Looking Myself in the Mirror

Like a huge slap in the face, I suddenly realized this morning that I haven’t actually looked at myself in the mirror in a really long time.

Yeah, I use the mirror for doing my hair and putting on makeup and whatnot, but those are very specific tasks requiring my focus to be zoned in on those areas to perform those tasks.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about depression. Not necessarily in a bad way, just sort of thinking about the concept of it. (I mean, it is mental health week right now too, but it started before that.) I may spend too much time on the internet watching videos and reading articles about other people’s struggles and just general information about depression, but its more of a learning, educational thing. Although, it may be a bit obsessive.

Even though I was in denial about my issues for so long, I always knew something wasn’t right. When I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) I didn’t know, at the time, what anxiety really was, but I knew, more or less, what depression was. Because of that, I had kind of expected a diagnosis of depression.

Even though my doctor at the time didn’t say I wasn’t depressed, I felt like because said I have anxiety and didn’t say I had depression, that that’s all it was. Just anxiety. No depression. Because he didn’t really give me a clear explanation of what an anxiety disorder was, I felt compelled to do my own research to figure out exactly what it is that he says is going on in my head because I totally didn’t get it.

I read that people with GAD tend to have “depressive episodes” even if they don’t have actual depression, meeting diagnostic criteria. So, I wrote off my depression as these “depressive episodes” and left it at that.

Even though I continued doing my own research, and read a lot about the relationship between anxiety disorders and depression, I intentionally – yet subconsciously – stayed away from anything directly talking about depression. I thought, it’s just anxiety, not depression. It explains everything. All these years that I thought I was depressed, I wasn’t.

It goes back to my fears of being told it was all in my head. I was making it up. I’m not actually depressed.

That’s only a small piece of the giant load of bull shit that depression was telling me.

It was completely random and by accident that I came across the word “dysthymia” and had to find out what it was. I found out it was an old name for chronic depression, which is a milder but longer lasting form of depression.

As I read more about it, I kept thinking, holy shit! I think I have this.

That of course had me worried that I was self diagnosing and that, again, it was all in my head.

I have since, more or less, been told by both my old and new doctors that I have depression. They never like outright said, “ok, so you have this specific disorder.” I know I should be ok with that, but a big part of my brain wants to put a name on it. I feel like somehow it would be easier to tell people, “yeah, I have this, this, and this,” than it would to be like, “yeah, I have this big huge mess of shit in my brain but I don’t have a specific word to give you for it.” It makes it seem less real somehow.

But it is real.

Today is Wednesday. On Monday, I actually felt pretty good. No particular reason I could think of, but I was just, generally a in a more positive headspace.

I wasn’t like really happy or in a spectacular mood or anything. I certainly wasn’t in a bad mood and I wasn’t “down”. I don’t really have a good way to describe it. I was just somewhere in the middle of not bad but not awesome either.

The thing that was weird is that I was shocked by it. I didn’t feel my regular level of annoyance at certain things. I just generally had a more positive response to daily things and for some reason that surprised me. I was like, whoa, this is weird.

But I didn’t fight it. Not consciously anyway.

Then Tuesday rolled around and it was the complete polar opposite. It was like the little workers that keep my brain functioning were saying, whoa, wait a minute. Somebody fucked up! Someone is going to get fired for this. Now we have to overcompensate and make today the absolute shittiest day for Keira ever!

I was getting annoyed and irritated by everything, and I just wanted the day to be over so I could curl up in bed and stay there forever.

Fast forward to this morning…

When I went to get up, I rolled over to my dog, who was fast asleep beside me. As usual, he stirred a little, while looking slightly annoyed and sleepy. I rubbed his head and his ears, scratched his back and his legs. He adjusted himself to bring his face closer to mine and I kissed him on top of his head and got up. He stretched and jumped off the bed, and stretched again before I opened the bedroom door.

This has been a regular thing since moving back in with my parents. This isn’t what mine and Mosley’s mornings looked like before, as he usually slept in his bed, probably be cause my bed was a bit smaller and I tend to kick in my sleep. Not that there was anything wrong with our old morning routine. I just really like this one better! It usually has me giggling because he’ll roll over weird and look like he doesn’t want to get up and just wants me to rub his belly and give him lots of love, even though he is a super high energy dog and the second I look like I’m getting out of bed, he leaps gleefully off the bed and prances to the door and bounds up the stairs (my room is in the basement) for my dad (who is usually already up) to let him outside for a pee.

I went into the bathroom to get ready to shower. For some reason, it suddenly dawned on me that I couldn’t remember the last time I looked at myself in the mirror. I mean really looked.

I had no intention of inserting a picture of
Jensen Ackles here, but when I  Googled
for something to use it came up, and it
just felt right. 😉

I stood there, in my plaid pajama pants and too big, weeping angel “don’t blink” T-shirt. (Doctor Who, for those of you who have no idea what that means.) I avoided my face, as I’ve done many times. I looked at my shirt, my body and my un-bra’ed chest, and groaned silently to myself. I hate my body. Always have.

Then, I made a conscious effort to look at my face. My expressionless, tired looking face.

I thought, wow, I look like shit!

I stared for a minute and then tried to make some sort of shape or expression of any kind with my mouth.

This is ridiculous, I thought. I tried to form a smile on my face and it immediately felt completely, utterly stupid and I broke eye contact with myself and stared down at the sink. I couldn’t look up again.

That was kind of my “holy shit” moment telling me, I am not happy.

Its weird. When I was really young, I was always a happy kid. My parents have told me a few times recently (probably mostly due to discussions about my grandpa, since he passed away back in March) about how cute and happy I was as a kid and how I was always smiling.

And I remember being generally a fairly happy kid as I got older. Even as I started developing, what I now know was anxiety (didn’t know at the time) I was happy. Even though I was shy around new people and I would have mental breakdowns at home about homework and other stupid things. Outside of all that, I was happy.

Somewhere along the way, things changed.

Yes, I feel happiness in moments where I should (which is part of why I struggled to admit that something was wrong in the first place). I genuinely laugh and giggle and get excited for things. I can laugh hysterically at jokes and funny stories. Receiving cool gifts and things for Christmas and my birthday and having funny discussions with my family, I do feel genuinely happy, in the moment.

Sometimes my happy reactions to things may feel a bit over the top, and I tend to realize it half way through it happening, which makes me wonder how much I’m faking without realizing I’m doing it. Sometimes I won’t have as strong of a happy reaction as I expect to have in a given situation, but many times the happiness is truly genuine.

It’s the moments where I’m alone in my head, or nothing is going on around me to distract me where I just kind of don’t feel anything. Or everything all at once. It’s not always even that I’m feeling down, although, sometimes that is the case. It’s just kind of nothing. Everything. Nothing in particular. Everything .

Usually, there are thoughts running through my head about various things and I might get panicked or upset by them, but they never make me feel happy. And sometimes its like my emotions are just blank. My brain doesn’t know what to feel, so it just feels nothing.

And that’s what I saw when I looked in the mirror this morning. Nothing.

Its how I felt last night sitting in my room watching TV. Nothing.

There were some moments of irritation mixed in there due to things happening in the house, but while that wasn’t happening… Nothing.

I think there is a part if me that is ok with life being this way, and for a long time, that part was a majority.

I realized this morning that that part of me is getting smaller and the part of me that wants to feel that child-like happiness again is getting bigger.

I don’t want to look in the mirror and see nothing.

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