A Kinder Lens

By Nell SchreckAugust 17, 2015

I’ve never hidden the fact that I have low self-esteem. Growing up, I always assumed that the other kids wouldn’t like me, so I never put myself out there. I refused to take risks because, in my mind, I had no shot at succeeding and I didn’t want to be let down when I inevitably failed. The idea that I was nothing kept me on the sidelines for the majority of my life and caused me to miss out on so many experiences that I will never be able to get back. Ultimately, my negative perception of myself has been the most difficult hurdle to overcome as I’ve spent years fighting depression.

Not long ago, I had a really bad depressive episode that left me unable to leave my bed. I felt like the tears would never stop flowing. I wanted more than ever for my life to end and didn’t believe that I offered the world enough to have the privilege of being alive. More treatment, more drugs, more socialization, everyone had an opinion on what would make me see more value in my life. My response was always that no matter how great a treatment was, or what skills I picked up, at the end of it all, I would still be me. That was the eternal flaw. Intellectually, I knew that parts of my life would improve as soon as I put in the work, but I could change everything about my life and that wouldn’t solve the core problem. New home, new job, new social situations, it’s all great on the surface, but like the old saying, “Wherever you go, there you are.” I was never fully able to get away from the idea that it wasn’t my life that sucked: It was me.

One afternoon, I was crying in my room when my brother walked in and asked what was going on. I told him I was done. Done trying, done being sad, done living. Just done. I tried telling him that it didn’t matter what I tried, because I would always find a way to mess it up. “I’m a worthless piece of shit,” I told him. He looked up at me; both confused and shocked, “Says who?” I had no answer. In reality, I couldn’t remember where I first got the idea that I was nothing; it was just always something I believed about myself. I have always had an inability to see the good in myself, never believing that anything I said or did was worthy of praise or recognition. Just shame. This idea has crippled me since I was a little girl, paralyzing me with fear and self-doubt that has colored every part of my world.

I have spent my whole life using my stubbornness as a crutch, even though it obviously wasn’t doing me any favors and has held me back more times than I can count. My brother challenged me to turn it into a gift, to refuse to let my depression win, to use my strength to change my story. This conversation became my “Aha” moment.

I began to wonder how my brain has allowed itself to take any morsel of negativity I’ve experienced in my life and spin it into an entire identity of self-loathing and worthlessness. In reality, there is so much evidence that these beliefs I’ve held about myself for so long are simply lies my brain is perpetuating. I have only ever been able to see the worst in myself, but that day, I made the decision to allow the belief others had in me to carry me through when I clearly was unable to hold myself up.

Looking at myself through the kinder lens of someone who loves me has been paramount in the healing of my soul. I’ve begun to see that although I am filled with flaws, they don’t erase all of the good that I have to offer. I’ve given myself permission to take pride in the person I’ve become and challenged myself to look to a brighter future. It wasn’t long ago that I believed I wouldn’t get a future at all. I think the greatest lesson I’ve learned is to not believe every thought that I have about myself. It’s OK to challenge those thoughts, and, when they’re particularly harsh, to be critical. I will have to spend the rest of my life managing my depression, but that doesn’t mean it will control me. The most important part in recovery is taking the power back and allowing yourself to believe you deserve to win.

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Comments (18)

  1. Kelly

    This is my story. This is me to a tee. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. gerry scott-higgins

    Nell, i feel your pain. my heart goes out to you and even though i don’t know you, if you ever want to talk to someone outside your family, i am here for you. i used to work with your mom and we talk on fb. my grandson and grand daughter are going through that and i do not know how to help him. i talk to them and encourage them to get into therapy. but i love your post and share with them. i will also share your website so they can see for themselves. you han in there and trust that God will bring yo out of this dark place. the more you talk about it, the better you will feel. please know that sharing your experience is helping others. much love and smooches to you.

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  3. Erica

    I was in tears by the end of this. Thank you so much for this.

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  4. Cole

    That is a truly raw story! I felt for you when I heard that you thought that it wasn’t your life that sucked but yourself. I feel that at times too! And I agree that treatment doesn’t change it, but admitting to it and taking control of it does! Also listen to music!!

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  5. amine

    keep going , it’s going to be a long journey where you’ll face more difficulties and problems , but you know what , i believe in you the same as i believe in my self , and i know that no matter the circonstences , you’ll find a solution . you know why ? cause you’re a hero in every step you take and you’ll be taking , and thats what heros do ,change themselve first to change the world after !

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  6. Danielle

    Reading this I felt as though I was reading parts of my life story

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  7. Wafae

    Thank you for sharing. I’ll take your story like an example for my recovery.

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  8. hannah

    I’ve never read a story that hits it right on the head for me I’ve been in one of my worst depression episodes since I was 16 when the doctors and my parents finally realized there was more behind my behavior then the fact that I was a sensitive child I’m 27 now and have been fighting to manage it all i recently srarted thinking this is just how I am and if I deserve to be better and not live in pain anymore then my continuing battle with these thoughts would have ended a long time ago .it’s been a couple of months that I’ve been feeling done just so lost that I there is no way to find my way back and then I read your story and I think this might be my “aha” moment just knowing there is others like me that felt and struggled the way I have and didn’t give up its been really hard not being able to talk to my loved ones about everything I’ve been feeling and thinking because most reactions are “you a have choice to happy or not and you choose not to be” or my fave is “just take a pill you’ll be fine” …reading your story has really made me rethink my self worth and I want to get better I just have make myself believe I deserve it and with the inspiration that I’ve gathered from your story is a good start thank you

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  9. Zach

    Nell, thank you for your vulnerability. You put into words what I have experienced for so long. I was crying while reading this.

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  10. Lisi

    wow, thank you for sharing! I have felt this way all too long. I haven’t hit the place you’re at now but hope to get there one day. I think it’s harder to love yourself than it is to love someone else!

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  11. Maggie

    I have spent so much time focused on what I am not…I don’t see what I truly am. To see ourselves as God sees us…beautiful children of God…that is the lens I want to see myself and others through.

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  12. Jess

    Wow. You’re incredible.
    I connect to this so deeply.
    Thank you.

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  13. Leslie

    Loved this so much!! Thanks for sharing.

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  14. Emilie

    So proud of you Nell for sharing your story with others and for fighting! Your blog is great, you should write a book! Stay strong! ♡

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  15. Rebecca

    This post really resonated with me. It was beautiful and expressed everything that I had been going through as well.
    “The most important part in recovery is taking the power back and allowing yourself to believe you deserve to win.” – I think for the longest time I let depression and the lies it told me define who I was and let me believe that I didn’t deserve to win and I deserved to live with what I had because it was “who I am”. So thank you for this post. Thank you for putting yourself out there and sharing your story.

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  16. Monica

    Took the words right out my mouth. Thanks for sharing!

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  17. Matthew

    I needed to read this tonight, and I’m so thankful you’re still here. I’m not doing too well, but hearing that others feel this way help me realize I’m not alone. I am not alone, and I will look through the kinder lens until I believe that.

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