Allowing Myself to Be Known

By Nell Sundra

“I need to do this on my own.”

“No one can know I’m hurting.”

“It would be a burden for them to hear about this.”

“I’m too broken to be loved.”

“No one would look at me the same if they knew.”

These were the lies I believed. I felt broken, let down, unwanted, and just plain rejected. Depression deceived me into believing that I was alone, and anxiety refused to let me reach out. I bought into the lies that told me no one wanted to hear about my pain, that they wouldn’t believe me if I told them, and that the knowledge of my sadness would be an inconvenience. And although I deeply ached to have someone standing with me through the pain, I refused to give in.

I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety in the fall of my sophomore year of college. I wasn’t sure what triggered that season of my life, and that lack of a cause spurred on even more turmoil. I felt guilt and shame over the fact that I didn’t have a “real reason” to be depressed or anxious. I was surrounded by caring friends, a supportive family, and I was pursuing my dream career. What was there to be sad about? If I couldn’t even rationalize my mental illness to myself, how could I ever explain it to anyone else?

Because of this, I spent a lot of time alone. I spent more time than I’d care to admit hurting in silence because I was too afraid and ashamed. I chose to live in isolation instead of letting anyone see the hurting parts of me. But by refusing to let anyone in, my mental illness thrived.

Community isn’t a catch-all cure for depression, but healing very rarely comes from isolation and hiding. For a long time, I desired nothing more than to be fully seen and loved without allowing myself to be fully known. I wanted someone to know all the dark parts of my heart and love me completely, but I wasn’t letting anyone close enough to see those parts. Although I often toyed with the idea of reaching out, I instead listened to the fear surrounding me.

The fear of people’s opinions prevented me from experiencing the grace they could offer. When I decided to accept that fear and tell someone anyway about the depression and anxiety I was experiencing, I was shocked and even overwhelmed by their support. “I still love you. This doesn’t change how I see you. We’ll get through this together,” I was told. There was the freedom and the space to be broken. No need to pretend to have it all together or to be whole. A community was cultivated when I spoke up and asked for help; people carried my burdens and loved me despite the parts of me I had grown ashamed of.

I won’t tell you that there are only sunny days to be had once you build a community. I continue to have hard days. I continue to wonder if I’ll always have these feelings. I continue to sometimes feel as though it’s all too much. But I am reminded that there are many parts to me, and the dark ones are not the only ones defining who I am.

Life will never be perfect or pain-free—of that, I am certain. But I am convinced that we are better together. When we refuse to let each other go through life alone, we become stronger. It isn’t easy to build a community, but extending a hand and welcoming the brokenness of others is a place to start. We are not meant to do this alone.

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Comments (8)

  1. Patricia Mathews

    I am in the same boat. Now I have to develop a social personality without allowing people to hurt me.

    Reply  |  
  2. D.

    This text really expresses everything I feel towards TWLOHA, last year I did not know how it would go so far and be alive a year later I am surprised and happy. Thank you, you are part of my table of salvation. You made me feel so understood that I stopped sinking alone to realize that outside people are struggling. I know that hard times will come back, finding reasons is also an obstacle, but I’m advancing. Thank you all, the night I found them was the worst and I could not bear it anymore, the decision was taking force and I was saying goodbye but I read one of his articles and something was caught inside me. At the moment I felt selfish, I still do, but I have been taught that together we are supporting each other and we have each other. Thanks a lot. You saved me. I would like people close to me to understand and stop branding me as conceited. I just want to draw attention. But it doesn’t matter, I count on myself and now I’m starting.

    Reply  |  
  3. Heidi Sinderman

    Beautiful thank you.
    Being deeply known is what I most long for and what I am scared of. Or maybe I’m scared about feeling scared. Regardless, this resonated with me.

    Reply  |  
  4. Kris J.

    I totally need to hear this. I was just telling someone today about an experience I have had with all of the same issues. Interesting timing.

    Reply  |  
  5. Melissa

    This is an awesome story. I too would isolate and not let any see me but then I discovered an awesome program that could help me with this and it was the best thing that I could of done for myself.

    I also have bought some books from this website that I enjoyed reading. It’s nice to know that there is a website like this that recognizes all of these things and gives us inspiring messages to help us get through everything.

    Reply  |  
  6. Teresa

    Thank you.. So much. ♥️

    Reply  |  
  7. Jarrett Davis

    I don’t suffer from depression or anxiety, but this still rang true for me. I rarely show people the dark places of my heart because I am known by family and friends as “strong”; it is often one of the first things people say about me. They don’t know I gain strength from their love.

    Reply  |  
  8. Jarrett Davis

    @ Patricia Mathews – People WILL hurt you – until you find the right people. You know about TWLOHA, so I think you have found some of the right people. You will eventually find a circle of friends who are the right people; we all have. Chin up, sister! You matter.

    Reply  |  
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