Are You Exhausted from Trying to Be Stronger than You Feel?


beautyI saw a quote that said, “I’m exhausted from trying to be stronger than I feel.” And it really hit me; we live in a world that teaches things like “fake it till you make it” and “love heals all wounds” but the truth is that those lovely little phrases didn’t work for me. Pretending that I was fine and “believing” that LOVE would heal all wounds when the people who had done the wounding were telling me to “get over it” and “stop making such a big deal out of nothing” didn’t assist with the pain that I was in. It wasn’t until I realized what love really is that I was able to understand how love could heal my wounds. It wasn’t until I acknowledged where the exhaustion came from and how the wounds got there in the first place that I found healing.

I was exhausted too. I was exhausted from trying to be happy and from trying to be grateful for a life that seemed to be getting harder and harder. I was exhausted from being who other people wanted and expected me to be. I was exhausted from always trying harder and exhausted because nothing I did ever being enough.

I was exhausted because nobody heard me and because nobody cared that I was exhausted.

And I just couldn’t understand it. I believed that I might be the only person in the world that didn’t know how to make simple “gratitude” work for me; although I was practicing gratitude, it wasn’t working. I felt defeated. I felt stifled. I felt oppressed, I was weary and plain down to the bone tired. 

I believed that I had nothing to be unhappy about. And that made me feel guilty and ashamed of myself. I believed that I was living my dream; great husband, three amazing kids, ~ living on a huge farm/ranch with my own horses and the best dog in the world.

But I wasn’t happy. I was exhausted. 

I was 44 years old and heading into my 4th major depression since my first child was born. I was doing all the things I was told to do ~ I was getting outside every day, I was doing a little exercise, I was practicing gratitude, reading self help books, I was really trying but I kept falling down and getting back up was getting harder and harder.

I had been trying to be stronger than I felt for most of my life.

Trying to be grateful,

Trying to “let go” and “move on”

Trying to “Live and Let live”

Trying to “be me”

Trying to forgive people that denied they had ever done anything wrong. Trying to accept the blame for things that were never my fault, never my responsibility or my doing.

Trying and trying and trying… I was exhausted from trying.

Today I live in peace and harmony. I haven’t had a depression for over 10 years. I am excited to jump out of bed every morning and see what the day has in store for me. I love my work as a professional coach helping others find the freedom and wholeness that I found, teaching and sharing the ways that I found it. My kids are all grown up and have moved out of the house; they are all at different stages of beginning their adult lives but they come home often and there is a lot of laughter, love and celebration when they are home. We have real relationships based on mutual respect and equal value. My husband and have a partnership that is rarely experienced in a marriage spanning over 25 years.

So what happened? How did I get from exhausted to excited? How did I rebuild that missing bridge? How did I recover my self-esteem? How did I finally move forward in order to let go?

It turned out that I had been trying to put the cart before the horse.

I found a way to look at the roots of where the broken began. I looked at the truth about how I had been falsely defined by the actions and inactions of others. I realized that I had been objectified from a young age and it had been communicated to me though the careless actions and inactions of people that my purpose in life was to serve the needs of others. My actual needs were invalidated. I had been brainwashed to see myself as not enough, not worthy, not loveable because seeing myself that way enabled controlling and manipulative people to get what they wanted from me. I was exhausted because (as I was taught to do) I kept trying harder and it was never enough. I was exhausted from trying to prove that I WAS worthy, and that I WAS a good person, and while I believed that my heart was misunderstood, I was brainwashed to also believe that something was wrong with me.

I found a way to look at what happened to me. How did the depressions start? I realized my depressions were a way for me to shut down. They were like a fuzzy blanket of protection; a coping method just like the way that I dissociated was a coping method. Just like addiction is a coping method. And after years of coping I was running out of the will to cope. I was running out of the energy to keep trying. I was giving up on the road to conquering because I didn’t think there was actually a way to achieve it.

But there is a way. There is hope. And I found success! 

Finding a new way to see things enabled me to validate myself in all the areas and events that I had been invalidated. I found a new way to see myself. I found a new way to see my struggles and finally stated; “no wonder I was depressed! No wonder I was sinking! No wonder I felt like I was losing the fight!”

Because as long as I saw myself the way that I had been brainwashed to see myself, I WAS losing the fight! And the only way that I finally saw myself through the grid of truth about me was when I saw how I came to believe that I was not enough, that something was wrong with me, that I was somehow defective, that I was unworthy of love and that I was powerless and had no choice.

The TRUTH is that I HAVE a choice and when I saw myself through the lens of what happened to me, instead of through the lens of what is wrong with me, I was able to take my choice back.

I took my power back. I took my life back and I got ME back!

I have energy to spare today and I am free of the oppression that held me back for so very long.

And You can have this too!!

I started this website over 6 and a half years ago and today there are over 450 full articles about how I took my life back with comments in the discussions totaling almost 42,000! Thousands of people have read my e-book (see the side bar here) and I have received thousands of thank you notes. I have worked one on one (see the coaching and consults info page) with hundreds of people all over the world helping them find what I have found. I am driven by my passion to tell others this amazing discover that I made. If you are able, please help me spread this message of hope and healing by sharing through the social media buttons and please feel free to comment.

Join me on the Journey to Freedom!

Darlene Ouimet

Are you aware my of my e-book “Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing”? If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you and you would like to find out “HOW” I broke out of the oppression I lived in, this 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to busting out of the fog and to healing. I’ve received hundreds of thank you notes from people that have bought my book. Get yours here for 9.97 through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

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112 response to "Are You Exhausted from Trying to Be Stronger than You Feel?"

  1. By: robin Posted: 16th April

    I wrote in the search bar: “I’m so depressed I can hardly breathe.” and this is the website I came to. I don’t have enough energy to read much here, but it seems pretty good. thanks for doing this.

  2. By: David Finch Posted: 20th January

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  3. By: Jessie Posted: 6th June

    I found your blog about 6 years ago. It was after I moved 1/2 a country away from all my family with my husband and children. Your blog made me feel strength to give responsibility back to the people that made me responsible for things I had no business or ability being responsible for as a kid.

    It’s kind of weird, but I went to get your blog link for a friend that’s transforming and your blog post is here. It’s weird but whenever I come back here, your subject seems to be exactly what I need to hear.

    Six years after my first visit here and my career is finally starting. In the subject I love and I KNOW I’m great in.

    Thank you Darlene. You really have no idea how much you’ve been a shining light for me and how much it’s really helped me to find my way. Keep shining bright!

    Much love! <3

  4. By: callynt Posted: 18th May


    Your story is quite common with those who have emotionally and mentally abusive parents. I’m so sorry for what you’ve experienced, but again, you’re not alone…if that helps at all. My family’s mandate was to not upset my mother. So your father’s response to her behavior is not a surprise. These people don’t consider the awful behavior perpetrated by the abusers. They just think the people are being provoked in some way.

    I don’t blame you for wanting to cut or limit contact. It’s not my business, but I don’t think you should leave your children in their care. They will treat them the same as they have treated you.

  5. By: Sara Posted: 9th May

    I just came across your website and thank you so much for all the information and support you give.
    I have struggled all my life with abusive parents (especially verbally and especially my mother, but sometimes they were also physical abusive).
    I grew up in an unaffectionate family, where my parents never hugged or kissed me and my siblings (my mother just hugged and kissed my little brother, but it was more to prove that she possessed him, never to show any real feeling).
    Since I was the elder child my parents supposed that I had to help them to take care of my brother and sister, although I was still a child (when my brother was born I was 11, and with my sister I was just 4).
    Obviously I also had to be a model student, but nothing was ever enough.
    No matter how good I was (either at school and at home) my mother would have told me that I was bad, that I didn’t help her, that my grades weren’t enough good. Many time she called me in many names and my father was always supporting her, telling me that I had to put more efforts in what I did.
    I helped at home, I took care of my siblings also by doing things I wasn’t supposed to do (like taking them to the cinema or help them with their homeworks). I cleaned my clothes and my room and helped my mother in many houseworks but she kept saying I was bad, sometimes she just called me an asshole and when I pointed out that I suffer from that attitude she just said that I was pathetic, emotional, and I wanted to act the prima donna.
    Because of this I had many problems having friends but when I told my parents they told me each time that it was other children’s fault, as well as they said that my teachers were mean (although now I see that wasn’t true).
    By 12 I was already depressed and if it wasn’t for the movies I watched when they were out I wouldn’t be here by now. I’m now a successful film director, which for my parents (especially my mother) is not a real job.
    I have been very depressed many times in my life and when I was teenager I started becoming anorexic and threat my parents to kill myself. Honestly even today that I’m married with a wonderful man and I have two beautiful children, I think that I’d just want to die not to have to deal with my parents anymore.
    In all this story, my father just acted as the one who didn’t want to see what my mother did (for instance she once tried to suffocated me and shouted she hated me and my father told me to apologize to my mother, because I had provoked her). He also just wanted to control everyone’s life, so it was quite convenient for him that me and my siblings had a low self-esteem.
    Even today my parents try to control my life. They have done good things also, but every time it’s like if the good things were just a pretext to keep me under their control.
    Last summer I gave born to my twins and since I got pregnant my parents got actually mad. I live in another country with my husband and 6 years ago my parents helped us to buy a small apartment. Since I got pregnant it became clear that we needed a bigger house and immediately they asked us to give back a big sum they had given us to buy our first flat, although at that time they had said they didn’t need that money and we could keep it (they are quite wealthy so they actually didn’t need it). This house thing has been a total nightmare, since I spent the pregnancy having 2-3-4 calls a day from my father asking me for that money. We struggled to find a loan to repay them all the money while we were buying the new house.
    After that, my father, who works in construction, decided he would have done all the works in my new apartment but decided not to hire anyone and to do the job by himself and with the help of my husband without even asking if we agreed. He called my husband and me in many names during that period (that was just after our babies birth), just because we didn’t want to do in his way. Our needs and desires counted nothing and now we are remaking all the works because everything was made very bad and we just wasted money.
    In that period our children were also in intensive care unit, but that wasn’t important for my parents, since we just had to focus in the house works. When the children came home and we actually needed help they just left.
    In february we went to see them, after months of asking to see the children in their house (we are just one hour away by flight), and we spent 12 horrible days at their house. My mother yelled in front of the children many times, because she couldn’t stand people coming home to see the children, especially my grandmother. We could never leave them with the children, although they had said that we would have taken care of them. Basically we lost days of work (we are both freelancers) to show them the children when they wanted to see them but they never even had a walk with them (in 12 days my mother never left the house, not even to go to the grocery).
    So we decided that it’s not possible to come there again with the children. After the last time my mother yelled in front of the children, I told my father that I was responsible of my children’s life and I couldn’t allow anyone to yell in front of them. One the children was so scared that each time he saw my mom he cried.
    My father at first said he understood but then it was like it never happened.
    Ten days ago they called and said that they want to take the children to their place for a month on the next summer and obviously we said no. So two days ago we had a terrible fight after I tried to seek help of my sister and she just showed my messages to my father. My husband tried to speak to my father and my father insulted and yelled at him. My father said that if I feel depressed it’s not possible that it comes from them, that my husband is turning me against them and that I have mental problems.
    He then wrote me I disappointed he was and that I was creating problems and they never created problems. I was ungrateful and I didn’t want them to see the children (although they can come every time they want, we have repeated this many times).
    My mother then sent me an e-mail saying that she yells because she is tired (she doesn’t work and she has no one to take care of) and in any case that I don’t see how much she did for me, that it’s not good seeing a therapist as I’m doing since she tells me what I want to hear… So in the end she said she just was a much present mom and that maybe this was the problem. I answered calmly saying that I just wanted more affection and I don’t want my children to feel as I felt as a child and a teenager.
    I never got a reply.
    I honestly don’t want to call them and I’d just wanted they made me live my life. There’s a big part of me that feels the guilt of all this. This part says that I had to be nicer, that’s my fault, but I know that it’s just because they have manipulated me so much and they wanted me to fail in my life, just to keep controlling me. I know they are toxic parents and I’m so sorry not to be supported by my siblings who don’t see anything of what I see, or at least pretend not to see.
    My husband says I shouldn’t call them anymore, I don’t know what to expect. I’m afraid to call them, since I will be insulted and they will make me feel guilty and I don’t think I did anything wrong. I just wanted them to fix their problems before I went to visit them again. I know they will never see a therapist, but I can’t do much about that. It’s a shame they wasted the opportunity to have a relationship with me.

  6. By: Andria Posted: 5th April


    I hope you got a bit of a release from crying. I understand the darkness of depression. I am sorry that you cannot remember a time that you were not depressed. I am looking for joy in my life as well.

    I have found some healing here at EFB. I hope you can do the same.

  7. By: Becky Posted: 5th April

    I am crying as I read this short story. I live in the darkness of depression and have from as long as I remember. I am not young any more and I have gotten to a place where hope is fleeting and my reality seems to be without purpose and bereft of joy.

    I am weary and to use a term mentioned; the ‘fatigue’ is overwhelming at times. Maybe this is a place where I can find my way again.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 6th April

      Hi Becky
      Welcome to EFB ~ There is so much info here for you to choose from to support you on your journey! I have been where you are and there are over 450 articles here in this website (all with comments/discussions with others) about HOW I found my way. (and there is also my e-book available here too)
      Glad you are here! Thanks for sharing and hang in there!
      hugs, Darlene

  8. By: Andria Posted: 21st March


    My heart goes out to you. I understand about being the wrong one. I have been the wrong one in my FOO my whole life. I am sorry about your substance problem. All I know is try to find some supportive people any way that you can. You know you have to love yourself. That is one of the first steps.

  9. By: Jeanne Polehonki Posted: 20th March

    Well I just got a cold call from my mom telling me that she is going back to al-anon so she can deal with “things”. Things being me I’m sure. Well, she’ll get all the validation she’s done nothing wrong, that it’s all me. Lovely.

  10. By: Jeanne Polehonki Posted: 20th March

    I started drinking and using at 12yrs old, as soon as I could, just to deal with being abandoned by my father when I was 7 and getting beat by my cop brother till I was 14. I would do my best to stay gone from my house. At 15 1/2 and the first time I got picked up by the police, I was declared incorrigible, became a ward of the court and had to emancipate. I had my 16th and 17th b-days in juvenile hall waiting for a 9 month group home program. I didn’t get released till the day I turned 18. I drank on and off throughout the years, always trying to quit and stay quit. I’m 46 and still struggling. My family treats me like a loser, that chose my own path like they had nothing to do with it. I have loved them regardless of everything and have always been loving to them and their children. When people get sick and are dying in my family it’s me who takes care of them gladly because that’s what families do. I have no kids and never wanted them. I didn’t want to bring anyone else in the world and screw them up. My question is how are you supposed to love yourself enough to get clean and sober and stay that way alone?

  11. By: Andria Posted: 3rd March

    Thanks for the supportive words Nadia.

    Nadia and Megan,

    I am sorry for what you all are going through. It is tough being NC. Like Megan said, “not many people do it or can do it.” We should congratulate ourselves for being strong enough to go NC for our mental health. I understand that somedays it does not feel like we are strong. But please know that you are both very strong women with a steely determination. That is how I see it from here. Take good care ladies.

  12. By: Nadia Posted: 2nd March

    Thank You Megan. Please be safe . I’m not worried about being physically hurt, I just can’t handle the harsh accusations that I am selfish, dramatic, etc. My Dad was not verbally abusive and neither was my brother, until about 20 years ago. I don’t even know what I can call my mother. Toxic, narcissist, self centred. All I know is that I was never enough for her and that when I would try to confront her about it, she would throw accusations at me and spin around everything I said. My poor sweet Dad loved my mother and endured her behaviour. He tried so hard to make her happy but it was never enough. I Wanted it to work. I hate that my kids don’t have a relationship with their Grandmother anymore or their Uncle. I had to protect myself this time. I couldn’t go back and try again. I had no more fight left in me.
    Sorry for venting. It’s been a rough week.
    Wishing you all the best Megan. Take care of yourself.

  13. By: Nadia Posted: 2nd March

    Hi Andria. You are right about that. It is always about they are not willing to see both sides of the story. They are not willing to hold themselves accountable for anything they may have contributed to the demise of the relationship. They only see their side. Hang in there Andria.

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