The last 3 months of my life have has been host to the craziest chain of events I could possibly imagine.
Now, let me start by saying I am not the kind of person that easily accepts help and admits that I need it to others. I have always been an independent person having only a handful of people to trust with my full emotions, and I do whatever I can to look like I am 100% in control of my emotions and hectic life.
The idea of me being in control was always laughable to me. I never had any control in what I was doing. It was like being dragged behind a boat trying to water ski and never gaining balance so you just struggle not to drown as you skim the top of the water like a rock being skipped across the surface. Somehow I fooled people, though. I looked like I wasn’t a giant mess of person barely managing to wear anything other than dirty sweatpants and oversized t-shirts.
I don’t know about you, but it’s exhausting to pretend to be okay when you’re not. A constant checklist for the day and evaluation of being a normal person consuming your thoughts:
- Does this makeup cover the fact that I haven’t slept?
- Is that sarcastic comment too transparent?
- Could they tell I meant it when I joked about hating myself?
- Did that “I’m okay/great/fine/etc.” sound convincing enough?
- Can they tell I have barely eaten in days?
- Does this plan of action distract from the fact when it’s done I’m lost?
- Can they tell I don’t know what to do with my future?
- Do they really like me?
- What if they are just pretending to be my friend?
This checklist never getting smaller, never getting easier, never being helpful, consumed 75% of my day…on a good day. That kind of self-induced stress, that self-imposed pressure, that self-inflicted pain, can wear down even the best pretender.
It has been 82 days, 9 hours, 41 minutes and some seconds since I had my butt dragged to the hospital and treated for my major depressive and having a generalized anxiety disorder. The following days there were not fun, they were relieving, but fun, they were not.
I was naive to think that was the answer and fix to my issues…oh no, it was the beginning of a long process. One that took time, sacrifice, and more introspection than anyone with as much self-hatred as I had could imagine.
Since the day I left, I took time off school, read some books, watched a lot of movies, and in short, distracted myself from fully gaining that healing I needed. You can’t heal if you keep ripping the stitches out of the wound before it’s ready.
That’s when it hit me. Spending 4 hours at a Chick-fil-a shuffling tarot cards, sending in job applications, contemplating where I was a year ago, thinking about the advice from the most insightful young lady (Isabelle), and wondering why I wasn’t healed yet, I got an answer. In this time off, I hadn’t thought about what I wanted, I didn’t believe in myself, and I was stuck worrying what everyone else thought and had to say about me.
I was poisoning my recovery. I was spending every moment looking at what I was “supposed” to be doing. Seeing the timeline I was “supposed” to have followed. Watching people get the jobs I was “supposed” to be ready for. Witnessing the success of the people that I started with that I was “supposed” to be sharing. So many supposed to’s, but none of them want to’s.
It became clear to me in my many hours talking with my therapist, that I wasn’t moving forward because I was stuck in my theoretical life of timelines and dates and social obligation that no longer applied to me. It was like that rhyme about the bump on a log…or was it something to do with Mr. Frog? Anyway, it doesn’t matter. I wasn’t doing anything to fix my problem, I was waiting for it to be fixed for me. (spoiler alert: no one else can fix you)
So where do I go from here? Well, I think one answer to that is I go dark. I abandon the social media that is keeping me from moving from the rock on the side of the path. Social media is so great for living vicariously through others, that you can stop living your own life. It’s a life of superficial happiness, validation through the likes of strangers, and quizzes to tell you what kind of pizza you are. Social media is so great…when you know who you are. But in order to find myself, for the first time since I was 14, I am going to get off social media (I will still log on to post pictures of my cats though and you can’t stop me). This may only be a small step but the first step in any journey isn’t usually leaps and bounds. It’s baby steps until you gain your balance.
None of the decisions in my recovery have been made lightly. The hardest thing to do was leave school I loved, the closest friends I had, and this little security blanket of excuses, and find out what I needed to be myself again, so that person I was pretending to be could be more real. It was like taking a knife to your favorite stuffed animal or burning your hand on a hot iron after you stabbed your eye with an eyeliner pencil and got mascara on your nose. It was hard. It is still hard. And it will continue to be hard, until one day it’s not. But to get to my one day, I have to start today.