I don’t look sick. Most of the time, I don’t act sick, either. I’m employed, I have a roof over my head, I have a family and friends that support me. I’ve never been hospitalized, or put in an outpatient program. Medicine works for me– I don’t have to submit to terrifying, invasive treatments just to feel like a functional human being.
It’s just that some days…
…I don’t want to get out of bed before noon.
…I don’t really feel like associating with anyone.
…I can’t really gather the mental energy to smile, to laugh.
…I can’t stand to look at myself in a mirror and avoid showering so I don’t have to touch myself.
…I forget to eat, partially because I’m too numb to feel hungry until I feel faint, and partially because eating is a social activity for the vast majority of the human population and I don’t really feel like talking with anyone.
…my goals feel– not unreachable, but irrelevant, my future happiness a waste of time, and a soft-spoken, well-worn track in my brain is playing, reminding me that I don’t matter anyway, nothing matters anyway… and simultaneously, an equally well-worn track reminds me that I’m disgusting, dirty, tainted, ugly, barely worth calling a human being, a trash person, a nothing.
It’s just that some days the only way to focus and move forward after doing something less than perfectly is to drag fingernails bitten ragged down the inside of my forearm or the back of my neck, to take a quick step somewhere private and slap myself (and yes, it can be done).
I truly have difficulty describing myself as a person worthy of being loved. I think about methods of suicide like someone might think about what they want for dinner– I’m no longer in a place where I would ever actually try to kill myself, but it’s a path I’ve walked before.
At the same time, I am a beloved child of God. The fact of my existence is proof of being loved and worthy of love. As a Christian person, as a Catholic, I believe– I have to believe– that because of my baptism in Christ there is no more reason to fear death or privation, that everything that causes me suffering will pass away in time. That one day my faulty brain chemistry will be righted, that one day the experiences that have shaped my constant feeling of being judged wanting will be a distant memory without power to harm. When paranoia strikes, I often feel like, well, if my friends and family knew what I was really like… but there is nothing I can do, say, or think that will stop my God from loving me unconditionally.
Joy is not happiness. Depression takes away my ability to feel happiness, sometimes– my literal, chemical capacity to perceive something or someone as pleasurable. But I am part of one Body, I belong– I celebrate that whenever I go to Mass. I remember that when I contemplate the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.
Or at least, I try. I have to keep trying.
It’s just that some days, that’s all I have going for me.
Rejoice in the Lord always– I will say it again, rejoice! –Philippians 4:4 (NIV)