For me, one of the hardest parts of depression to recognize and combat is the feeling that I’m just not good enough. This isn’t quite the same as Impostor Syndrome, which is more the feeling that others think I’m not as good as I claim. No, in this case, I’m the one questioning my ability, my prowess, and my worth.
I have had a few good things happen to me. I can’t deny that. The problem is, I don’t believe I deserve them, so I can’t accept them for what they are. I assume there’s an ulterior motive at work, or that something will happen to knock me back down to where I feel I belong. And the inevitable stumbles only reinforce that belief, proving (in my mind) that I was right all along.
In reality, I’m the CTO of what is potentially a billion-dollar company. My mere presence, according to investors, is worth eight figures. Next week, I’m going to be interviewing someone who may become the newest member of our dev team. In other words, someone who will do nothing but take pressure off of me.
In my mind, I’m a mediocre programmer with no formal training and a wandering mind, whose biggest software release was a recipe book app that racked up 20 sales over three years. No matter what my boss says—or how much he would prefer I call him something other than that—I constantly feel as if I’m one mistake or one missed deadline away from being fired.
In reality, I love and am loved by a woman who has been blessed with seemingly infinite patience. She understands me better than I ever have. She brightens my world, even as she expands it. Just seeing a text from her lifts my spirits and sets me at ease.
In my mind, I wonder how anyone could ever love me, and why, after all I’ve put her through, she hasn’t kicked me to the curb yet. She tells me there’s no one better for her, while I think she could throw a rock from her front door and hit a better man.
At my darkest times, I simply feel that I don’t deserve any of it. The love, the trust, the patience…what have I done to deserve it? Certainly nothing material. My biggest accomplishments of the last ten years in that department are a few novels that almost nobody outside my little circle has ever read, much less enjoyed. Mentally, I know I’m very high on the intelligence scale, but when have I had the chance to use that?
With everything happening in the world and nothing happening in my life, it’s sometimes hard to imagine that my time isn’t running out. I’m 38 years old. Since my birthday three months ago, I’ve often wondered whether I would make it to 40. On the worst days, though, I started wondering whether I wanted to. Whether it was worth going on when I knew in my heart that things weren’t getting any better than they are now. And, even if it was, whether I deserved it.