the light

The darkness started in November. No, it was before that. But I made the first cut in November. And it took me 4 months to stop. And I really thought that I would be dead before I made it here. Because it hurt to wake up. And to get out of bed. And to go to work.

It hurt to smile. And to talk to people. To spend every second of every day lying.

It felt like my mind was drowning and treading water all the damn time. Never quite reaching the surface.

I didn’t think I would make it here.

It’s one thing to be alive. It’s another to live. I’ve felt joy in the past week. Real joy. Not the plastic smile I’ve worn across my face for the past eight months, crying in whatever private space I could find. But that bubbling feeling in my chest, the one that can’t be contained.

I didn’t even recognize it at first.

And I kept up the motions. Waking up at 5:30am to put in a 12 hour day because it took me twice as long to get everything done. Riding Ubers to the office because I didn’t trust myself behind the wheel. I didn’t know where I would go. Or what I would do. The temptations I had, I could never say out loud.

The only moments with relief were when I drew blood. And for a brief moment, I could feel again. Better yet, I couldn’t feel anything else.

I stopped cutting four months ago. And this week, for the first time, I was happy. It still feels surreal. I’m proud to have made it here. But I still feel like I got lucky, and I don’t know how to reconcile that. Because what if I don’t make it out one day?

Someone today told me “its nice to see you smile again”. I don’t know why it felt so good. But I think I was glad someone said it out loud.

Striving to be

I’m at a place now where instead of choosing to be alive, I’m looking to choose to be happy. I honestly didn’t expect to make it here and I’m terrified that I’m still teetering on the edge, but seeing that option in front me is comforting. It’s a visible step forward.

Things are still hard, but in a different way. Over the past couple of months, I’ve gradually cut more and more people out of my life. I could barely manage the everyday interactions I was having, so I canceled plans, I stopped responding to messages, I spent as much time by myself as I could. Now that I’m finally ready to stop moping around, I’m finding myself unusually alone.

Its not the worst problem in the world to have though. Part of where I am now is little by little understanding the things that take me to a dark place, working not to overreact, and striving to be happy regardless of circumstance. Because I can’t guarantee that my life won’t sink to shit ever again and I want to be ready.

I’m not quite there yet, but having the option in front of me means that I’m moving forward. Here’s hoping I continue in that direction.

Sundays

I wake up on Sundays with my heart racing, a pit in my stomach.

It’s a habit now.

Another week is coming, but what have I accomplished this week? What have I accomplished this weekend? The obsessions never stop.

Things have settled down now. I know I’m on the upswing, but cycles of anxiety grasp at every thought. The meaningless worries, which used to sit in the back of my mind, seem to have nestled in and made their home. No amount of mental power will make them budge.

I’m trying to take things one step at a time. To appreciate the glimpses of light in every day, but I can’t help but dwell on the negatives. My brain seems to wander in search of the tiniest anxieties I’ve been running around to avoid. Last week, I couldn’t breathe. I thought my asthma had finally heard about LA smog. But it was just anxiety. I guess my subconscious knows, because the nightmares haven’t stopped in weeks. Swarming me every night and with every nap. Ironic since sleeping is how I used to avoid the world.

I’ll be patient.

I’ve gotten to the point where the me I’m trying to hide doesn’t slip out as often. I walk around with smiles, suspiciously positive retorts to the day old “how are you?” Things are seemingly back to normal. And I haven’t cut in a month. But every second of every day still feels like a war. To not get sucked in again, and to forgive myself when I do.

Sundays though. Sundays I aim for survival. Sundays I don’t make plans because I don’t know if I can live up to them, but when the day comes, the loneliness settles in. I walk around with a tightness in my chest, an urge to throw everything up. Sundays I despise, but secretly wish would continue forever.

Today, I’m remembering to breathe, be patient, and practice a little bit of metta.

Recovery

Recovery feels like finally realizing that the sun is behind the clouds and that its been there all along. But it’s not the same thing as seeing the sun.

Recovery is acknowledging that your life is worth it and fighting like hell every second to remember that. Refusing the vicious thoughts and temptations you used to rely on. Resisting the ease of slipping into a dark hole and lying there because it’s easier not to get up.

Recovery is struggling to remember that there is good in every moment even if you can’t see it right now. It’s being grateful for the ten minutes of every day that you have a smile on your face and it’s real.

But that sinking feeling in your chest is still there. Once in awhile it gets a little bit lighter, but you know that it’s there. You have to remember that those dark habits you relied on have consequences. So now before you reach for your razor, you stop, you breathe, count to ten, think of alternatives. You remember that people care. You remember that you should care.

Recovery is knowing that the sun is there, but fighting every second just to catch a glimpse. And every time you lose sight of it, you’re filled with terror.

Forgive yourself. Be kind. Be patient. Someday, every day will be filled with sun.

Don’t Wait to be Happy

Not too long ago, I found myself a complete and utter failure down in the depths of despair. Being abroad had done a number on my body and my soul. And, as I began looking for internships to apply to, I realized that my once flawless transcript had become something that I was less than proud to call mine. I found myself on a college campus with no idea who I was and beyond that, I was more or less utterly alone. To summarize, I was a self-pitying, depressed pile of poop.

Now because I was still on a positivity kick blah blahblah. Here’s what I told myself. In fact, this is what I wrote on tumblr:

I keep thinking that because i’m a failure today, i’m going to continue being a failure for the rest of my life. but then i remember how much has changed over the past year. How much i’ve changed. And i have a little sliver of hope, that maybe if i start changing things little by little in the right direction, in a year or two from now, i’ll be a completely different person. but this time it’ll be for the better. Who i am now isn’t who i’m going to be forever.

So basically, its okay to feel negatively about myself because one day, I’m not going to be this person anymore. And that’s the problem. Why wait for the future? I feel like we do so much of that. I will be happy when I get into college. I will be happy when I graduate and get a job. I will be happy when I lose 10 pounds. I will be happy when I get married and have children. I will be happy when I retire and have all the time in the world.

Looking back, I have rarely ever been satisfied or happy with where I was. Sometimes for a brief moment or two. Like the day I returned from Japan, proud of what I had accomplished and delighted to finally have a bed and my own room and functional legs. But this satisfaction never lasts. I am always left wanting more.

But I have discovered that there can be positivity in every moment, but sometimes it is harder to find than others. Take right now for instance. I wouldn’t say my life is particularly in order. And if asked, I could list infinite things that I are horrible right now. I feel more alone now than I’ve ever been before, but its also hard to say for certain. It’s easy to be negative, to pinpoint things that you wish could improve even if you believe that they will. But that doesn’t really do any good. Instead, I choose to breathe, take my stress in stride, be proud who I am. It doesn’t mean I can’t look to the future. It just means that I can also look to the now and be happy with where I am on my journey.

I’m writing this because I often see posts where people talk about how their lives are going fantastically now: they are married, expecting their first child, and have their dream job, when only five years ago, they were severely depressed and self-harming. And these posts are wonderful no doubt, they give people hope, hope to keep living because of the prospect of such a future. But it doesn’t address the depression that people are in now. The depression that sucks someone in because their life actually is in shambles, because they feel alone and abandoned and like a complete failure. And I wish someone had told me that none of these things make you a failure. That everybody experiences these feelings no matter how complete they look on the outside. And that you don’t have to wait for things on the outside to get better in order to be happy on the inside. Because these things do not make a person a failure, it makes them human, a little too human.

I know this isn’t really a complete thought because I’m still learning myself how to be happy with who I am right now. But its just a thought. Yes, things will get better. But that doesn’t mean that things right now are bad. You are not a failure. You are a success for living and for being brave enough to keep going.

Reminders for Me

Wrote this a while back. Reminders for the bad days and the good…

1. Things won’t always be this way. If you put in a little bit of work each day, things will get better. Doing that one little thing each day that’s a challenge for you will go a long way, but know that it will take time. Nothing is instantaneous.

2. Don’t worry about things you can’t control. Focus on doing what you can do in the moment. That’s how you get where you’re going. Things happen. They aren’t your fault. They’re part of circumstance, or fate, and bad things happen to everyone. Don’t look back, look to the now.

3. Don’t compare yourself to anybody else. Anyone else at all. You don’t know who they are, or what they’ve been through. Misery loves company, but looking around doesn’t help you at all. Nobody has a perfect life, no matter what it looks like. But you can’t understand or see someone else’s pain.

4. Things move up and down. Remember that. Having a good day? Take it all in. Having a bad day? Know that that’s all it is. A bad day. And when that happens, take every chance you get to start over. There’s no reason your day has to stay bad.

5. Don’t give up. Don’t give up for that day in the future when you can look back and see what you’ve become, but always remember what it took to get there.

6. No one has a perfect life, but the people who are truly happy being themselves? It wasn’t an easy journey getting there. Happiness isn’t a matter or whose life is better. It’s dependent on perspective and outlook. The hurt that you are experiencing now? It’s all part of your journey in getting there. Don’t ever think that its a waste of life. Nothing is a waste of life. Everything leads you somewhere, and wherever you are, its where you are supposed to be.

7. Always be appreciative of yourself and the things that are going well for you. Its easy to be dismissive, to focus on the negative because they seem so horrible, but give yourself credit, affirm yourself. That’s worth more than anything else in the world.

When you feel like giving up

When the world seems like its crushing you into tiny bits and bits. When you don’t have the will to get up in the morning. When everything hurts. When you’re alone. When you forget what it feels like to not feel like this. When its too hard just to exist. When you feel like giving up…

Remember how strong you are. How hard you’ve fought to get to where you are now. Remember that each challenge you’ve overcome makes you that much stronger. Smile because you’ve made it through another day. Remember that it won’t always be this way. Know that there is happiness waiting in your future.

Think about how great it is to feel the sunlight on your face. To close your eyes and listen to your favorite song. To have a heartfelt conversation with someone who understands you. To be given a tight warm hug. To lie naked in bed snuggled under the sheets. To sit at home and listen to the rain patter on the window. To go on a long walk to nowhere. To remember that you’ve made it through another day.

Smile. Breathe. Know that everything is okay. Because you’re here right now. This is your life. The possibilities are endless.

When you feel like giving up.

Don’t.