If you were to pull up my google search engine history six months ago, it would be overflowing with different versions of the same search:
“Success stories depression”
“Love after a break up”
“How to be more confident”
“How to love yourself”
“Does it ever get better?”
“Beating low self esteem, depression, anxiety…”
The Facebook cookies that troll our google searches had a field day that month.
So for all of you desperately searching for a glimmer of hope, digging through reddit or blogs that can relate, this post is for you.
It does get better.
Does it ever go away forever? The negative whispers in your head when you say something stupid, or when you’re not invited to that party or part of this group text? I can’t promise that for certain. It has been part of you for so long that I am not sure if you can truly kill off a part of you entirely. But the rain cloud that used to sit in the background of all my happy days, that used to rain on me in group settings or alone in my bed, that cloud has dissipated. No longer do I completely unravel when a negative thought pulls at my loose strings.
I laugh with both eyes closed. I speak without fear of judgement. I dress or post on social media without fear of rejection or expectation of ‘likes’.
But how? After essentially my entire life of anxiety and depression rearing their ugly heads in every aspect of my life, how did the heavy load begin to finally lighten?
Panic attacks, binge eating, body dysmorphia, social anxiety. I no longer google search for pictures of normal looking eyelids for fear of mine being too weird. No longer do I worry about a boy looking at my vulva (not that I’ve had the opportunity recently ahem) to the point of researching vaginoplasties to get a perfect vagina. These are only a few of the embarrassing and twisted rituals I would partake in daily for hours, just self loathing every part of me: physically, mentally, emotionally.
“Take medication!” My family would beg. What do they know? Of course they’re saying that…they’re all on medication but I am different. I can beat this. It’s just a phase. Flashback to 10 years prior in highschool, not wanting to ever speak in group settings because of hatred for my own voice. Afraid to straighten my hands completely for fear and disgust of the wrinkles at the joints in my fingers.
10 years prior…but it’s just a phase.
After my break up this past summer, feeling truly unwanted and alone for the first time in a long time, the pain of self loathing and negative self perception spiked to a level unfamiliar to me. Every day was harder than the last. I began to cry weekly. Then daily. I would wake up wondering if today would be a good day…if something bad happened my entire day would be ruined.
I was a slave to my feelings. My feelings did not respond to the world around me. I responded to my feelings.
I remember lying on my floor after speaking with my therapist whom I had seen every 3 weeks for the last few months. Tears streaming down my face, my body wrapped in a black cocoon of hatred for this pathetic waste of flesh that was myself, I knew my therapist was right. “Maybe it’s time to try medication”. Another gentle push that I had heard many times before. But finally, this push was just the one I needed as I was teetering on the edge to make the plunge.
Anything was better than feeling like this.
“You are incredibly strong” my psychiatrist said to me as I sat across the chair in front of him. I lifted my fragile hand to my cheek to wipe the tears rolling down my face. Strong could not have been more opposite of how I felt in that moment. “You always try to control everything. You always believe that you can fix it. You always try to hide this part of you from your friends, your family, and deal with it on your own. You tell yourself you’re worthless and you simply can not see any good in yourself. But there is a real genetic link here and your anxiety is so high that you can not even put the work in to fix it. The medication will take your anxiety from around an 80%–which is where you are–to about a 40%. You will still feel stress. You may still feel those negative thoughts so doing the work is very important. But you will be in a place to deal with them and set them aside.”
Really? I finally make the decision to take medication and he tells me it won’t make the pain go away?
You’re a hopeless case, the voice in my head hisses at me. Nothing can fix you. This won’t do anything. You’ll have side effects. You’ll feel even worse.
Even with those voices, I still held tightly on to this new weapon my doctor gave me.
The voices weren’t entirely wrong, unfortunately. I had never had thoughts of suicidal ideation before I started taking Lexapro. But a few weeks after bumping up my dose, I found myself crying daily. Laying on the floor of my bedroom..again. This poor floor has gotten very used to accepting my body, too heavy to support on my own, and letting me lay there, silently absorbing my tears. As I laid there, splotchy and snotty, I validated every negative thought that was pulsing through me. It doesn’t work. What’s the point of living. It never gets better.
But then one day….it did.
Like a rainbow after a hurricane. Almost too subtle to notice at first, I was waking up shocked by the beautiful girl I saw in the mirror. I was speaking with friends and not worrying about every word that slid out. Did my eyelids somehow become more normal? Did I suddenly become funnier? Kinder? My mixed assortment of good days and bad days suddenly became a string of good days.
I would lay in bed at night and the sound I heard was amazing.
For the first time, radio silence. And a warmth that spread through my body of peace. So. This is what it feels like. To feel light. To be present. To be unconcerned about all the unknowns that is most aspects of my life right now. Is this what normal feels like?
Before we get too Munchkin Land, this is a real story after all, I must inform you that I still can feel sadness. I cried when my mom told me she was heart broken watching my ex boyfriend marry another girl because she considers him family. I still get stressed and burnt out during exam week, worried that I may not know as much as I should. I still see a picture I don’t like of myself and edit out the shine marks and whiten my teeth.
But the obsession. The inability to feel joy. And even better, the power to think through difficult situations logically. To remove my feelings and understand all sides. To get sad and upset but let it pass over instead of stripping me raw.
These are the things that I have noticed the most. I am putting in the work and I am taking the time to acknowledge these changes. Because it is a feeling I never knew I could feel. I am so glad I did not waste any more years of my life feeling as awful as I did. The cynic in me warns to be careful as nothing is permanent and I am terrified of feeling how I once did. Though I have this thought, I let myself bask in this feeling for as long as I can. That way I can remember in its entirety that good days do exist for me. I do deserve happiness. These synapses of peace and stillness are ones I want to hardwire in my brain.
I am able to give so much more to others now that I can give to myself. I am kinder to myself. I say no without (much) guilt and give myself space and self love whenever I see fit. I am replacing old rotten weak beams of my being with stronger self assured concrete pillars of support. And the best part is that in all this, I am still me.
No, even better….I am FINALLY me.