to be met with the same posts from 10 minutes ago, you switch over to Snapchat and TikTok. And as you’re scrolling and comparing every aspect of yourself and your life to others in the dark, frittering the night away, you notice it’s 5:45 a.m. The feeling of emptiness and worthlessness slowly creeps in, then hits you like a ton of bricks. You put your phone away and close your eyes, only to be met with an agonizing three hours of interrupted sleep and nightmares that solidify how much you hate yourself. You wake up feeling nauseous, check your phone and decide to skip class today. It’s not like you bothered to do the required readings anyway. You did this to yourself. You’ll just add it to the long list of lectures you have to watch later on. Always finding a way to fall behind. You drift off to sleep again and wake up just in time to log into Zoom for your next class. Your eyes are struggling to stay open and you take two Advil as your ignored prescription bottles stare back at you. Just like your video, your notebook stays closed. It’s finally over and you slam your laptop shut, draw the blinds and fall asleep yet again. You wake up and the moon is shining through the cracks of your blinds. You can hear a pin drop in your apartment and you realize your roommate isn’t home. Getting up to use the bathroom, you catch a glimpse of your horrid disheveled reflection in the mirror and look away just as quickly. You cringe and run past the mirror on your way back out. You lock your bedroom door to avoid any conversation that may arise when your roommate gets back. You reach for your phone and scroll through notifications that will never be opened. Your stomach does the thing and you shut it up with some crackers and reach for your water bottle to wash it down. It’s empty. You’re on your phone again, but this time you’re dehydrated as you scroll through feeds. You skip a board meeting. And a general one for a club you really wanted to get involved in. It’s okay. You’ll just do those things tomorrow, next week, next month. When you’re feeling better, when you’re not this tired. It’s 10 p.m. now and your roommate is still out studying. You debate taking the five-minute trek to the gym before it closes. Better not. This is why you’re a fat b*tch. Zero discipline. You’re not tired enough to fall asleep yet so you grab your laptop as you crawl into bed and mindlessly search through Netflix originals. As the show starts, you grab your phone and realize there are no new posts to view on any of your social media. Obviously not, because instead of getting sh*t done you were lounging around all day, having “fun.” You reluctantly open your Notes app and stare at the week-old, 36-bullet-point to-do list with three things checked off. You scroll to the bottom and add to it all the things you didn’t do today. Yikes, what a bum. If you don’t get to all of them tomorrow, you might as well drop out. Anxious, you throw your phone across the room and stare at the next episode screen mocking you. You push your laptop away, and like clockwork, begin another insomnia-inducing cry session.
On good days, you’ll wake up before your alarm clock feeling slightly refreshed. You’ll check your phone and respond to all the messages. After opening the blinds to let in sunlight, you take your medication. You brush your teeth and enjoy the feel of your six-step skincare routine. The aroma of a freshly brewed cup of coffee has you excited to start the day, even though you despise the bitter taste. You sit at your desk, flipping through your journal whose dates are scattered by gaps; the last entry was four days ago. Lazy behavior. As you list the things you’re grateful for, affirmations you’re declaring and three small goals for the day, you feel good. Great, even. You finish up and make your bed. It looks so good. Playing some new songs you stole from your roommate’s playlist, since your music taste is trash, you begin to pick up the clothes littered across your bedroom floor. As you’re cleaning and vibing along to the music, you reach for your water bottle. It’s empty so you walk over to the kitchen to fill it up. You take a sip and your stomach starts growling. You toast a bagel and cut up some fruit, bringing them back to your desk to eat. You take a break from cleaning and turn to your comfort show, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” As you eat and laugh along to Will Smith and Uncle Phil, you start to feel happy. You don’t want this feeling to come to an end so you watch another episode. Then another. Pretty soon it’s time for class and you haven’t even finished cleaning yet. Nice going, now you’ll never get anything done today. So dumb. You contemplate skipping because you already messed up what started out as a productive day, but decide against it. As you’re walking to class, you repeat: It’s okay, I can just finish it up when I get home. I already have a good amount done, which is awesome. That means it’ll be a lot quicker and easier to get done. It’s like I split up the workload, but by accident. Genius. As you walk into your lecture hall, you take a seat all the way in the back row. No one sits by you. It’s because you’re a stupid, ugly loser. Nobody wants to be your friend. You’re never gonna make friends here. The lecture begins and you take out your laptop to take notes. You end up checking your email and doing some online shopping instead. What a waste of space, you were literally in the classroom and still couldn’t do what you were supposed to do. You make me want to throw up. As you’re getting ready to leave, you fight an inner battle about saying something to the girl rocking Jordans two seats down. What if she doesn’t hear you? What if she just ignores you on purpose because you look so lame compared to her? Just forget it. Walk out — who cares? Your words aren’t gonna do anything. Against your better judgement, you decide to compliment her and her face lights up. She thanks you and asks where you got your top from. It feels so nice. Great job. You should do that more often. On your way to study at the Union, you stop by Chatime to reward yourself. You’re doing great today. Walking in the warm sun, roasted milk tea, light ice in hand, you feel like you could fly. You check a few things off your to-do list, add “buy boba” and check that off too. Life is amazing. You’re amazing too… sometimes.
Please invest in your healing, through the good days and the bad. Understand that the feelings you’re going through are difficult and may be exhausting at times, but that’s okay. Acknowledge the fact that depressive episodes and harsh self criticisms have very real and negative consequences on your mind and lifestyle. The thought of reaching out for help is daunting and uncomfortable, but you’re not alone. And if you’re not making an active effort, no matter how small, to work on bettering yourself, you will slip into those old habits and fall victim to harmful cycles again. So buy yourself a gratitude journal to focus on the positive — they might be overused on TikTok, but they really work. Develop a morning routine that includes putting food in your mouth because you deserve to be nourished. Reach out to a therapist or mental health professional to talk about your struggles, pinpoint their root cause and implement healthy coping mechanisms into your life. Set small daily goals you’re sure you’ll be able to accomplish and affirm yourself once you can cross them off your to-do list. Do what brings your soul joy and connect with the world around you. Dance in the rain. Lie down in the grass as the sun caresses your face. Step out of your comfort zone. Join organizations you’re interested in and make new friends. Put yourself above all else. Because you should be your number one fan. Because you’re extraordinary. Because you deserve nice things. Rest and reward and kindness included. And you deserve to be loved — flaws, imperfections and all.
MiC Columnist Mariam Odeh can be reached at email@example.com.