He who feels it knows it
So the next few minutes maybe difficult to read, as depression is one of those topics society would rather sweep under the carpet. I wrote this post fighting back tears because this is the one area of my life that I’m yet to recover from.
Where do I begin
One fateful day a few years ago after months of research, I decided to undergo a routine Lasik operation for short eye sight. Before moving forward with the op, I went for a lengthy consultation with what seemed like a trustworthy eye surgeon (ophthalmologist), and he assured me that my eyes were in safe hands and added that, this was a minor op with a 2 week recovery time. So I cautiously set a date. The actual procedure was fairly uncomplicated, and took less than 15 minutes.
My eyes were understandably sensitive for a few days but that wasn’t anything unusual
The real problems began around 10 days after the op, when I noticed that my eyes still looked as red and raw as they had straight after the procedure. They weren’t clearing up in the way the eye surgeon had claimed, and I became even more concerned when they started to feel dry and itchy; every time I blinked I felt as if my inner eyelids were burning, making the act of blinking extremely painful. As ridiculous as this sounds now, the pain was so bad, I thought I would go blind.
I went straight to the hospital and therein began my first in a long string of check-ups
In those first few weeks, I was lost in denial, hoping against hope that my eyes would clear up. I bombarded the ophthalmologist with endless calls – inside I was livid! He supplied me with a new dose of eye meds each week, all of which failed to work.
After 3 months of using the most obscure eye drops I have ever heard of, I had to fess up to the reality that my eye op had gone drastically wrong. The worst thing was looking in the mirror – my reflection had me traumatized. I didn’t recognize the person looking back at me, and I had real issues coming to terms with the damage.
Up until that point I would describe myself as outgoing
I took my health for granted, shopping excessively, partying, I wasn’t lazy, but I took life easy, I didn’t apply myself to any great extent, and I just kind of existed, having a good time whenever I could.
All of that ended in a matter of weeks following my op, and I gradually began falling deeper and deeper into depression: a process I wasn’t completely aware of until my life started to unravel.
As a result, my esteem was left in tatters and I went from being a social butterfly, to an anti-social wreck
What I haven’t told you is
A few months beforehand, I started seeing a guy I liked. Yep…disaster… I had to explain to him that I couldn’t meet him anymore as I felt embarrassed about my appearance, although I doubt I actually said that, and I remember that he responded with an email explaining all the reasons why we should meet again.
In fact he was so supportive that shortly after – we became engaged. He was Canadian and I can’t even begin to explain how amazing he was. He tried his utmost to make me feel better, but even he couldn’t save me from myself.
Much to his disappointment, I had a difficult time receiving his love. My lack of self esteem made me highly paranoid and reclusive and we ended up indoors a lot. The upside was, he was a freaking good cook, yet I know he would have preferred to go out. Unfortunately my emotional baggage was one of the reasons we eventually broke up.
You see, I had a hard time letting go of the past
And I spent hours wishing I could undo that day; I would dream of waking up to a time when everything was back to normal, and I literally became zombified, living day to day on autopilot, feeling completely dead inside.
I would often explode into tears
Then pretend everything was okay. Not getting any concrete answers from various doctors forced me to search for answers online, to figure out what the heck was wrong with my eyes, and thankfully I came across a small eye forum, with other people suffering from the same symptoms:
Seriously blotchy red, itchy eyes, on a permanent basis – medically known as dry eye disease
Whether I slept for 12 hours a night, or sipped fruit juices all week, my eyes looked scary around the clock, and strangers would often ask me, “Have you been smoking?” (weed) such was their sickly appearance.
On one hand I was relieved to find I wasn’t the only person, however discovering that I had a permanent disease, had a disastrous effect on how I felt about myself. It’s incredible what happens when you begin to lose hope, I kept asking myself:
Why? Why me? Why now? Why so young?
Whereas I had felt like I had a lifetime ahead of me, now I felt as if my life had been cut short
I was no longer cheerful, and I started questioning whether I was worthy of loving. Although the eyes are a small organ in the body, it was the first thing people noticed when they met me.
I couldn’t hide them behind clothes or make-up, so every time I spoke to someone, I had to suck it up and prepare myself for their reaction. For this reason, I became acutely aware of other people’s responses towards me, so to avoid rejection I would automatically look down when I spoke to people.
The other issue was carrying at least 20 vials of artificial tears each day, which I applied into my eyes every 20 minutes to take away the awful discomfort of blinking. Eye make-up was out as it irritated my eyes. I tried to use whitening eye drops, only for them to make my eyes worse over time.
By far the most humiliating experience was how I was treated at work
Not so much by my colleagues but by my managers, and the clients I came into contact with who would either stare in disgust or ignore me once they noticed something was amiss.
My journey regarding self esteem and confidence began when I hit rock bottom about myself
I was desperate to feel happier and decided to make an effort to build myself up, although it wasn’t easy. Once I resolved to give confidence a try, there were certain habits I had to ban immediately to protect myself from feeling any worse, and they have continued to help me whenever I feel down:
Hope they help you too [This is an excerpt from one of our emails]:
1. Comparing yourself to others
You are an individual. You were not created to be like anyone else. Your perspective, gifts and value are exclusively yours and yours alone. Revel in them.
2. Believing you have to be perfect
You are human. You can never be perfect even if you try. You will always make mistakes.
3. Trying to avoid rejection
Rejection is a natural part of life, everyone goes through it. The harsh reality is, not everyone is going to like you. Rejection is not the end of your journey, it is the beginning as you will meet plenty of other people, who embrace what you have to offer.
Distraction and putting things off for another day seems innocent in the beginning, but chart your actions over a year, and you will see how much your progress suffers. Just imagine how much further you’ll be next year by starting your goals….today!
5. Emotional, Verbal, Physical, Sexual Abuse
If you are a victim of abuse, you will undoubtedly experience repeated, and sustained behavior that hampers your sense of self worth. Without anything to stop it, abuse only gets worse. As tough as it may be, avoid self deception (thinking the person will change), seek help and share your case with others who can provide answers. Whenever you need to, pursue professional help.
Accept yourself and embrace who you are. Don’t be a slave to acceptance.
It’s okay if other people don’t like you, as long as you like you and remember that God loves you: His approval is all you need.
Why not share this on Twitter and Facebook with your friends and family