(Not) Caring

There are very few things in life that I care about now. Very few. I guess its a part of growing up. You figure out what really matters and what doesn’t. But I think I’ve gone a little overboard.

I think I used to care a little too much. And I’ve spent the past few years distancing myself from feelings. I thought that they made me weak. I thought that if I were to become apathetic to everything, than I would be impenetrable.

But its impossible not to feel. At least its impossible for me. Because I still obsess. I obsess and I obsess. And I hurt. Not for the things that used to consume me. But for the things that I have found to truly matter to me. And it makes this hurt so much more intense. Because I know its real.

It’s a good thing. And a bad thing. I need to learn how to deal with my emotions in a healthy way. I need to stop going to extremes. Because there is really no good end to this.

Surprises

I’ve been off antidepressants for nearly a month now. And its been kind of a wild ride. I first went on about a year ago after my anxiety debilitated me to the point that I constantly thought I was having a heart attack and I couldn’t sleep every night for fear that I was going to die in my sleep. Despite a chest x-ray and an EKG, I visited the doctor’s office or the health center at least once a week with a different ailment in my head. I finally succumbed to medication, and it really made a difference.

Of course there were the side effects. I was numb, emotionless, I couldn’t concentrate. When I wasn’t in class or even if I was, I was asleep. But I stopped constantly believing I was on the edge of death, and honestly, it was worth it. My anxiety vanished.

The only problem was that I simply didn’t care anymore. I didn’t care about my grades which I had previously lived for, I didn’t care about what I did with my body. And I became really impulsive. This continued until I nearly failed all of my midterms, and I saw that something had to change. At this point, I lowered my dosage slightly and more or less coasted to where I am now, not in a particularly successful way, but at least I made it.

I finally decided I needed to stop. I was sick of wasting my life sleeping all the time and honestly, I hated being dependent on medication and I was willing to do whatever it took to stop. I was worried that I would spiral into a depression, that my anxiety would again debilitate me, but I wanted to have control again.

So here’s what happened: I spent a few weeks more depressed than I have ever been. I considered cutting again and I spent more time crying than not. My anxiety came back too, slowly but surely, and I had one of my worst panic attacks ever. But I started caring again. I found myself truly smiling and being genuinely happy for the first time in months. My foggy thoughts disappeared and I was able to think clearly and logically. And lately, I’ve found myself experiencing really deep emotions, the gut wrenching tearing up in a good way kind. And caring. Really and truly caring. My anxiety continues and every day I still have moments when I’m certain that I’m about to have a heart attack or my eardrum’s about to burst (which is a whole nother issue), but its no longer constant, and I’ve been able to talk myself through the situation.

It’s taken a really long time to get here, but I’m finally starting to feel like me again. Not just a shell walking through life, but a person that really and truly cares. I’ll always be a work in progress and I know that with all that’s going on in my life I may still face some very large obstacles in my near future. But here, right now, in this moment, I’m satisfied. And that’s what matters.

This is my experience and it is in no way universal, but have hope. Sometimes, its all you can count on.

Let it all in

 everybody want happiness nobody wants pain but you can't have a rainbow without a little rain

When hurt and pain approach us, our first instinct is to avoid it, to shove it somewhere deep and hidden where it can’t bother us. No one wants to feel these negative emotions, but they are such an important part of the experience of living.

I believe that those who experience the strongest emotions lead the fullest lives. Consider Van Gogh, Beethoven, Virginia Woolf, who accomplished so much not in spite of, but because of the pain that they experienced. I’m not saying that I envy that lifestyle nor that one ought to lead a life of negativity; however, there is a reason that emotions like these exist. Painful emotions help us explore parts of ourselves and to feel things more deeply than ever before. And when it is all over, we can experience and appreciate our positive emotions with the same ferocity.

One of my favorite articulations of this idea stems from a scene in Louie, a slightly dark comedy through which I have actually learned some fairly deep life lessons. After Louis’ love interest moves away, he is in a world of pain. His insightful neighbor remarks: “This is the good part. This is what you’ve been digging for this entire time. The bad part is when you don’t care about her. When you don’t care about anything. The bad part is coming so enjoy the heartbreak while you can.”

Don’t be afraid to embrace the pain. Don’t beat yourself up because you aren’t strong enough to block it out. Love yourself because you’re strong enough to take it in.