Sometimes life can really feel like you are grasping at straws, never coming up trumps; or even grasping at the mere illusion of straws – false opportunities, any tiny sense of fulfillment to make all the ‘BS’ seem bearable. This is only a mere surface scratch to relate to how I have felt in the past and often felt completely lost in a sense of despair and drifting. I don’t know if everyone experiences the same struggles and manage to ‘fake it’ much more convincingly. But, to me, it felt like I was alone. Failing at life. Disappointing everyone and ruining everything. This feeling and almost deep-rooted belief became second nature, an embedded act of cynical thinking if you will. And so often I found myself falling, and falling, and falling; further and further into the dark, never-ending abyss of depression and scarring of my soul – my intrinsic being – with an emotional crater, creating a seemingly unbridgeable void to my former self. Honestly, looking back I have to count myself lucky. Lucky that I never let go of the most minuscule sense of hope. Lucky, that I battled against my demons. And most of all, lucky that I repeatedly found the will to carry on and stand back up fighting every time I knocked myself down.
For years, I found myself dumbfounded and completely puzzled at what destroying force could possibly have the heart – thereby lack of – to cause such consuming, callous thoughts. I realize for many, the source of depression and mental health struggles can be the result of a capitulation of multiple events, circumstances and issues. But for me, everything boiled down to one thing. Underneath my own reckless, demonizing and persecuting mask of emotional trauma was me. All my pain, suffering, self-hating and down right self-torturing was all from my own internalized shame of self-identification and latent self-worth. Years of self-hating and shaming myself due to my sexuality and own image; years of self-abusing verbally and physically due to my own inability to accept myself and have trust in my peers, my family and wider society to welcome me in; and years of mental scrutiny and distress due to my own self-defense mechanism being in overdrive. I worried about my worries, almost a sense of heightened anxiety, described by doctors as severe anxiety. Such feeling, I fear I could never truly bottle the essence of sheer panic in overdrive. I can only attempt to reach a mere abstract comparison from my own experience of anxiety and the mental toll it takes out of you; triggering depression and ultimately, for me, mental relapse.
The feel of being a claustrophobic asthmatic in a tightly enclosed space. The walls pushing in, closer and closer. Squeezing each last molecule of oxygen out of your lungs and the tightening of your chest begins. A haunted hand grappled around your throat. Every sense draining out of your body, until you feel like an empty vessel of nothingness, only harboring one thing – panic, terror and pure unfiltered anxiety. That feeling of confinement, asphyxiation and complete hopelessness is what drives the monster; is what tightens the noose around your neck and amplifies the unwanted benefactor, which for me was depression of the darkest of sorts.
As highlighted in previous posts, I am still recovering and still receiving treatment and on medication. But, I can truly say that I am not the blank canvass I used to envisage, I am a fully grown independent woman, living with my beloved girlfriend and studying a university course I am fully invested in. So what changed? How did I find that will to carry on? I’d like to think in some enchanted, fairy-tale mythological sense that it found me but in truth I don’t think I ever truly let go of hope. Buried deep it may have been but I protected it, I nurtured it and when the time eventually came I trusted myself in it. For me the magic in that moment, when you pick yourself up in midst of such a depressive cyclone of raw emotional release, you don’t give up, you stand back up to take another hit , to go the full 10 rounds and escape the KO. That magic, shows you that you believe in yourself, have faith in yourself and one day will return to yourself.
I cannot emphasize enough how often I wanted to throw in the towel, let down my defences and take that final KO punch. However, that is not what happened. Call it persistence, call it inner strength, or even call it a miracle; I never let go and neither should you. Believe me when I say, the hardest thing to do is to keep on standing, keeping on fighting and to keep on believing. Once, you accomplish that, you can do whatever you set your mind to. So, ultimately, it’s not about finding that will to carry on but instead, always holding onto it because deep down you hold the keys to your own power, your own tenacity, you own dedication, every little attribute that protects that fostering of hope and manufactures the will to fight.
Please know that you are not alone. Keep on fighting, Keep on willing. Keep on surviving.