So I still remember Niki (who I honestly didn’t think knew me from Adam) seeing me by the elevators on Sunday night, after the finals were done and noticing that I’d been all kinds of high-energy and super-encouraging all weekend and it was a little surprising to see me all run down. And I WAS totally feeling it. But even then I don’t think I was aware of how severe what I was feeling actually *was*. It actively surprises people when I say “I get seriously introverted and antisocial”. It actively surprised people when I say “I’ve been struggling with depression for nearly two full decades”. I had no desire to acknowledge limits about myself in my twenties. I took no small measure of pride in having learned how to manage my depression in my thirties.
I’m fortunate though. I’ve got the support of a simply incredible family who have supported my passions (and one of them is increasingly joining in). I am discovering an academic community that is simply the most welcoming and that has accepted me completely, for who I am. And the people who play this silly little buzzer game that I keep running around supporting with my work? They are the MOST affirming. Consistently. Even when I’m convinced that I’ve done a bad job reading or I’ve gotten too obnoxious with one-liners or my cell phone or I simply don’t feel like I deserve it. A host of you show up to let me know otherwise.
It still is hard to understand that these feelings of inadequacy are my own head lying to me. Those feelings can make me toxic in various ways. I don’t listen to anything but myself. I get defensive. I lash out at the first vaguely critical word. I take everything personal when nothing is meant personal.
But maybe there’s a difference between the desperation around the feeling that you’re betraying weakness and brokenness if you let any of that show, and the realization that you’re not the only one struggling in this way, that a whole lot more of us know this territory.