The Spiraling Cycle of Depression & Loneliness

Much like the classic question of whether the chicken or the egg came first, it is equally as hard to determine whether depression or loneliness comes first.

Does depression come first, causing a person to isolate, contributing to their own increased loneliness?

Or was the loneliness there first, causing worsening depression because you feel alone, like you have nobody there who cares, nobody who understands?

Often the two go hand in hand, causing a vicious cycle that spirals down, magnifying the impact of both.

In the beginning of the downward spiral, you don’t want to bother or inconvenience anyone with your problems.  The depression is there, but it feels like more of a trivial nuisance in your life than a bonafide issue.  You minimize your struggles because you don’t want to appear weak or helpless.  Your depression fools you into believing that you’re doing others a favor by not bothering them, that they have other, more important things to worry about than you.  You feel like you should be able to handle everything on your own so you begin to pull away, to isolate, and to justify those actions because you don’t want to trouble anyone else.

You feel disconnected and lonely, like you’re completely on your own.

And, over time, your depression continues to worsen, unchecked.

You close doors, put up walls and stop communicating.  It is not long until you’ve distanced yourself for so long that you feel you’re no longer entitled to reach out to those you have pushed away.  You feel guilty for being a bad friend.  You rationalize that it has been so long since you’ve spoken to everyone that to contact them now, just because you’re struggling more, would be wrong.  Even the thought of reaching out to anyone else feels awkward.  You feel like you’re being unreasonably needy for even wanting or wishing someone was there.

By this point, the depression has bled into every aspect of your life.  Everything feels utterly hopeless.  You feel completely lost, isolated and alone, like no one else could possibly understand.  Your depression convinces you of the fact that you are inherently broken in some strange and unique way that nobody else could ever understand.  You are struggling to function, struggling to even pull yourself out of bed.

You have not only pushed away everyone who was close to you, but you have also started to avoid everyone and everything else, as well.  You have stopped doing many of the things that once brought you joy because you feel you don’t deserve to be happy.  You don’t want anyone else to see the mess you’ve become.  You shut yourself off from the world, telling yourself the world is a better place without you in it, mucking it up.

And you have nobody to turn to, no one to talk with, nobody to lean on or confide in.

You’re completely alone.

The farther into the depths you spiral, the worse the loneliness and the worse the depression.  It isn’t a cycle that just loops endlessly in circles.  Instead it is a downward spiral that feeds off each other, making each worse in turn, dragging you further and further into the darkness.

Ironically, at the bottom of the spiral, you feel betrayed and abandoned.  Despite the fact that you intentionally isolated yourself and pushed everyone else away, your depression lies to you, telling you that if others truly cared, they would have seen all the signs, that they would have been there all along.  Your depression deceives you into believing that they would have fought harder to be there, refused to be pushed away.  It convinces you that nobody truly cares, that you are completely alone now and could not turn to anyone else even if you wanted to do so.  Your depression projects onto them the ability to read minds and to see everything you have hidden from them all along.  In the depth of depression, the irrational seems completely rational.

I have been there myself more than once.

Every time my depression begins to worsen again and spiral downward, I find myself isolating more and more.

I pull away because I don’t want to bother anyone else with my issues.  I always feel like a massive burden to everyone in my life.  My family and friends have seen me struggling for years.  I figure they must be tired of it all, exhausted from it by now.  I tell myself they don’t deserve to be plagued by my problems any more than they already have been.  I tell myself I am sparing them from my drama, saving them from any more heartbreak from seeing my continued struggling.

I feel like a horrible friend, a horrible person for even wanting to have them there during my bad times.  I feel like they deserve better than me.

I tell myself that I am doing them a kindness by keeping them away.

I desperately yearn for someone to talk to, someone to lean on, to have someone who truly understands.

Yet I feel completely alone…

…Because I have chosen to make myself alone.

It isn’t that I’m alone.  I have an amazing fiance who loves me to death and is both caring and compassionate about my mental illness.  I have wonderful children that have grown into incredible adults who want to be there for me.  I have a loyal and understanding circle of friends that have stood by me over the years.  I have a supportive team of doctors and other professionals whose primary goal is to help me.

That is the reality.  I am not alone.

However, the reality is also that I have depression, a mental illness that often convinces me both that I am alone and that I am a nuisance to everyone else in my life.

I don’t want to be alone.

But I don’t want to trouble any of them with my struggles or be a burden, either.

It is a catch-22, spurred on by the lies that my depression tells me.

It takes a continuous, conscious effort to remind myself that I am not a burden to any of them, that they love me, care about me and truly want to be there for me and help me.  I have to remind myself regularly that I am not alone and that others do truly care.  Again and again, I find myself itching to pull away, wanting to distance myself and my problems from everyone else.  It is a constant struggle not to isolate myself for the perceived benefit of others.

I have to remind myself, as well, that I don’t have to carry everything on my shoulders alone.  Often, I have to push myself to reopen those doors, tear down those walls and let others back in.  It is admittedly very hard a lot of the time to lean on others, to bother them with my problems, to even ask for help when I need it.  Instinctively, I always feel like everyone else has enough on their own plates without adding my mess to the mix.  I always feel guilty for needing other people.  Whenever I start feeling that way, I have to remind myself that others are there because they want to be.

Deep down, I know I am not a burden.

I know I am not troubling or bothering anyone with my problems nor am I forcing anyone to be there against their will.

I know I don’t have to face my illness alone.

I know all these negative feelings are lies, though they feel completely legitimate and real to me at the time.

We feel completely and utterly alone because our depression lies to us, convincing us that loneliness is a reality when you have a mental illness.  We don’t have to be alone, though.  Don’t let your depression deceive you.  There are others that care, others that want to be there.

There are people you have pushed away who are yearning to be back in your life, people who truly care about you and your well-being.

There are also others out there who you may not even have met yet who would be willing to be there, who understand what you are going through and don’t want you to have to struggle alone.

There are doctors and therapists, as well, and support groups out there who are willing to help.

I honestly cannot tell you whether the spiral starts with depression or with loneliness, though the two often go hand in hand.  Together they form a symbiotic relationship that feasts on your mental health, starving you of your happiness and well-being.

I do know one thing, though.

You don’t have to be alone…

…So please don’t choose to be.

An Average Day Living with Depression and Anxiety

From time to time, I come across random memes that try to explain what it is like to live with both anxiety and depression.  Though everyone who has been there always nods in agreement because we understand the struggle behind those few words, unfortunately no meme could ever adequately explain what it is truly like to live with both.  Even simple, average days can feel unbearable and insurmountable.

Upon waking up today, I began jotting down random ways both my depression and anxiety presented itself throughout the day and how they interacted with each other.  This was just an ordinary day.  I did not expect anything monumental to occur.  I just wanted an honest portrayal of an average day living with both depression and anxiety.  Yet by the end of it, I am thoroughly exhausted.  Not because my day was particularly eventful but because the mental illnesses inside my head have left me yet again mentally and emotionally drained.

Anxiety is waking up far too early because the cat has dislodged the bedroom curtain, inviting the sun to shine in my face.  Anxiety is laying there as my mind begins to race, picking up where it left off the night before.  It is knowing there will be no more sleep today because I cannot shut my brain back off.  It is thinking of everything I should have done or still need to do, panicking over all that I might have forgotten and everything I know I won’t get to today.  Anxiety is my mind on an ever-playing loop reminding me of all that I’m doing incorrectly and all the ways my life could go wrong.  It is wanting to scream within my own head a hundred times a day “Oh God! Oh God! Make it stop!” even though I know full well that it will never stop.

Depression is laying there for hours after I wake, unable to move despite anything I might have to do that day.  Being hungry or having to go to the bathroom is irrelevant.  I’m not being lazy.  Though part of me knows I should get up, my depression has rendered me immobile.  I carry within myself a strange sort of apathy for the world again today though I’m not entirely sure where it came from.  Whenever one part of my mind attempts to prompt me into action, another louder part responds back, asking “What’s the point?”  That part of my brain reminds me that everything is hopeless, nothing will ever get better, that everything is a waste of time.  As much as I don’t want to listen, don’t want to believe, that voice is boomingly loud and self-assure.  It convinces me for hours that it is better to stay in bed than to start yet another day of misery.

Together, I have a combination of steady stress, apathy, hopelessness and despair.  I have one part of myself revving up, pushing for action, warning me of everything that could go wrong if I do not do something and another part refusing to budge at all because it cannot see the point.  Together, it is the combination of the panic of Chicken Little’s sky falling and that deer, frozen in the headlights the moment before it is plowed down by a tractor trailer.  It is a constant go go go and stay stay stay, a battle of opposites where I cannot help but feel the game is rigged and no matter what I do, I’m going to lose.  And all of that occurs before I even pull myself out of bed.

My depression and anxiety continue on throughout the day, sometimes sporadic, other times constant, wreaking even greater havoc whenever their paths cross.

Depression is barely eating for a couple days because I have no appetite or because I simply cannot see the point of wasting food on myself that someone else might enjoy more.  Anxiety is realizing I haven’t eaten much in days and worrying that I might be making myself sick and not wanting to saddle anyone else with taking care of me.  Together, I find myself going through bouts of not eating and then binging to make up for it.  Grazing on whatever is nearby, not because I want to eat or even that it is good for me or tastes good but because I know that I have to put something in my body.  I eat some soup straight out of the can without heating it up, because it is quick, close and convenient, telling myself that I’m making less dishes to wash, but in reality, I just don’t care.  Nothing tastes like it should anyway.  I’m just eating out of obligation so that nagging voice in my head will shut up.

Depression is wearing the same sweater for three days, making excuses that it is my favorite or most comfortable.  In reality, I have no plans to go anywhere.  Laundry is already piling up and wearing clothes longer means I can put off  washing clothes for yet another day.  My depression insists this is reasonable.  Anxiety is panicking and rushing to hand wash a spot out in the sink when I accidentally spill something on it.  One part of me is willing to wear that sweater until it is threadbare and worn, while the other cannot stand the thought of it being ruined or stained.  Though the two sides are so contrary that they make no sense together, somehow they both exist in my head.

Depression is having my laundry and dishes build up for days because I just don’t have the will or the energy to do them.  Anxiety is rushing to spot clean the apartment because someone is coming over even though I know there’s no way I could get it all done in time.  When combined, I find myself rushing to clean until the last possible moment, trying to tuck away, hide or set aside messes I don’t have time to deal with, breathlessly asking them to “please excuse the mess” as they come through the door.  That small amount of anxiety-fueled exertion to clean is enough to wear me out for days.

Depression is putting off showering for days because it’s not like I have done anything or that I am going anywhere to warrant it.  Anxiety is feeling like I have to do things such as pulling my hair back in a braid so that it doesn’t get tangled or unruly.  Between the two, I look more put together than I am, provided nobody comes too close.  I apply extra deodorant “just in case” and take an extra long shower when I finally do get in there, my anxiety trying to squeeze days of self-care into one tank-worth of hot water.

Depression is feeling completely alone sometimes, even if someone is right there with me.  It is simultaneously wanting to never let go of them and wishing they would just go away because I believe they would be better off without me.  Anxiety is wanting to talk to them, to tell them how bad things truly are, but being terrified it will scare them away, terrified I’ll somehow mess everything up.  Between the two, I find myself feeling lost and alone, afraid to speak up.  I’m afraid to let them in and afraid to let them go.  Even when they’re right next to me, I’m isolated and afraid.

Depression is sitting there for hours in a fog, unable to retain much of anything my mind has pulled in.  It is re-reading the same page or watching the same scene multiple times, before giving up because it all doesn’t really matter anyway.  There is a lack of enjoyment in everything.  Life feels stale and empty.  I go through the motions of living though it feels like a pale reflection of life.  Anxiety never shuts up, like a perpetual snooze alarm set to go off whenever my mind attempts to focus on anything else.  It is a constant distraction, constant reminder of everything I haven’t done, should have done, should be doing right now and should be doing later.  Between the two, I have constant distractions and a complete lack of interest.  It often feels virtually impossible to keep myself on track because my mind is all over the place and has no desire to cooperate.

Depression is putting off making phone calls for hours because I dread having to deal with other people on my low days.  When my depression is bad, any interaction is a struggle.  Anxiety is dwelling on those phone calls the entire time leading up to them and for hours afterwards.  It is having trouble verbalizing what I mean, reiterating some things repeatedly and forgetting others completely.  Between the two, I have scraps of paper filled with information that I keep with me whenever I make important calls because I’m afraid I might forget something important and I dread the possibility of having to call back again.

Depression regularly leaves me feeling physically worn out, tired and sluggish.  No matter how much I try to rest, I still feel drained.  Anxiety has me jumpy and jittery, my leg bouncing a mile a minute.  My body always feels revved up and over-wound, my mind won’t stop racing.  Between the two, I can never seem to get comfortable, never feel fully rested.  I cannot sleep well because my body never powers completely down.  Yet I cannot seem to harness that energy, either.  It is a nervous energy that serves no practical purpose beyond blocking me from even momentary peace.

Throughout the day, I am in a constant battle within my own mind.  It screams at me with the fierceness of a drill sergeant, nags at me with the persistence of an old world grandmother who believes they always know best.  Contradicting everything they throw at me and forcing myself into some semblance of functionality sometimes takes every ounce of willpower I have inside of myself.  I am fighting to do all I can, the best that I can, battling against my own mind to keep going though my depression urges me to throw in the towel and give up.  I know I will never accomplish everything my anxiety thrusts my way, but I have to keep encouraging myself that I have done something and that is good enough.  I cannot allow my depression to weigh me down or my anxiety to beat me up.

It has been an average, uneventful day.  I didn’t even manage to pull myself up out of bed until after ten in the morning.  It is barely ten at night and I feel exhausted.  It has been twelve hours, barely half a day.  Very little has been accomplished beyond a load of dishes, a handful of phone calls to schedule appointments, some basic self-care and one small glimpse of my mental illnesses, written down for all to see.  Yet I consider it a victory to have gotten through yet another day, managing to accomplish what I did.  I feel exhausted already and ready for bed.  It is not that the day was particularly eventful or busy.  It is the constant battle within my head and my body that has worn me out.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about living with depression and anxiety is that, even after sharing this, there will be some people who still don’t get it, who will insist it is just mind over matter.  They will suggest I just need to be more positive, just need to stay focused and try harder, to have more faith in God or to just stop making excuses.  Some people cannot seem to grasp that this is not anything I am intentionally doing to myself.  I would not wish this on my worst enemy if I had one.  I cannot wish away my diagnosis with happy thoughts, sheer willpower or positive mantras. The fact is that this is a medical condition that I struggle with every single day.   Some days are harder than others but even the simple days like today are not easy when I’m waging a constant war within my own mind.

A Long Overdue Letter to Myself

I have been struggling with mental illness my entire life.  Just recently, I began writing and speaking out about my struggles with depression, anxiety and ptsd, as well, shouting from the mountaintops to anyone who could hear, hoping not only to help others understand but to battle the stigma attached to mental illness, as well.  When I was approached by another author to write a segment for his upcoming book about depression and recovery, naturally, I jumped at the chance.

You see – when my world fell apart, I had two choices.  It was either sink or swim, live or die.  Though a large part of me wanted more than anything to surrender and have the pain stop, there was this little kernel inside of me screaming to never give up, never give in.  I mustered every ounce of strength I possessed and began to fight like I’ve never fought before.  I began to write about all I’ve been through.  I wrote like my life depended on it because in so many ways it did.  By pulling my demons out into the light and exposing them, I felt I was finally able to begin to heal.  I had found my voice.  Writing had become my passion, my life blood.

I published a book about my life.  I began blogging, as well, hoping to reach out to those struggling with depression themselves so they would know they were not alone.  I found myself writing to help others understand mental illness and to speak for those without a voice.  With each new piece I published, I hoped to start a dialogue and reduce the stigma.  While I found some healing in trying to help others through my writing, the focus had shifted off of myself.  I was no longer writing for myself; I was writing for a cause.

When a fellow author, James Withey, asked me to contribute something to his The Recovery Letters project*, a book set to be published next year, it was enormously huge for me.  He wanted me to write a letter to someone out there struggling and suffering, to let them know I understand; To give them encouragement and inspiration to hold on, be brave, be strong and continue to fight on.  The idea of such a letter struck a chord with me.  Everyone deserves something like that.  Unfortunately, though, what you deserve and what you get are sometimes entirely different things.  I could wait a lifetime and never receive such a letter from anyone else.  So I decided to write one to myself.

Today, I go full circle and return to where I first began, first found my voice.  I shift my focus inward and once again make myself a priority.  It is so much easier to reach out to others with encouragement than to face my own nightmares.  The truth, however, is that I must face my own demons if I have any hope of slaying them.  Once again, it is sink or swim time, live or die.  While it terrifies me to look inward, I am not ready to surrender quite yet.  I have too much living still to do.  I deserve to matter.  I deserve encouragement.  I deserve hope.  And so I write to myself:

Dear Beth,

I know you are scared.  You’ve been through so much in life and are so tired of fighting, of struggling and of hurting, but you have to be brave and hold on.  You’re so much stronger than you know.  You’ve come so far in life.  So many people have tried to break you, yet here you still are, still surviving, still holding on.

All your life, you’ve had people telling you that you were unwanted, unlovable, broken, damaged and a waste of space.  You’ve let other people define you and determine your worth.  You’ve bought into every cruel word they’ve spoken, believed every lie.  You need to stop listening to others and begin listening to yourself.  Listen with your heart.

All your life, you’ve faced abuse from others.  People have laid their hands on you in anger, treating you like a punching bag instead of a person.  Men and boys have touched you in ways a little girl should never be touched.  Their abuses have stolen your identity, broken your will until you felt more like an object for others to use and abuse than as a person.  You never deserved that.

Everyone you’ve allowed yourself to love has torn your heart out and stomped on it.  You’ve begun to believe that love and pain go hand in hand and that sooner or later, everyone leaves.  They’ve made you feel like you’re not enough so often that you’ve begun to believe it.  You internalize their actions, always blaming yourself for never measuring up.  Even when they’ve cheated, you believe somehow you’re at fault.  You’re not.  You never were.

You were taught young to put up walls.  Never let anyone see what hurts you because it makes it that much easier for them to hurt you next time.  Never let anyone in.  Never be vulnerable.  You are so terrified of letting yourself be hurt that you walk around numb, afraid to feel anything at all.

You’re so used to hurting inside that you’re not sure how to feel anything else.  Though you paint on a smile so others don’t worry, you’re always crying inside.  You’re not even sure what happiness is most days.  You’re afraid of letting it in because it’s always fleeting.  Happiness never seems to last.  You greet it with wary suspicion because you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Though others have abused you and broken your spirit more times than you can count, you’ve picked up where they left off.  You need to own that sweetie.  You’re harder on yourself than anyone else has ever been.  You’ve let them all convince you that you’re worthless so you treat yourself as such.  You beat yourself up for everything, regardless of whether or not it was even your fault.  While you’re able to accept the flaws and mistakes of others, you tear yourself down for every misstep and every defect.  You never give yourself any breaks.  You need to stop that.  You’re slowly killing bits of yourself every bit as much as all their abuses have.  Please be kind to yourself.

In so many ways, you’ve surrendered to your depression.  You’ve accepted that this is just how your life shall always be.  You’ve begun thinking of it as something familiar, akin to a friend.  Your depression is not your friend sweetie.  It is not there to comfort you or help you.  Your depression speaks in lies.  It wants to beat you, to break you, to tear you into little pieces, shattering you so badly you can never recover.  You need to stop being polite and welcoming it in.  You need to stop accepting it as your reality, your lot in life and fight it.  It only has power and control over you if you let it.

I know you’re terrified of life, of letting anyone else in and of being hurt again.  You’re scared to death that you’re not strong enough.  So many times you’ve cried out “no more! no mas!”, positive that you could not survive anymore heartache, sure than any more abuse would kill you.  It’s okay to be scared.  It’s okay to be vulnerable.  But never let your fear keep you from fighting.

Whenever you’re not feeling strong enough, you need to remind yourself of everything you’ve survived in life.  Keep reminding yourself of your strength.  You are a hurricane, a tornado, a force to be reckoned with.  You’ve been battling monsters and demons for over forty years now and you’re still going strong.  There is not anything you cannot overcome.

I know you’re scared, too, of putting your heart out there again and that is okay.  Love will come again in time.  Don’t give up on it.  Don’t let the actions of a few bad apples make you jaded or close off your heart.  Love is a beautiful thing and you deserve that in your life.  You deserve to be loved and cherished with as much fervor as you have always given everyone else.  Just make sure to learn from your mistakes next time.  Never again settle.

You need to let go of all those negative labels others have used to define you because none of them are even remotely true. You are fierce.  You are beautiful.  You are smart.  You are strong.  You are a warrior.  You are a survivor.  You are an incredible person Beth.  You have such a warm, loving heart – no matter how much other people have broken it, you always manage to reach out to help others.  You have so much to give to the world, Beth, and to yourself.  You are a blessing.

Stay strong.  Always keep fighting.  Never give up.  The world needs you in it.  Your children need you.  You need yourself.

With all the love you deserve in this world,


* The Recovery Letters is a labor of love created by James Withey.  Amongst other places, The Recovery Letters has been featured on the BBC World Service, BBC Radio 4’s ‘All in the mind’, the BBC News app, ITV’s ‘This Morning’ and Vanity Fair magazine.  He has a book contract with Jessica Kingsley Publishers to publish a book of current letters from the site alongside new letters. It will be published in the US and the UK in August 2017.



Republished on Bipolar Life on 9/26/16.

mightylogoRepublished on The Mighty on 10/13/16.


Republished via The Mighty on Help Minds Heal on 10/14/16.


Republished on SelfGrowth on 10/17/16.

Suicide Prevention Month Through the Eyes of Someone Who has been Suicidal

I feel I must begin by stating that I am not currently suicidal.  The constant bombardment of suicide chatter all month threatens to push me over the edge, though.

Please don’t get me wrong – I find it wonderful that the powers that be on social media have chosen a month to focus on suicide awareness.  There is so much stigma surrounding mental illness that anything that starts a dialogue is a blessing.  However, this month is extremely hard for me.  I have stood on that proverbial ledge and contemplated jumping.  This month is a steady reminder of how close I came to giving up.  Each new post or tweet renews those feelings, each time I speak up, I tear open old wounds.

When Suicide Awareness Month hits, I find myself confronted with the topic of suicide from all angles, inside and out.  Much like being surrounded by the sights and smells of delicious foods makes you hungry, the steady barrage of posts about suicide rubberbands my consciousness right back to that deep, dark place I struggle to avoid at all costs.  My mind is already inundated with thoughts of suicidal ideation, that little demon that tries to lure me in with abstract ideals.  That imp swears that death would be freeing, drifting away into peaceful nothingness away from all the pain.  I already struggle to push those thoughts away, choosing to continue my struggles rather than surrender to that beast.  Yet during September, I not only have to battle my own mind but external sources, as well.

I know I am in the unique situation to give an insight into suicide because I have attempted it myself.  I try to reach out and speak up when I am able because I understand how important it is to talk about, but it is draining beyond explanation.  Imagine taking your worst days, your biggest traumas, and rehashing them again and again for a month.  Imagine spending a month seeing those around you tweeting and retweeting about that pain, encouraging you to talk about it again and again.  My own mind already haunts me, tormenting me regularly with the traumas of my past.  On top of that, I am now bombarded with well-meaning people who want to discuss suicide. Many truly do not understand mental illness so they cannot comprehend how hard that conversation is for me to have once, let alone repeatedly over the course of the month.

I imagine things aren’t any easier for those who have lost someone to suicide.  Hearing the topic discussed for weeks must tear open the wounds and begin a month of steady mourning.  I see them, too, trying to speak up about their experiences and their loss.  Grieving is hard enough to do on your own terms without having to do it publicly again and again.  My heart always goes out to them.

I try to stay strong, to remain positive, to not let it eat at me, but that little demon already has ideation playing in my mind on a loop.  It doesn’t take much for suicidal thoughts themselves to start digging their way into my psyche, as well.  Each story shared by others is heart-wrenchingly relatable, each time I speak up, it’s beyond devastating.

As much as I want to get involved, to speak out and help others, I know my limits and cannot share as much as others may prefer or believe that I should.  I know the upcoming battles others face because I’ve fought them all before.  As much as I know this month is beneficial for so many, it is pure torture for me.  I spend the month feeling raw and glaringly alone.

Please be patient with the survivors of suicide, whether we kept living ourselves beyond our attempts or are people who have survived the loss of loved ones.  Talk to us and make sure we’re okay.  Keep us in your hearts, thoughts and prayers.  Speak up when we cannot.  This isn’t a battle just for the survivors of suicide.  It is important that everyone keeps living and keeps fighting so together we can make the world a better place.  Even one more life lost because someone feels worthless and alone is one life too many.

mightylogoRepublished on The Mighty on 9/11/16.

I’m Allowed to Say you Hurt Me..

I lost a friend recently and it tore my heart and soul in two.


I confess that after originally writing this blog, I deleted it.  I have since returned and gutted it, removing all details and leaving behind only vague sentiments because it kills me to think anything I’ve written about how I felt has hurt him.  I have since edited it multiple times, trying to find a balance between discussing my feelings and showing compassion towards someone who once meant a great deal to me.  The blog has, much like the friendship, been forever altered and lost along the way, a bare shell of what it once was.

I have bravely faced the traumas of my past, discussed rape and sexual abuse without flinching, written about the abuses I’ve endured through a wall of tears, all without backspacing or deleting a single word.  Yet somehow the thought of speaking a negative word about someone I once held so dear to my heart gave me pause and made me second guess myself and pull this blog from my site.

The truth of the matter was that, though I was hurting inside myself,  I feared hurting him and irreparably damaging our friendship more.  I’ve lost so much in life – I was terrified of losing him, too.  Despite how much his words and actions have hurt me, I still thought fondly of him and was overly protective, not wanting anyone to think poorly of him.  I still found myself wishing I could be there for him.  I wished things could be the way they used to be.  I missed having him in my life.

However the truth is that he hurt me terribly and damaged our friendship beyond repair.  I know I’ve done things that have hurt him, too, and for that I am truly sorry.  Unfortunately, though, some words once spoken cannot be taken back; Some actions cannot be undone.  I know it bothered him that I’ve written this about him, but I am allowed to say he hurt me.  I am allowed to say he has broken my heart.  And I am allowed to let go and walk away so that I can begin to heal and move on in life.

Please know that I wrote this not to hurt him but rather for my own healing because I can no longer hold my pain inside.  I wrote because my soul has been cracked and broken so thoroughly that holding this in would have shattered me.  I needed to let it out.   I also needed to pull away so I could process things and make sense of it all.  I need to heal.

Funny how I could live with my ex for eleven years, yet losing this friend left a bigger crater in my heart than my ex’s departure ever could.

The Loneliness of Depression

Anyone who has suffered from depression has endured the agonizing loneliness that goes along with it.  There are no easy solutions to these feelings because having someone there doesn’t wash away the emptiness we feel inside.  It isn’t simply a case of saying “I am lonely” because we desire having someone there at our side.  We feel utterly and despairingly alone in the world.

Much like body dysmorphia makes people feel like their physical flaws are glaringly worse than they really are, depression magnifies all of our negative feelings, exaggerating all of our faults.  Depression makes us feel like we’re broken and damaged beyond repair.  We know all our flaws because they stand out to us like beacons, reminding us of all that is inherently wrong about ourselves.  We are our own worst critics and are skilled at tearing ourselves apart.  We feel like a mistake, like there is no place in the world we belong.  We feel like nobody understands how we feel inside.  We feel completely alone.

Even when we’re with other people, we still feel alone.  No matter where we go or who we are with, we are forever wishing to disappear because we feel completely out of place.  We laugh uncomfortably and force ourselves to smile to reassure others that we are having fun, yet it always feels transparent and fake.  More often, we sit silently because we don’t want to bother anyone or make their life harder.  We’re so afraid of being judged or rejected that we can never truly be ourselves.  The entire time we’re out, we usually are second guessing our decision to go and wishing we were back home because we know we do not belong.

Though we feel alone even when you’re there, a minute after you leave, the loneliness is even worse.  Having someone there, whether for a few hours or a few days, magnifies our loneliness after you leave.  The silence and emptiness is glaring.  We use that time to beat ourselves up for not trying harder when you were there.  We wonder if you’ll come by again, though we understand if you did not.  We wouldn’t want ourselves as company so why would anyone else?

Friends and loved ones may say they’ll always be there but we have trouble believing it.  We have huge abandonment issues.  We’ve been hurt, abandoned, cheated on and lied to by virtually everyone we have ever let into our hearts and our lives so we have a hard time believing that you’re any different.   We’re forever waiting for the other shoe to drop because we know it’s only a matter of time before you’re gone, too.  Regardless of all the promises we’ve been given throughout the years, we always end up alone.

We often put up walls and isolate.  When people hurt us, we isolate because the pain overwhelms us.  When our lives are at their lowest, we isolate because we don’t want anyone to see us as that horrible mess we know that we are.  We isolate when others are having a good time, not out of jealousy but because we don’t know how to be happy ourselves and don’t want to ruin anyone else’s day.  We isolate to beat ourselves up for making mistakes, and because we feel people would be better off without us in their lives.  We pull away from everyone and hide by ourselves because we not only don’t feel we belong in this world, but that we honestly don’t deserve to be in it.

We do not want to be alone.  We do not enjoy feeling this way.  This loneliness eats at us minute after minute, day after day.  We reach out to friends and family, looking for things to do, wishing and praying someone will find the time for us.  We make excuses for people to come by and to stay extra when it’s time to leave.  Each rejection we get is an affirmation to us that we are unwanted, each cancellation reassures us that no one wants to be there.  When we don’t hear back from you, we feel forgotten.

We want so badly for someone not only to say they understand but to sincerely mean it.  We want someone who will show us patience, compassion and acceptance.  We want someone who will see us for the person we are underneath and not for the broken, damaged shell of a person we feel we are.  We want someone to wrap their arms around us and reassure us that we’re loved, we’re wanted and that we’ll be okay.  We want someone who will truly always be there and not just offer us lip service then go away.   We want to feel like there’s a place for us among our family, our friends and our loved ones.  We want to feel we belong in life.

When I talk about this deeply despairing loneliness, I speak in terms of “we” because these feelings are common for anyone suffering from depression.  We feel broken, insignificant, irrelevant, and out of place.  We feel unwanted, unloved, misunderstood and forgotten.  We walk around every day in a cloud of numbness and emptiness, feeling like we do not belong anywhere.  We want more than anything to not feel alone anymore.  Unfortunately, we’ve felt this way for so long that we don’t know how to feel anything else.

Republished on EmpowHER on 8/23/16.

mightylogoRepublished on The Mighty on 8/23/16.


Republished on Your Tango on 11/21/16.