My parents see me as their son that is smart, helpful, loving and successful. My brother sees me as his older brother that can fix many things that he is not able to. My extended family sees me as someone that is intelligent, funny, creative, and a loving member of the family. As I look in the mirror, I see someone that has so many short comings that I don’t understand how they could possibly love me and why I have not ended my life yet.
This has been a struggle for me in my life longer than I have had depression and I have battled with depression for 20+ years. When I look in the mirror, as a child, I see myself for who I am. Someone that has a God given talent, is loved by everyone, beautiful, and can conquer the world. Unfortunately for me, this quickly eroded away and was replaced with lies.
These are not my lies but the lies of others. The lies they tell me are like:
- I am too short
- I am not beautiful
- I am not smart
or any other negative comment that tears away at my ‘true self’. Then there are the lies that they say to me that are non-verbal like when I don’t ‘fit in’ cause I dress, talk, or act differently. These are just the lies that I have become accustomed to. There are many other ones out there that a lot of other people have had to deal with. Each one of these lies starts to seep into our mind.
As I get ready the next day and look in the mirror, I see myself how they tell me to. All of the negative comments and body language they spoke to me are drowning out the truth in my head. As each day passes, their voices become stronger. So strong, that they have overtaken my head and have become the new ‘truth’. This has now begun to fuel the depression that was once only a tiny seed. Have you ever seen a house that seemed to be overtaken by a ‘vine-type’ plant?
That is exactly how I would describe the inside of my head. My mind is the house and the depression is the vine. The vine was slowly suffocating every ounce of ‘me’ and causing me tremendous pain. So much pain, that I have contemplated suicide many times in my life. It was rough as a child and it has been a real struggle that I carried into my adult life. Luckily, I now have my family that is understanding and supportive.
How did this all start again?
By people telling me that my value in life is zilch because: I am not tall, I don’t dress in trendy clothes, I don’t do my hair in the trendy style, I am not a popular player on a sports team, I don’t do anything like the ‘cool’ kids, and the list goes on. They don’t realize that this all turns into a poison that slowly starts to kill that person from the inside, like it did for me. I understand that I might be ‘one of the fortunate ones’ because I didn’t go through with any of the suicidal thoughts but this is a serious issue and it affects a lot more people than you could possibly know.
First impressions are very important, to society, in the world today. Don’t believe me? Watch the TV for just 10 mins and you will see commercials for products that are supposed to help us ‘look’ better. How can we look better when we are already perfect just the way we are? The next time you encounter someone, whether it’s the first time or the thousandth time, look at them like you are looking in the mirror. How do you want to be greeted? How would you like to be treated? How awesome would it be to hear something positive said about you?
By the way, I still fight with the enemy in the mirror every day.
Thomas Ives is a writer and mental health advocate. Find more of his work on Bestowing Fire.
Image Credit: “body tumblr” by Beth Scupham.