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Some days, my mental health just isn’t where I want or need it to be. As far as I can tell, there’s not really a cause, other than perhaps biology, exhaustion, or stress. But I’m writing today because I’m in the thick of it. No matter what I tell myself, my brain is full of sadness and feeling without purpose or meaning. The core of my self always feels this, I think, but most days I can put enough layers of seeming normalcy around it that the frayed and sharp edges are softened enough and I can pass like everyone else.

But today, well, I feel like most of those layers are gone, and what’s left is so transparent that people regard me as though I might break at any moment. It’s strange, because in these moments, the broken people in my life, my inspiration for healing, seem to sense that I’m doing poorly, because inexplicably, they reach out.

And, while the darkness inside me should recoil and surrender at these kind gestures, it doesn’t. It’s made of strong stuff as well, and doesn’t move well for anything other than itself. It whispers lies in my ear, that in the face of this evidence that I’m loved and worthy of it, how much I don’t deserve it.

It’s frustrating because thoughts like that feel juvenile and regressive and nonproductive, and the fact that I continue feeling them well into my adulthood makes me feel like I’ve never matured enough to move past them. I feel stunted and immature and petty for these concepts that my mind won’t let go of. I feel angry at the fixation that stands in the way of nearly anything I’m trying to do.

And because all these thoughts don’t feel grown up enough to broach with anyone in my life, I keep them to myself, embarrassed and silent. The ugliness festers, and the barely protected exterior struggles to contain the roiling interior.

Depression isn’t feeling sad, it’s feeling irredeemable and utter hopelessness. There’s not a platitude on the planet that could fix it, so why my brain yearns for some sort of outside validation seems comically misplaced.

Perhaps that’s the lie, as I look for someone else to help me process it, I get to overlook my own abilities to fix myself, because I’m already filled with such self doubt. It’s crippling and heartbreaking and without end.