Disclaimer: Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals as well as the author.
What if I was destined to remain in my cycle of trying, failing, and suffering? As I attended therapy, sought a better path in life and read as many books as I could to get some understanding of myself and what I was going through, I was making progress, but it took a while. There were sleepless nights in which I would wake up and look at the ceiling, asking myself: “why isn’t this working?” Some days went by, in their entirety, fatigued and avoiding painful thoughts. It was one skill at a time: learning mindfulness, and to feel the real and present moment and halting the rabbit-hole of anxious thoughts; learning to identify my defenses and to be vulnerable in front of others in order to connect with people close to me. When I knew when I succeeded at something and learned something I looked for something else to work on.
It was a very long process but the process itself taught me something about life: that it will never be without the responsibility to adapt to and cope with the changes and challenges that continually arise—that I am tasked to continually grow as a person, which is something that does not come naturally but which takes the effort. It seemed so difficult, but I told myself that this is a responsibility everyone has—I was not alone. I was not the only one feeling this feeling; there are a plethora of people every night trying to put their selves to sleep, trying to avoid intrusive and painful thoughts, and, like me, not doing so good a job. What was important was that I was trying, and I moved toward accepting the length of time it would take to grow and to find a more permanent stability.
This largely involved the kinds of people I hung around. There was a café I used to frequent and where the majority of my social network existed. After my therapist advised me of a tactic in identifying positive and negative people in my life I decided to start there. I was to have an interaction or conversation, and then pay close attention in the hour following to see how I felt emotionally—whether enlivened, drained, or whatever came up. I unfortunately found that most of the time I felt exhausted, except for but two friends. And so I deliberately invested my time to them as opposed to the others. This was not easy though. It was not easy to say goodbye to people who were my friends, and one of the toughest things I have ever had to accept was that it was, regardless, necessary for my well-being. Some were angry, but it was, and is all of our right to choose the people we let into our lives as that plays so large a role when it comes to the people we ourselves will become.
It is difficult to see a clear change sometimes, but for me—though it took around two years—I recognized it suddenly while looking back. For so long I had my head down doing whatever I thought would make a person emotionally strong, empathic and healthy and I had rarely given myself the opportunity to look back; when I did, it was there. I had grown, and I could not remember the last sleepless night, the last agonizing day I had to endure. Above all, I felt love for myself, an obligation to take care of myself and the people I loved, no matter what it took. I had purpose, I had strength, and I finally felt the sensation that comes in fathoming a future filled with happiness.
To be continued…
To View Overcoming Depression: Part 1 click here
Written by: Arthur Westbrook
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