I’ve always been known as the listener among my circle of friends, and I’ve always been the one who was closed off among my siblings. I’ve been considered the most timid person, and perhaps even the most secretive person in spite of my closeness to some people. However, it would perhaps be ironic if I was too secretive in spite of my knowledge in psychology of consciously suppressing parts of my life and being ashamed of them.
So here it goes.
If a stranger were to see me on an ordinary day, perhaps they’d think of me as a quiet person. If a classmate of mine were to see me during our graduate school classes, they would probably think of me as energetic and engaging. If my college friends saw me, perhaps they would think of me as someone silly.
But no one has ever seen me when I go to bed at night.
No one has seen me toss and turn and fall asleep, only to wake up two hours later. The cycle goes on and on until it comes to a point that I wake up extremely tired, and that I need more than just two cups of coffee to get by. No one has actually seen me when I get moody. No one has ever seen me clenching my fists to the point that they shake and tremble with the tremendous amount of effort it takes to swallow the anger and resentment towards myself. Even my boyfriend has never seen me when I crumble into nothing, and yet I can never fully reveal my deepest regrets and my best kept disappointments about myself. No one has seen me tear up papers in pieces as I control myself from screaming in frustration over all the efforts I exert to do something with my life. No one sees the envy and jealousy I harbor towards the people who display their success through photos and posts liked by hundreds.
No one has noticed how I’ve tried to keep the pieces together in the last seven years. At least, until February of this year. I’ve been urged to go to a therapist for more than a year by my boyfriend, and when I first went, things have been relatively well. I occasionally cried in between sessions and had been following the recommendations that had been given to me by my therapist at that time. But things had turned for the worse, and I was constantly haunted by the memories of failure and inadequacy that had plagued me in my dreams. I would plaster a smile on my face in front of everyone, and hide in bathrooms to cry. I soon went back to one of the most alarming behaviors in the field of Psychology.
I engaged in self-harm.
It started as a way to control my own emotions, because I was always told off by my parents as well as my friends for being too sensitive to everything. They told me I wouldn’t survive with the kind of personality that I had. So I kept everything bottled in, and let everything out through feeling physical pain, even if a small part of me had protested against this. Naturally, I was in college at that time so I did not even listen. All I wanted was to maintain something that was closest to a picture-perfect life. Soon enough, my boyfriend found out about this and had told me to tell my parents about it. I resisted strongly against it, knowing that they had always gotten mad at me when I showed the slightest hint of sadness and then scolded me for not being thankful for what they give me. Naturally, that didn’t help because I felt more guilty for being so upset at everything. I harmed myself even more, until I started experiencing suicidal thoughts every night. I would prefer not to elaborate on the details, but more or less, my therapist confronted me about my psychological evaluation.
I was clinically depressed.
Somewhere inside me, I knew that fact all along. However, I resisted every effort that people who knew what I was going through had exerted into trying to get me to tell my parents. However, my therapist gave me a choice of telling my parents myself, or having her tell them about what I was going through. I went for the former. I was increasingly nervous as I approached my father to tell him about it.
I was pleasantly surprised. He hugged me as soon as I started crying as I told him about every little thing that I doubted about people who wouldn’t accept me for who I was because of what I was going through. I told him that I did not intend for it to get this bad, but he only assured me that he and my mother would get the best doctors around to help me deal with this illness that had caused me so much pain.
Fast forward and I’ve been on antidepressants for four months. If you want me to be honest, trying to skip it has been difficult, and there’s so much triggers around because of what I expect of myself. If you want me to be honest, I still hate myself a lot. But if there’s anything I can glean of this, maybe I’ve gotten a little more open. No, I still find it difficult to tell my family or my friends or even my boyfriend about it (which has always been the reason for big fights). If you ask me, I think about how I fare in life compared to my other friends, or perhaps what I do not have compared to them. My therapist has referred me to a psychiatrist, who sees me every two weeks and tells me to go to the emergency room whenever I feel suicidal (which I honestly do not listen to).
But looking back, maybe I’ve learned to be a little more aware of my emotions even more. I may hate being sensitive, but maybe I’m (very) slowly learning how to manage them. I’ve become less aggressive and hostile when answering people while I’m under my very negative mood swings, and maybe I’ve learned not to give a damn on watching my every move in exercising (because for one, it causes me to become more depressed). In a sense, I’ve learned to sense when to talk to people, and perhaps understand them more.
As hard as things are right now, maybe coming clean helps me look up a little bit more.