She’d never been an overly confident person. She was bullied a lot in high school and made to feel like she was just not good enough. There was nothing in her life that she excelled at (except for her excellent music knowledge, particularly the 80’s) or that set her apart from others. She wasn’t good at sport, her marks at school were average and she didn’t have a line of boys (or girls) vying for her affection.
Once she left home and the small town she just didn’t quite fit into, things changed. Through work and uni, she met like-minded people. On her doorstep was a whole new city to explore. The new found freedom and independence she had acquired promoted self-growth and she was determined that nothing was going to hold her back. She was finally comfortable in her own skin and no longer afraid to be authentic self around others.
Of course, this newly confident girl would never be immune to episodes of self-deprecation and feelings of unworthiness. The depression would make sure of this. But, to her credit, she would always get herself back up and continue forward. Break-ups, toxic relationships, the loss of friends, getting through two semesters of chemistry, failing miserably at calculus and years of abusive, self-entitled customers – she could get through almost anything!
Peak confidence levels were reached at the beginning of 2015 when she made the brave decision to leave a two-year emotionally abusive relationship. She made a best friend, someone who encouraged her to step out of her comfort zone, someone who always had her back. She had a great bunch of friends who were supportive and fun, she started her dream degree at uni and most importantly, she learned to love herself and to do things for her. She appreciated her own company which saw her doing things on her own. She travelled interstate by herself, took herself to see her favourite bands, expanded her social circles by meeting new people in unconventional ways, she took burlesque classes, tried yoga and even planned to run a marathon. She began to feel more like her true self, more than she had ever felt before.
For the first time in her life, she was in a respectful and loving relationship with a partner who encouraged her to follow her dreams. She made the hard, but mature decision to take a year off her studies to save a bit of money and maybe travel. She found herself a full-time job that didn’t involve weekend work. Important friendships began to crumble, but she kept her head high. Her new job started causing her a bit of grief but she dealt with it. She found herself a brand-spanking new job with an awesome bunch of people, where she was valued for her work and took home a slightly larger paycheck. She discovered her love of writing and decided to start a blog. This encouraged her to drop the science degree and pursue one in communications. She very unexpectedly ended up moving in with her partner at the end of last year and together they created a home and even added another kitty to the family.
She felt the dark cloud of depression creep up on her, but she couldn’t understand why. There was no explicit reason to be depressed. She soon started to realise that this was different to anything else she had ever experienced. She found herself dreading to go to the job she once loved. The thought of speaking to people over the phone gave her butterflies. Going to work and partaking in daily friendly banter with her colleagues made her sick. There was no way she could muster up the energy to smile and pretend everything was okay. Driving made her anxious, she could no longer handle the uncertainty of chaotic Melbourne traffic. The loss of friendships made her feel like she was a bad person, a bad friend. She started drifting away from others, in fear of getting hurt again.
And then one day, her confidence disappeared. Simple daily tasks were seemingly impossible to complete, she was unemployed, she couldn’t leave the house or exercise without feeling fatigued. Only a few were interested in her welfare which left her feeling isolated and unvalued. This created a bubble of unhealthy thoughts and feelings. She started doubting herself, maybe the depression was all in her head.
But it wasn’t in her head. It’s real and although she’s now in recovery, she has lost a bit of her spark along the way. The girl you would once find in the middle of a mosh pit can no longer muster up the courage to go to a concert. The girl who once enjoyed the company of others now fears social interactions. The girl who once loved shopping for clothes is now disinterested because she knows they don’t fit the way they used to. The girl who could once hold down a full-time job and study on the side is now worrying about how she is going to manage a couple of days at work.