Being Supergirl

Being Super Girl: Depression in the 21st Century

Ladies, do you ever feel the weight of the world is on your shoulders? We fought for equality for decades, and when we finally achieve it, we experience all the negative emotional stigma attached to it. We as women are supposed to have careers, bear and raise children, be a good friend, a good lover, a dependable professional, and still be what Roseanne Barr terms as the domestic goddess.

With these expectations, women are still expected to hold it all together and be the center of the family. We are not supposed to be afraid, anxiety, doubt, or any emotion other than happiness. I really do not think Betty Friedan had this in mind when she wrote about the unfulfilled housewife. Ms. Friedan never mentioned feeling inadequate, wishing we could clone ourselves or feel as though we are under scrutiny for every action, we as women have. There are even some of us who feel incomplete if we do not fulfill some of the roles assigned to us by society.

Feelings of Not Being Enough

About five years ago, I began to have thoughts of inadequacy. I had a good career, was considered one of the top professionals in my field, was obtaining multiple advanced degrees, and was respected by my peers. Granted I have a supportive, loving husband but I felt like a failure in my life. I could not have children, and comments from our families began to wear on me. Why could I not produce a son? Am I a real woman even though I never had children? Between societal expectations with the feelings of my in-laws as well as my blood family, I felt as though I was abnormal. I was a deviant who was not deserving of the title woman.

What made things worse was I had no one to talk to about what I was going through. When I would generally bring up the topic of my depression, I was told to get over it. I was told that depression was all in my head and I should be grateful for what I had. I attempted suicide three times, and I was told it was a dramatic ploy on my behalf. I was told by one female acquaintance I was selfish because I could not get my act together.

As I look back on those conversations, I am amused by the attitudes I encountered. Women are supposed to encourage one another, or so we are taught. The fact is that women do not encourage one another. They are programmed to tear each other down. Growing up, I was obese and highly intelligent. If girls and boys in my class were not picking at me for my appearance, it was about my intelligence. If I had a dime for every time someone stabbed me in the back or did something to me that was mean-spirited, I would never have to work another day in my life. Instead, I went to my bed and did not get out of it for five years.

The Different Faces of Depression

Depression can look like several things. It can be a woman who is always smiling and seems to have a perfect life. She always looks great, always has a neat, clean home and her life seemingly has no flaws. However, behind closed doors is a different story. A depressed woman can be obsessed with keeping up the fairy tale, so no one knows how miserable she is. It can be an overweight, single woman who collects cats. My depression is going off the grid, not responding to others, staying off social media, and refusing to answer questions about her life.

Silence can be deadly. I felt as if no one was going to listen, so why bother to talk to anyone. I am fortunate I had a husband who cared enough to uproot his life, move us to a completely different state, and put me in touch with professionals who are helping me. I love the area of the country I am in; I love the opportunities that are here, and most of all I love how people are supportive of one another. I am no longer ashamed to talk about my condition.

Ladies, what we all need to remember is we have fought long and hard for equality, but that does not mean we must achieve perfection. We need to talk openly and honestly about our struggles. We need to let others know they are not alone. No matter what our background is, the idea that someone else is experiencing the same things we are helps us get through. Trust me, this obese girl could have used friends during her struggle. It was bad enough to be told growing up people will be people and the name-calling and bullying is a part of growing up, but to know as an adult I was alone in the world almost did me in. Talk to someone, anyone, if you make sure your concerns are heard.

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