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Are You Okay?

by Melissa Steussy about a month ago in depression

You seem really depressed.

Are You Okay?
Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

We would never say that, would we?

I mean, no one has ever said it to me.

Maybe as depressed people, we keep our persona up of being okay when we are around others. We try to mask the void we feel in our hearts and minds. We try to get dressed and show up, we try to smile meekly even though we feel dead inside.

The Holidays for me seem to accentuate this sadness. I feel all the loss combined and multiplied thrashing its way back into my heart and mind.

I’ve started to say what I feel instead of shoving it down. I have started to have more awareness of the truth of emotions and with awareness (less disassociating and denial) comes pain. The reality of our situations can be brutal (or brutiful as Glennon Doyle would say). She would also say that broken is beautiful. It truly doesn’t feel that way when we are swimming through tar upstream, but I get what she means.

We need to fall to rise back up. We need to hit the wall in order to start fresh. Otherwise, we go through life half living.

We need to sink to rise again, so to speak.

So, am I saying that our weakness is our strength? It sure doesn’t feel that way, but I believe surrender is part of the plan.

I was out on a walk this morning to clear my head. I am rethinking my life especially around traditions that we carry on without thinking if they work for us or not. I am fantasizing about a life outside of my own.

I was walking across a bridge and at the other end was a woman with a big dog. It was a small bridge so they were waiting at the end for me to cross.

In the last few years, I have become more and more afraid of dogs. I have never owned a dog nor been bit by one (yet) but my fear is great. Oftentimes upon seeing a large dog on my path with its owner I will cross to the other side of the street. It’s something I can’t talk myself out of. My heart starts racing and I feel frozen.

Today, while halfway over the bridge I couldn’t really turn around or avert the dog, but I did say, “I am sure your dog is very sweet, but I am very afraid of dogs, do you mind holding it tight as I walk by.”

I felt vulnerable and weak. Who the heck is afraid of dogs?

But I am owning my feelings, my emotions, my inferiorities. If I see them and acknowledge them I can knock the power out of them running my life. This is my hope anyway.

If I speak up about my insecurities, my fears, my anxiousness, my depression, others will feel the permission to do the same.

It’s the sugar-coated fakeness I feel from others that I can no longer take or accept.

It’s real or nothing.

I wrote this poem recently while in an extremely dark place. The most wonderful time of the year doesn’t seem to be holding its side of the deal. It is truly the most dreadful time of the year for me. It seems to accentuate all of the loss, all of the pain, all of the injustice. It feels plastic and fake. It feels like we are being duped by a society of soldiers marching to the beat of the same drum, but no one knows where they are headed. It feels less meaningful to me year after year, but everyone keeps going on and so I feel like I need to as well. But no more. This will be my last time surrendering to what “we should do” because it seems everyone else is. I don’t have a good feeling about the holidays, but I’ve been too afraid to go against the grain.

Here is the poem:

I Can’t Shake the Sadness

I can’t shake it.

Did I do something wrong?

Is there an enemy of my soul?

That makes me feel not good enough?

Like a big dummy?

Like I know nothing?

Like I’ll always make a mistake, say the wrong thing, be laughed at and ridiculed.

Quit sharing on social media, nobody cares, it’s a cry for help.

Quit trying to be perfect and have the right things, no one cares.

You’ve been left behind, can’t you see?

They will all go on without you.

It is darkest before the dawn they say, don’t give up, they say.

Wait until the miracle happens.

What miracle? The miracle of goodbye?

Then will we show our love and will we say I miss you so much? Will we bury our heads in our hands and shout, “Nooooo!”

Will they grieve every Christmas when I’m no longer around? Will they laugh at the funny things I used to do before the ridiculing got old?

We didn’t know she was that depressed, they will say. She should have asked for help!

That is so sad, so tragic. (12/25)

Depression is real. Avoiding through drinking and eating too much, even spending too much is real too.

I no longer want to hide and avoid. I have done an about-face and am turned around facing the enemies of my soul. The voice that tells me I will never amount to anything. The voices that tell me my losses should stick with me at the forefront of my mind. The inferiorities that size me up and show me I’m no match for this life of comparison.

Here’s the deal, I hate your optimism. I hate how cheery and fake it seems. Let’s go suck on some lollipops and skip across the candy cane bridge. Let’s avoid our reality at all costs.

Excuse my pessimism, but I hate how everyone celebrates this one week of the year and then falls back into their misery.

I hate how we have to put on plastic smiles and say, “thank you, I love it.” When it’s a lie.

I hate how everyone talks about the family members that aren’t present behind their backs and how everyone knows things about certain family members, but no one talks about it. I hate the Elephant in the room and all of the debris brushed under the rug.

The grieving feels like too much and the forced giving feels like too much as well.

I may be divided on this one and that’s okay.

I am ready to start a new tradition and as Tabitha Brown says, “that’s my business.”

For all of you that truly feel this is the most wonderful time of year, disregard my message. I just can’t wrap my head around it. Not this year, not last year, and not the years before that where my expectations way exceeded the reality.

It’s a huge letdown for me.

I think every year, what a huge fucking letdown.

All the hype and then we throw it all in a box for the next year.

I’d much rather be in the Bahamas.

But would I bring my Grinchy self there, too?

Time will tell.

No more fake.

Only real.

No more plastic grins for social media.

I surrender.


Melissa Steussy

Author of Let Your Privates Breathe-Breaking the Cycle of Addiction and Family Dysfunction. Available at The Black Hat Press:

Read next: The Monster Within

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