Oh my Precious Child

I never really intended to turn this platform into a depression blog, but the response I’ve gotten so far has been surprisingly encouraging. I love hearing “Yeah, me too” because it takes the teeth out of this thing a little bit. Thank you, readers, for helping me feel less alone.

Brene Brown, who is who I want to be when I grow up, says “Shame drives two tapes. ‘Never good enough’… and ‘Who do you think you are?’” In that vein, my depression drives two tapes — “You are awful” and “You are unlovable.”

Like pretty much every woman with access to social media, there’s about a thousand things I’d change about my body if I could — shave off my freckles, erase my stretch marks, file my chin into a point rather than the blunt square it is, define my jawline sharp enough to wreck ships on, chisel my cheekbones higher, change the color of my eyes, fill in my hip dip, make my boobs bigger and my ass smaller, kill the gap in my teeth large enough to fit a quarter — and I spend hours neurotically pouring over the Instagrams of people I know in passing and wish so badly to be as effortlessly happy and beautiful as them (my therapist has lots of words to say about Instagram). This voice I can usually roll my eyes at because I am, objectively, naturally pretty. I know that’s vapid and problematic, but I take after my dad’s side of the family who are the kind of naturally thin white athletes you see in yogurt and Advil commercials (except for that one uncle who subsists exclusively on nacho cheese and diet soda). Modern, western beauty standards aren’t a good system, but it’s a system I benefit from.

The voice I have spent 26 years of my life listening to, and I cannot seem to shut up, is the voice that hates my guts. I don’t even know that I can give an example of the litany of things it berates me with because it’s as natural to my existence as breathing, but it is the voice that constantly examines the behavior of other people and tells me it is a reflection of my worth. A short comment from a coworker, a declined invitation from a friend, a passed over promotion, a weird look, an ignored text are all evidence pointing at the truth this voice champions — I am worthless, I am unwanted, I am unlovable. My frequent anxiety attacks, crying jags, hysterical text bursts, easily hurt feelings, and seemingly insatiable needs are all evidence, too, that I am garbage, I am trash, I am terrible. It is the voice that tells me that if I were better, if I could make people love me, then I would be valuable, wanted, and loved. So I perform, desperately. I twist myself into the shapes of who I think others want me to be, smaller versions of the pieces of me that actually exist. I am very smart and love to learn, and so I twisted myself into a good student to whom grades were the standard I judged everyone and everything by. I am a clever problem solver, and so I became everyone’s problem solver whether they wanted me to or not. I am the oldest and naturally maternal, and so I turned off all my needs and catered to the needs of others the way my mother and her mother before her and every other woman has been taught to do. Need nothing, earn the love of others, prove the voice wrong. And fail. Because it is a system designed by my depression to be failed.

I fall into this trap incredibly easily. Like I said, it’s as natural as breathing. But breathing can be changed — slower, calmer, deep breath in, deep breath out, feel your ribs expand like fingers holding you close and safe, feel them flex back in like an embrace. So I will change this breath-thought, this living-wounding, this self hate that I breathe like poison. I will listen to the voice that tells me I am a precious child, I will give it the microphone to play louder and stronger and happier and healthier over the doxology of the depression. I will defy this system, I will breathe in love, perform magic alchemy in my chest, and breathe it out even greater. I will be full of myself like a cup of wine, over flowing and catching the sun, quenching my own thirst faster than it can grow.

I have laughing eyes, eyes that have flecks of my father’s green on a canvas of my mother’s brown, laced with gold that catches the sun and through them you will always know what I am thinking. I have no secrets because I know who I am, broken bits held together with gold like they do in Japan. I have a high, excited voice that speaks quickly and eloquently, that cuts through crowds and bullshit like a machete in a jungle. I have a bright mind, bright like a diamond with as many facets, bright like a parrot flicking through the air with a thousand colors, bright like the sun that gives life, bright like fire that burns, bright like an ocean wave in paradise, bright like snow on the mountain tops. I have a warm heart with space for everyone, including myself, a heart like a hearth fire to claim sanctuary next to. I have a terrible, wonderful will, the stubbornness to move mountains, the tenacity to never give up, to pour over problems from every angle until they relent in the wash of my persistence. I have elegant, delicate hands that make and create and soothe and hold, hands inherited from my father’s genetics and taught by my mother’s example, long and fast in their work. I have so many gifts, and it is high time I shared them with myself. But I am more than the things I have, I am greater than the sum of my parts. I am as much divine as I am dirt, the air in my lungs is magic, the salt in my blood is blessing just by virtue of existing. It isn’t earned, it’s a gift. It is a gift. I am a gift. I am wonderful. I am lovable.

Take that, depression.