*SFD or Shitty first draft is a Brené Brown concept from her new book Rising Strong. She describes it as being the following six sentences/categories – “The story I’m making up, my emotions, my body, my thinking, my beliefs, my actions” – written, unedited, in your five-year-old tyrant’s point of view.
In my spare time when I am not working, I scrapbook in my hotel room. The pictures I work on are for events with clear beginnings and ends with uniform pictures. I just got to this set. They are from sometime in the Fall of 2005. I had attempted suicide early that September.
I look at these pictures, and my shitty first draft (SFD) starts running through my head.
- They didn’t want to acknowledge I had depression.
- It’s easier to brag that your niece is becoming an engineer instead of just going crazy.
- No one REALLY asked me how I was doing.
This then morphed into questions.
- Why didn’t I say anything?
- Why did I always insist on putting on a strong front and deny my weaknesses?
- Why did I always fake happiness around my family?
And then answers to the questions.
- My aunt and uncle came to visit because they worried about me. They were just as scared as I was and didn’t know what to do. So they came to visit, and I showed them I was fine. Even though I wasn’t. I hadn’t been going to class. I had so much anxiety it made it hard to even get to campus. I still showed them around, even though I was nervous that we would come across a classmate or teacher that would blow my cover.
- All they wanted was to show me that they loved me. My brain kept me from that. My brain kept me from trusting my family. My brain told me that no one cared. That they were only visiting me to tick off some check box that said they did something. I wasn’t capable of accepting their love.
- One of the biggest reasons I didn’t get as much help as I really needed is because I couldn’t recognize I needed it and I didn’t ask. My family would have helped more if I hadn’t pushed them away and put up a front of being ok.
I let depression take over my life. First gradually, then suddenly. I didn’t know what was happening. I couldn’t stop it. I hadn’t been given the words to describe the emptiness and apathy. It was the apathy that hurt the most. I didn’t have words to describe that I cared about my schoolwork, but not enough to get up and go to class. That there was a big pile of rocks that I had to carry with me everywhere.
I didn’t know how to function outside of the “I’m okay” state. There were no other acceptable options in public. I smiled and acted like everything was fine. Inside, I was dying slowly. I was not okay. I could not admit to someone it was too hard being normal and all the weight made getting out of bed the biggest battle I could handle, and going somewhere was out of the question.
All of the energy that wasn’t taken up by depression was for being okay. Or at least look like I was okay. There was no joy, sadness, anger, disgust, fear. Just okay and not okay.
I lived operating between these two states for 9 more years. Looking back on it is hard, especially since I’m doing so much better now. I want to look to the future, but I need to get my past in order so it doesn’t come back to haunt me.