Authenticity and Battling Depression
Edited by Natalie Whitmore
Demi Lovato, Kendra Wikinson, Micheal Jackson, Beyoncé Knowles, Oprah Winfrey, Rihanna, Kanye West, Adele, Miley Cyrus, Eva Longoria and J.K Rowling….
What’s the one thing that these stars share in common?
Well, apart from all being incredibly successful in their own callings, they have all dealt with depression.
Yes depression! Isn’t it surprising?
Who would have thought that Oprah (THE OPRAH WINFREY) Eva, or Beyoncé would have dealt with depression.
These are fierce, bold, beautiful, and courageous women. They have all gone on inspiring journeys and hold unbeatable experiences. They use their minds and voices, as well as their talents, to change the world. They are celebrated worldwide for being near perfect templates for womanhood. So, how could they have battled with the despression?
Who could have thought that stardom, fame and acknowledgement came with attendant consequences?
It might not be made known, but depression is really more common then we think. And clearly, it doesn’t just happen to some select group of people; it can happen to anyone! Globally, 300 million people suffer from depression, with about 1 in 4 people in the UK experiencing mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
The earliest signs of depression are loss of enthusiasm for things that you were once passionate about, mood swings and feeling of hopelessness. Reading upon stories particularly of stars that have battled with depression, one thing was often highlighted: depression can be linked to the pressure of self-expectations, as well as your likeability and authenticity.
Do you know the quest for being liked and the expectations of others on yourself can make you depressed?
You see, when there is an expectation of how you should ‘be’, how you should look or how you should sound, a kind of pressure begins to build within you. This pressure starts mildly and then gradually builds up.
Wanting to meet up to these expectations, will have you doing things you ordinarily would not. This could even lead you to do some even questionable things that rob you off your authenticity. An example of this could be found in social media’s fast track to fame process, where people are able to build careers and large incomes off of who they are seen to be on social media.
There’s no problem with making money in a smart way. Yet, this is an example of where being ‘yourself’ is not getting you the right attention, which can lead us to become different from who we are on the inside. If this goes badly, the consequence of failing can lead you not only to an identity crisis, but also in some cases a financial one- both leading to damaging your mental state.
When you aren’t your authentic self, whether it be by choice for a career or a partner for example, your life soon becomes a performance. The thing about performances is that it is compensated by applauses and accolades. Not those these are bad, but they are fleeting.
And what about when the applauses wane?
Insecurity sets in because you have built your life on the expectations of society. Who you are on the inside and who you are on the outside are conflicting. You traded authenticity for likeability, and it’s costing you your uniqueness.
Trying to get that balance between authenticity and likeability often leads to depression. Rather than trying to measure up to societal expectations, resolve that anything that stifles you from being your full self. The loss of authenticity is too high of a price to pay.
People are fickle, same with their standards, accolades and applause. Living your life auto regulated by people’s expectations and approval is the last thing you want to do.
LOVE and ACCEPT yourself for who you are. Surround yourself with positive people who love and accept you, for you. Then, everything will fall into place.
Need more convincing? Check these five tips for battling depression and re-finding your authenticity:
- Accept that you are unique, and your uniqueness is not for everyone. The problem at times is that we keep trying to get the wrong people to accept us. Quite frankly they do not have to. You must get to a point where you know who you are, what you are worth, and understand very deeply what you want in life. You are unique and those that your truth serves will find you. Until then just keep being you.
- Practice self-affirmation. Tell yourself that you are beautiful, smart, intelligent and resourceful, etc. Write them down, stick them up and say these words to yourself out loud everyday. Even seek to record yourself saying these words to you. Get self-affirming songs and make them your ringtone or alarm tone. The practice is just reminding yourself everyday of whom you are.
- Surround yourself with people who understand, accept you and love you for who you are. There’s no better feeling with being yourself, then sharing that space you have for yourself with others. Sharing you is a gift that shouldn’t be hidden. Again, you’re not for everyone, but equally, not everyone deserves you either!
- TALK! The last thing you want to do is keep quiet and continue to nurture depression. Talk to a trusting friend or talk to your family if you can. Also, seek help from a trained psychologist/therapist- in time people will understand your issues only if you are willing to help them in doing so.
- Everyone at some point goes through a type of mental health illness- whether intensely or slightly. Statistics actually show that depression affects almost 25% of the population in a given year. This just reinforces that you are not alone in this, you are not weird, and you just need some help.
I hope this helps.
‘Authenticity, Likeability and Depression‘ by Derinsola Adeniran – Looking into the effect of social pressures on mental health. Instagram @derinnsola