If you’re reading this, you aren’t worthless.
This is a statement that has taken me a very long time to admit to myself. I have been very blessed in life and incredibly fortunate. I had a dedicated stay-at-home mom, a strong father figure, and an overall supportive family with two older siblings. From a young age, I never had to worry about money for school nor things that I needed. As I got older, I found I could not only always get what I needed, but also what I wanted. Suffice to say, I have been given every advantage in life, and yet I still struggle with my mental health and self-image and have for years. Despite this intense struggle, I have been unwilling to recognize it inwardly or share it with others outwardly because I didn’t think it was right for me to struggle with my mental health.
Part of my struggles have been a devastatingly poor self-image. I feel a constant need to measure-up and live-up to my privilege and family name. I compare every activity, grade, and experience of mine against my family. The results then affect my mood either negatively or positively, but regardless of the result, the process is not healthy. Despite having loving family and friends, my poor self-image makes me feel like I’m on the outside and not fully connected, as I compete to earn my place.
My poor self-image combines with negative feelings after a breakup or a loss of a friend to make me believe that I will never be happy because of my ‘social ineptitude.’ My fear and belief in my social ineptitude stems from my argumentative personality which makes it harder for me to connect with others as I have the tendency to drive them away. This lack of connection causes me to doubt my ability to be loved by others and as a result makes it hard for me to love myself.
This poor self-image of being socially inept and incapable of friendship stems from my fear and feelings of unworthiness. This total feeling of unworthiness causes me to resent myself after every failure in the classroom, social setting, or other activity. Each failure wears on me and drags me down more than it should, as I agonize over my inability to live up to my own expectations and standards of success.
These feelings of unworthiness and sense of failure can pile up and send me into a horrible tailspin. I become despondent, less commutative, and struggle to even leave my apartment for food or school. I become caught in a cycle of self-loathing as I point out my flaws and then get angry at myself for being upset at all. I become upset with myself because I feel that it is wrong for me to feel depressed when I am so blessed.
I continually ask myself how I could struggle with my mental health when there are others with such bigger problems. I’m at a fantastic school, come from a loving family, and am surrounded by an entire fraternity of friends; I should feel ‘happy.’ But I’m not, and this line of internal questioning only serves to make me feel less and less worthy of my gifts as they don’t make me happy. As a result, I become more and more disappointed in myself. As the cycle continues, I begin to ask myself why I am here and why I am alive if I’m unable to live up to my advantages. I sink into dark, deep depressions, weighed down by a sense of worthlessness, unwilling and unable to reach out for a life preserver, unable to reach out for help.
But I know that giving up and fully drowning in depression and self-loathing is not the answer. In fact, that is the opposite of what I should do, and would waste my blessings more than any other mistake I could make. I realize that I can never live up to my impossible standards and I need to be more accepting of myself. More importantly, I’m slowly beginning to realize that it’s okay for me to struggle. For years I have kept my struggles a secret because I did not think I deserved to have issues. However, that is not the answer. The answer is to connect with yourself and with others. It is okay to struggle with mental health and it is okay to be unhappy. What’s not okay is to hold it in and refuse offers from others to help.
I don’t know who you are, but what I can tell you is that you are not worthless. No one is. More importantly, it is okay to be blessed and it is okay to be unhappy even if you have a relatively happy life. Mental health is hard and complicated. I’m not really sure what causes someone to suddenly struggle or stop being happy when they just had a great day the day before. What I can say when you’re in those pits and you feel yourself sinking down into that depressive, negative zone is that you can escape it. Friends and family will always be there to help you up, all you need to do is reach out and realize that while it’s okay for you to feel this way, you don’t have to.
So, if you’re reading this, I am smart, successful, blessed, and I struggle with my mental health. If you’re reading this, I’m not alone and neither are you. If you’re reading this, it’s okay to be unhappy and it’s okay to struggle. If you’re reading this failing does not mean you have failed as a human being. If you’re reading this, I’m struggling, but I’m working to love myself the way I know I am loved. If you’re reading this, then you’re worthy of feeling loved and being happy too.