Disclaimer: You know I have depression. I talk about it a lot. But I’ve never posted on a “down” day. Just when I’m feeling “up” enough to feel like I can be encouraging to someone else. This is not an “up” post. This is a peek inside my chemically-deficient brain and this stream of consciousness is not pretty. I don’t blame you if you don’t read it or if you don’t make it all the way through. I know that probably about half of what I’ve written (especially towards the end) is lies. I know that. Depression is lies and not being able to not believe them. I’m going to not believe them someday. Hopefully someday I’ll look back at this post and be like “Wow, that was bad. So glad I’m not there anymore.” I’m just not there yet. I’ll intersperse pictures of me when I was cute, maybe that will help.
Today is my birthday. I really wish it wasn’t. That isn’t me being suicidal, I’m not going to kill myself today. I just wish my birthday was in like, three months, when the happy pills have kicked in and I feel like I might enjoy it better. My birthday was always a special day and it’s just not going to be that way this year.
I’ve always loved my birthday. I love the date: 8/8/86. I was always a little sad that I wasn’t born in 1988, like my sister, because then the numbers would have been so perfect. All 8s. It’s ok though, I’ve gotten over it. I think the reason I loved my birthday so much was that because I’m from a big family (which I love, don’t get me wrong) we were really only celebrated on our birthdays. Presents were never really a thing – that was at Christmas time, when we go slightly present-crazy. But on birthdays we got to pick our favorite meal, tell Mom what we wanted on our cake. We’d have grandpas and grandmas and aunts and uncles over. It was special. It was my day. I only got one a year where I felt that special and super-loved.
In recent years birthdays have gotten harder. The decade of singleness was hard, but I was only in my 20s, so while I may have been mopey a bit because I was still single, birthdays overall were pretty good, still special. We’d go to Minneapolis almost every year sometime around my birthday. Go to Ikea, because I loved Ikea, and the Mall of America. I know, there’s so much more to do in Minneapolis than Ikea and the MoA. We were fine just skimming the surface though. Yes, we did take my nephew to Como Park one year. That was fun, but I came down with a bad cold that day.
I always had high expectations for my birthday. Expectations are bad (Lie). My birthday almost never lived up to my expectations. I remember one birthday during the single decade where we got hit with a pretty severe storm right during my birthday meal. Dad didn’t think it was anything to worry about. “Let’s cut the cake!” he said. “Let’s go down to the cellar and not die!” I said.
Turning 30 was hard. But someone in my family had it worse than me that birthday, so we focused on getting them through that tough time. My birthday last year was amazing! I was with my beloved family, and I was beloved by a guy who wrote things like this about me:
Then we went to Minneapolis with my sister and her family and I introduced him to Ikea, which he loved just as much if not more than I did.
We’re not going to Minneapolis this year. My annual Ikea catalog came in the mail a few weeks ago. I can’t look at it. They say take your significant other to Ikea to see if your relationship is strong enough to survive it. We had our first major in-person fight as we were leaving Ikea the first time we went in Indiana. It was a good fight. All our fights (except the last one, which I just had to win) were good. We resolved that Ikea fight very well, I thought. Someday I might love Ikea enough to go there again, but not this birthday.
Disclaimer: This is where it really starts to go downhill and more stream-of-consciousness style. You’ve been warned.
I feel like this is the birthday when I need to grow up. Grow up, get a real job, let go of the silly dreams and ideals that have consumed and guided my life thus far. If I’m not so down that I can’t get out of bed today (which I’m really hoping I’m not – yes, I’m writing this a few days in advance) I’ll go to work. Most of my family has other plans in the evening, so there won’t be a birthday dinner. I feel like this is my first “adult” birthday – nothing special, not really being celebrated, just another day.
I know that I pushed and rushed Trent more than I should have about getting married. Mostly because I wanted to get married before I turned 32. That turned out well. Not. My mom got married when she was 30 and had her first child when she was 32, I had hoped to at least be married by one of those milestone standards. I know, people older than me get married and have babies all the time, and if I hear that one more time I think I’m going to scream. That. Doesn’t. Help! That’s them, not me. Good for them. Still sucks to be me. I feel like every birthday I have, I have to let go of another child I dreamed of and longed for and named.
So here I am: 32, single. Rejected by every man brave enough to show an interest in me (there have been two and a half. The half was actually a real man, but he decided after one day that he did not want to date me anymore, so he just gets a half count). My birthday was always when I felt the most loved, the most wanted, the most cherished just for who I was. I always felt like every other day of the year I had to work for people’s love and approval, but my birthday was when I was loved and celebrated for just existing, just being me. Being loved is a basic human need and I know that people love me (Truth!) and will love me no matter what I do. But nobody really wants me (Lie! See if you can spot the truths and lies mixed up in the rest of this). Just me. Me when I can’t do anything for them. “Anessa, God wants you, just you.” Yeah? Then why doesn’t He want me to join Him in heaven sooner? No, He still wants me to do something here. Even God doesn’t want me just for me, but for what I can do for Him. Then it just spirals down into “what’s wrong with me that nobody wants me?” “You think like that, that’s why, idiot.”
Depression is like a bully, beating on a dirty, bruised, snot-and-tear-streaked little kid cowering in a corner. That little kid is me (and the snot-and-tear streaks are a real thing a lot of the time). Feebly trying to push away the cruel and hurtful words that I know are lies, but words can cut and wound, even when they’re just heard in my head. “Well, stop believing the lies!” “Pray harder!” “Just think positive!” “Choose joy!” Don’t you think I wish it were that easy? Do you think I want to be like this? Trent asked in our last fight “Do you like to be unhappy and resentful?” No. No I don’t. But I don’t have the chemicals that my brain needs to be happy and whatever the opposite of resentful is.
I’m going to get better. I know I am. Maybe then, I will find someone who will want me, as long as I stay “up.” Because you hear the message everywhere “stay away from negative people, they will only bring you down.” They’re right. I will bring you down. I know it’s hard to be around me. I’m sorry. I’ll try to do better. I know it’s easier to love me when I’m happy. And I do desperately want to be loved. Maybe that’s my problem. Maybe I want to be loved too much. Maybe I want to be loved more than I want God. That’s my problem. I don’t want God enough. I want a husband and kids more than I want God. So I’ll try very hard not to want them so much. “I’m sorry God, please take away that desire in me, fill me with a desire only for You. I know You should be enough for me, I’m sorry that I don’t think You are. I know You love me, and I’m sorry it doesn’t feel like Your love is enough for me. I want You to be enough God. I really do.”
Do you have any idea how many times I prayed that during the single decade? In the past month?
Maybe I wasn’t sincere enough.
“Just remind yourself of truth, Anessa.” Ok, that helps. Slightly. Ok, just because Trent didn’t want me doesn’t mean that no man will ever want me. But I don’t want any other man. I know Trent isn’t perfect but I love him, I want him. I still want to love Trent. “Yeah, you did a great job of loving him when you were together, didn’t you?” I know, I messed up very badly in the loving Trent department. “Oh for the love of Pete will you get over him already? EVERYBODY is tired of hearing about Trent!” Hey! We were ENGAGED. He gave me a beautiful card listing some of the reasons why he wanted to marry me and just some of the reasons filled a whole page! He chose me. He wanted me. But then he changed his mind. My mentor says that it wasn’t entirely my fault. He has free will, he could do what he wanted and what he thought was best. I don’t blame Trent. I mean, honestly, who could love this? Nobody, that’s who. I don’t want to be around me when I’m like this. My family has to put up with me because they were unfortunate enough to have me be born to them. I’m sorry.
So yeah, that is what is in the pit of despair, a.k.a. my brain. It used to be worse. Did you notice how I kind of refuted some lies in the last paragraph and there was something resembling logic there? That wouldn’t have happened 2-3 weeks ago. Now I can recognize what is truth and what are lies, Praise God! I cannot wait for the happy pills to start working so that one day I can not have to fight my own brain so hard.
I was talking to my mentor about my trepidation about my birthday. She suggested that I actually write it out and publish this post. She said part of the problem in our world is that we have our “real” self and we have our “online” self. This crazy, rambling, “um…wow” post is what my depression looks like in words This is my “real” self (right now, on a down day. I’m working hard and getting help to get better). She told me that if my goal in writing about depression is to help someone, then I need to be real and transparent, and sometimes real isn’t very nice or pretty.
I think the pictures backfired. They just make me sadder. That beautiful, happy little girl. What has happened to you, you precious, hopeful, bright little girl? Where did you go? Please come back.
In the meantime, this is this year’s birthday theme song, from one of my top five most favorite movies ever: