Two months ago, I was beyond repair. I was done with this world and everything in it. I’ve suffered from chronic depression all my life, but these last two years have been especially challenging. It was not one thing that happened or went wrong, it was over two years of progressive pain that pinnacled.
Over the last two years I experienced some major life changing events. I lost my job. I was ostracized from several groups. I lost friends and family. I made poor choices. My heart was broken. I dealt with overwhelming feelings of failure, heartbreak, regret, and guilt. As a result, I progressively neglected my health and appearance. I neglected my education, ambition, and work ethic.
Those who were there have heard the stories, and those who weren’t don’t need to.
This post isn’t about the hurt; it is about the repair.
I thought I was stronger than I was. I thought I was over one situation and ready to tackle the next. And I did. Head first, I jumped into challenge after challenge believing I was ready for the disappointment and hurt that would eventually come.
In reality, my initial wounds never healed. I denied I needed to be patched up and instead of mending the hurt, I hid it, untreated, resulting in a much larger and far more deadly infection. I learned if you do not allow yourself to heal, or deny the idea that healing is necessary, you will be less prepared for the next bombardment.
Over time, I became weaker and weaker until I hit an ultimate breaking point.
I know in the great big world of starvation, war, hate, bigotry, my sorrows are minute. But that knowledge only makes me feel less needed and more unworthy of the gifts this life has to offer.
Can’t I sacrifice my world, everything I have worked for, everything I have obtained to someone more deserving? To someone who can actually enjoy the world and not just muddle their way through it.
I have been recovering for a little over a month now. I have a new doctor and a new prescription. I have made some important lifestyle changes, including cutting out negative influences and being more responsible with my choices professionally and in recreation.
I did not deal with each issue as it occurred, but instead stored it away, unexpressed, unexplored, and, when a new stress arouse, I piled it on the last one. I had to go very far back and treat the first cut, before I could even begin to understand the significance of all those laid upon it.
I learned a great deal over the last couple of years about myself, my friends, and the world. I am still learning. We are all still learning. These experiences, recognitions, and acknowledgements are how we learn.
What I Learned
I learned that when you allow yourself to be open and vulnerable, there are people who will come to your aid. Whether it is through supportive words, encouraging messages, drunken conversations, or playful pop ins, people do care. These may be close friends who assure you they still believe in you or fledgling acquaintances who are capable of offering comfort. Even strangers can often relate to your pain and will empathize with you. There is much kindness out there.
As a strong independent woman, not only is it difficult to admit any weakness, but it is near impossible to ask for help. Accepting that help or god forbid seeking that help, demonstrates dependency and that is unacceptable. Only, it’s not. Those who care about you will be more than willing to help, whether it is a ride, a four hour long text conversation, or doing a load of dishes for you. Getting help with the little things will make you stronger for confronting the large things. It will also keep your focus on the actual issues as opposed to breaking into tears because you haven’t had time to fold the laundry.
I learned that life is full of little pleasure. There is great joy in living in the moment. Do not regret the pleasure and fun you have. Of course you can always learn from the repercussions. If you drank too much and are hurting the next day, do not regret the experience, learn from it. Keep in mind the consequences for the next time you have temptation. Know the price, but do not regret what has past.
I learned I am incredibly accommodating to many people in my life. I bend my schedule, my priorities, and my expectations. I often put myself last in order to please those around me, even those who are not that important to me in the grand scheme of my world. Having the ability to say, No, or to allow others to accommodate you, is not a weakness. The people I respect most in this world have the ability to stand up for themselves, to ask for what they want, and to not be pushed or manipulated into people pleasing. Why shouldn’t I adopt their practice. I will always have trouble putting myself first, but I am getting better at it.
Unfortunately I also learned people are ready and willing to exploit your grief for their own purposes. Regardless of how much you care about a person or how much they care about you, if you allow someone to take advantage of you, they will. If you allow people to believe it is alright to treat you a certain way, they will continue to treat you that way. It is does not make them bad people, nor does it make you a doormat. It is a learned behavior and a behavior you have allowed. The only way to make it stop is to no longer allow it. Stand up for yourself and once you do, do not cave and return to old practices.
We all learn differently and we all have our own needs and priorities. Our individuality gives us the capacity to learn what is most important to us. The same experience will reflect uniquely to each person and we will all take away lessons specific to us. We want to learn and reflect and heal, and as we work our way through this life, we will be given the opportunities to find that insight and ability.
Most people will not have the inclination to read this entire blog. But I learned that the healing comes from the writing, not from the validation of others. I learned that the people who are supposed to read these words will and it is not for me to decide who those people are.
I want to thank those who have helped me though the last two years. I want to thank those who pulled me out of rock bottom these last few months. I want to thank you for the lessons, the good and the bad. The ones I have learned from. The ones I had to commit over and over before their lessons made it through my thick skull. The ones I am still learning.
I am not expecting to be completely back on my feet, but I do think I am doing better. I know what I still need to do and what I still need to work on. I know what I want and I have a pretty good idea of how to get it.
I am grateful for this most recent reeducation and I am open and willing to continue to have more experiences. After all, this is how we learn.