Some people think they’re “all that.” For most of my adult life, I’ve had to fight against a troubling automatic thought: that I’m “all not.”
A major part of my depression finds me constantly discounting my strengths and highlighting my weaknesses. People can compliment my writing skills or praise my intelligence, but when I’m at my lowest their words mean nothing to me. I’m slowly starting to see the bigger picture, though, especially when I meet other folks struggling with mental illness.
There are people in my community who share my diagnosis but not my smarts. I wonder how much harder their lives are, and I question my tendency to privilege what I can’t do over what I can.
It’s like I own this big house with a long driveway and beautiful garden in front, but I refuse to come inside for warmth and comfort. Instead of curling up in bed, I’m sleeping in a shoddy tent in the backyard every night. The front door has a giant padlock I didn’t put there. Sometimes I have the key but often I misplace it. I never think to try the open back door. The tent just seems safer; I crawl inside to avoid dealing with the lock even though I know there’s another way.
My depression cuts me off from some opportunities but not all. I still have this incredible house filled with books and music, poems and essays, words and ideas. Now it’s time to make my way indoors, to remove myself from the confines of my lonely tent. It’s time to share my gifts.