There’s a symptom of my depression that I never hear anyone talk about. Depression has completely destroyed my confidence. And it’s not just during a depressive episode. I lack confidence even when I’m feeling good. This is a fairly recent development, in the last ten years or so. It dates to just before I was officially diagnosed with depression.
When I was younger, I was brimming with confidence. Although I probably wouldn’t have called it confidence. I probably would have said that I’m sure of myself. I don’t think I was ever a braggart. I’ve always been too quiet for that. There were probably times, as a teenager, where the confidence came off as cockiness, but I think that mostly passed by college. It mostly came down to having a good sense of myself. I knew what I was good at and what I was less good at, and I behaved accordingly. Why be nervous or frightened of things that I know I’m good at?
Things flipped for me sometime during my marriage. I don’t remember a transition period. All of a sudden, I couldn’t be less sure of myself. I started second guessing myself constantly. I got even quieter than I’ve always been. My starting assumption was (and is) always that no one was interested in anything I had to say. (I get the irony of keeping a blog while feeling like no one is interested.) And I became hesitant like nobody’s business. When I was younger, I’d take on any project knowing I could do it. Now I’m worried about failing whenever I take on something new. It doesn’t seem to matter at all that I know better.
The worst part is that my lack of confidence has seriously hurt my quality of life. I’m pretty sure it’s gotten in the way of relationships. I’m quite sure it’s kept me from meeting new people and trying new things. I’m also sure it’s kept me from applying to jobs that I probably would have enjoyed. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it’s kept me from getting hired at the jobs I do apply for. It sucks.
I’ve tried for years to fix it, but, so far, have had no luck. I’ve tried affirmations and journaling and meditating and therapy and faking confidence. None of it seems to work. I’m going to keep trying, though. Not because I feel like I’ll be successful but because I feel like I owe it to myself and the people around me to keep trying. Any suggestions?