Diagnosis: Imposter Syndrome
DISCLAIMER: The following content may be a little sensitive. I talk about mental health struggles that detail the pitfalls of depression. With that said, let’s begin.
I sit here writing to you as I should be writing more often. I should be creating on a daily. I should be doing a lot of things, but I’ve noticed that I am living a facade. In fact, I’m a liar.
I’m a liar to you, to myself, to my loved ones. I have been giving myself these “pep talks” that everything is okay. The pep talk typically goes along the lines like this, “I will get through this hurdle along the journey and it will only make me stronger” OR “Today is going to be a great day.”
But, the more I walk down this path, the more I realize that I am barely staying alive. Can’t relate? Yeah, me neither… until 2 years ago.
This condition I call “depression” has consumed me in a way that is numbing. I barely feel anything, except for sadness. My therapy is watching sad, romance movies. Now, my life wasn’t always like this. Let me emphasize that I have and still am a functioning, motivated adult. I just can’t help and reflect on the 18-year-old girl that used to be fearless and not have the words “can’t,” “impossible,” or “difficult” in her vocabulary. The girl who would dream so big she convinced herself that Zac Efron could take her to her high school Senior prom. (creative YouTube flash mob videos were BIG back in 2013; It never happened, but I tried)
The words “can’t,” “impossible,” or “difficult,” are now friends at the dinner table.
Sad movies haven’t been my only therapy. I have sought out professional help from a great therapist in Miami who has helped me transition out of this rut. But, as I was telling her in one of our sessions, depression is like an old friend. I’ve been depressed for the majority of my life, with the exception of the last 2 years, that it’s become even harder to shake off because this feeling has made a home in me. It’s like your favorite pair of jeans or sweater. I would say almost comfortable.
I never would have thought in a million years that I would have depression. I never would have thought to be writing this. Although I don’t owe anyone an explanation, a lot is left to be said that I am not telling you. However, I write this in light of someday normalizing mental health because people don’t know what it is until it happens to them.
I wish I could give you a better sense of this feeling. I wish there was a small video camera in my brain that shows you how my emotions are processed on a daily basis. I wish I didn’t have to look in the mirror because all I see is this invisible grey cloud above my head that casts a shadow so dark, I could cry. And, with all this said, no one would notice.
The idea of suicide is normalized in my head. I walk through people everyday and play this persona that everything is okay. You can ask me if I’m okay and would smile in response. So, am I really okay?
I don’t know.
The only thing that has made me happy are three things: traveling, visiting friends, and meeting the love of my life. I’ve lost 2 of the 3 things that make me happy. However, I am a believer that what is lost can be found again. On #WorldsMentalHealthDay I took to speak about my personal struggle of my mental health on my personal Instagram with the intention of awareness. I later received countless messages of support but also several, private messages from people sharing their private struggle with their mental health. And, guess what?
We aren’t alone.
I heard from people who I haven’t heard from in years. People who reached out to me from industries vastly different from mine and finding a common ground. I do believe that we all face imposter syndrome at one point in our lives. Imposter syndrome was a termed coined back in the 1970s by psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD.
People who are “diagnosed” with impostor phenomenon occur among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success, according to the American Psychological Association. Although imposter syndrome isn’t part of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), psychologists and others acknowledge that it is a very real and specific form of intellectual self-doubt. Imposter feelings are generally the consequence of anxiety and, often, depression.
In the end, as my therapist says… https://twitter.com/BarbaraBright/status/1184515455622565888