After being inspired through talk therapy, avidly reading, heavily self-reflecting and evaluating my life situations, I finally feel ready to share this story with the world.
On the outside, someone’s life might appear to be flawless and filled with a surplus of joy. When social media focuses on the highlights of someone’s life, it creates an alternate reality, an illusion to the public. That pseudo reality is then perpetuated even further when people fail to show their pain, their vulnerability, their innate humanness. Sadly, this is how many people deliver themselves to the world. I was one of those people.
While the surface level of life may seem glorious, what’s really hidden underneath is anything but. People will run over to sign your cast if you have a broken bone, but if you have a broken heart, people run the other way. Negative energy, such as this, only provides more negativity to the one that is suffering…as if they aren’t suffering enough already.
Just like any addiction, depression stems from the refusal to deal with one’s own emotional pain. To mask it and save it for another time seems so much easier. But after a while, it completely consumes you. Every thought throughout the day is focused on persistent negativity. There is no one or no thing in this world that will ever make you happy at this point. No matter how many people you try to get to feel sorry for you, the only person that can get you out of this bottomless pit is you.
And I say bottomless because pain feeds off pain. The more pessimistic thoughts you have, the more pain you feel. The more you talk about how sad you really are, the further down you will sink. It’s unfortunate that in order for people to aim for a real change, they ultimately have to drown to realize they can’t handle the pain any longer.
How much more pain do you possibly need before succumbing to the idea of happiness? For most people, they need to hit rock bottom. People will never change unless they feel they have to. It is not until they suffer the most excruciatingly painful emotions that the real change will ever happen. When you are in the most fatally destructive emotional state, and there is no further to fall other than the thought of ending it all right there and then, there is nowhere to go but up. Depression will continue as a never-ending cycle of misery and emotional destruction unless you make the choice to be happy.
Speaking from my own personal journey, I know this is possible but it is much easier said than done. As someone who was a prisoner to depression for six years, I get it. I get the lack of motivation. I get the constant waiting for something good to happen. I get the feeling that you are alone in the world. I get the feeling that nothing will ever get better. I get the constant sadness and sulking in your own pain, just wanting people to feel sorry for you. I get the gut-wrenching twist that makes you sick to your stomach each time you cry alone in your room. I get the desire to just end everything because feeling nothing sounds better than feeling the sadness that consumes you everyday. But now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I get that too.
Happiness stems from unhappiness. Only the illusion of time will separate one extreme from the other. When I finally decided that I couldn’t handle being weak and in pain for any longer, it was then I realized I did not want to die. I didn’t want to miss out on what life had to offer me. I did not want to miss out on the possibility of happiness entering my life. I didn’t want to end it all. I just wanted to get better.
The journey to recovery is so horribly painful. Making the choice to end your depressive state requires a complete renovation of your current truths. For many people, depression defines them because it completely takes over their life. It’s all they’ve come to know about themselves for so long, and it’s all they are familiar with now. The light is too unfamiliar for someone who wants to linger in the dark. But as long as you let depression define you, you will never break free of its grasp. It will continue to escape the life from you until you finally give in.
After six years of absolute emotional destruction, I finally threw my hands up and said “I’m done.” I gave up. I surrendered to my depression. For six years, I let it take over and ruin some of what was supposed to be the best years of my life. I let my emotions show through where they shouldn’t have been seen. I let my depression affect every decision I made. I let it define me. By choosing to live in your depression, you are choosing to be sad. You have the choice of using your challenges to grow from or drown you further.
Emotions are not meant to have long life spans. They are meant as a momentary reaction to something. But if you continue to focus on the bad things in life, that emotion will completely overturn your life for a very long time.
For years I avoided my pains and covered them up with unhealthy habits, denial, and sought temporary happiness in corrupt relationships. I refused to face my pains or even acknowledge that I had any. For six years, I jumped from relationship to relationship, seeking acceptance and desire from another human being. I sought approval from people that had no business being a part of my life. I surrounded myself with momentary fixes that really ended up making the pain worse. I would constantly tell myself that all I wanted was to be happy. After talking through my troubles, I came to the realization that I did not want it badly enough. I was not so far down the pit of depression where I felt a change was needed. Instead, I bottled everything up and continued to sit in the dark, where I was comfortable… where I knew and understood the world I lived in: a completely dark and shredded realm where no one can give you the strength to venture out of.
After experiencing the most painful heartbreak of my life, every negative thought I had collected inside me, detonated. I realized that I needed to learn to love myself before I could honestly say that I was better. I needed to find what was causing me so much pain… and I had to dig deep.
The process of bettering myself was the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life. Nothing in the world mattered at that point because there was absolutely nothing that could have happened that would have put me in a worse place than I was emotionally.
After years of dealing with being bullied, living in an emotionally abandoned home, constant filtering of ‘friends’, and being absolutely destroyed by the ending of a relationship I valued more than anything else in the world, I was finally face to face with my demons. There was nowhere else I could hide. As painful and as frightening as I knew it would be to talk about things that had made me uncomfortable and broken for so long, I knew I had to do it. If I wanted to be happy, and this time I really did want it, I knew I had to. The longer I waited, the more painful it would be. It’s just too bad it took me six years to realize that.
I completely changed my environment, placed myself around new people that weren’t toxic to my well-being, engaged in extracurricular activities that would keep my mind occupied and away from bad thoughts, started seeing a therapist, and started reading…a lot.
The change of environment gave me a fresh start. New place, new people, and a new chance to start over and rebuild the wall that came crashing down. Being around positive people who gave off nothing but good vibes also helped. Their good energy was absorbed into me whenever I was around them.
I started exercising a lot to help boost my mood, did a lot of journaling, started crafting more, and immersed myself in other activities that would keep me away from being alone with my negative thoughts.
Then, I started reading. I read articles online for self-help in dealing with depression, articles that gave genuine life tips on how to love yourself and know when you are surrounded by good company, articles that helped me determine that I am not alone in my feelings of emotional desertion, and so on. I printed out every article that made the light flicker on in my head and collectively placed them in a binder so I could reference back to them whenever I am feeling alone.
I also started reading fiction novels by Chuck Palahniuk, who quickly stole my heart. He completely changed my entire perspective on relationships. That may sound strange, but it makes sense, I promise. By being immersed in the stories he wrote, I placed myself in the characters shoes and realized how many different life choices were available to live. It made me realize there are so many types of people in the world, how could I possibly keep flocking back to the same destructive type? His immaculate vocabulary made me realize that whomever I end up with for the long haul needs to be smart. They need to have interests they are truly passionate about. They need to have enough in common with me, and act as a compliment to my interests. Someone who motivates me to be better. Someone that lets me shine on my own but also makes us shine together. Until that certain someone comes along, I am working on me. I am working towards loving myself enough to be alone and stand independent of another person. It is crazy to think how much reading can actually benefit someone, particularly when the story has nothing to do with the reader’s life. For me, it was more about engaging in a solitary activity and being perfectly happy doing something on my own. I would sit for hours at a time and knock out books left and right, completely engrossed in the world of Chuck Palahniuk’s fiction. The more stories I read, the more alone time I wanted to read more of his work… it is a huge part of what taught me to love being by myself.
Recently, the road to recovery has been nothing but enjoyable now that the hardest part is over. Letting the tears roll out and spending countless hours venting and being face-to-face with my most disparaging demons has allowed the toxins to escape my body. My life has become encased with a blissful serenity of weightlessness. I am finally free from the imprisonment of my demonic depression. I can finally honestly say I am happy to be alone. I am happy doing things for me and only me. I do not need anyone’s affirmation. As long as I am content with a decision, I do not need anyone else’s approval. One of the beautiful parts of growing up is learning to re-parent yourself. I can re-learn values and determine what I think is right for my own life. I can learn to love myself to the point where I don’t need to seek it from someone else.
After my collective heartaches condemned me to rock bottom, I’ve realized that it is so much easier to just be happy. There is nothing so serious to disturb my ecstasy that I cannot conquer and overcome. My view on life is all around peaceful. I am finally happy in my own skin, as just me. I am finally learning to love myself despite what anyone thinks. I finally learned that I am all I need without the approval and acceptance of those that do not have a place in my life.
Part of this acceptance came from not only talking through my troubles and exercising my mind to condition it differently, but also from gaining the strength to forgive all those who hurt me. I had to also forgive myself for allowing myself to ultimately rot in the dark for so long. I accepted the pain and heartache and used them to build me up rather than destroy me as before.
Unfortunately for many people suffering depression, no matter how many articles you read about overcoming sadness, no matter how many people give you advice, you will never change unless you make the effort to do so. Sitting alone with your sadness and thinking about how sad you are about your life situations will only make it worse, even if it is all you know. Overcoming this addiction is a profound and enlightening experience. Going through self-help, engaging in things that kept me busy and kept my mind active, working towards career goals, keeping up with hobbies that truly made me exultant, and learning to be happy on my own have all given me the knowledge that happiness is a choice. The other side is so much more beautiful and blissful. I can’t think of a time in my life where I have ever been more mentally and emotionally stable. I have never been happier and more content with life. I see the world differently. My perception before was deeply skewed and manipulated in a way that made everything look dull and unappealing. Now I can walk outside and think of how beautiful it is to be alive and well.
Going through something so traumatic can be of such great value and provide you with the most indispensable knowledge to blossom from.
The most indispensable knowledge is not commonly accessible. I’m so thankful to be able to say I was able to get a hold of it, and it will never be unlearned.