I Don’t Belong Here
How old were you when you first realized you weren’t like anybody else? For me, it was definitely middle school. I never felt like I fit in at all. I had friends, sure. But I always felt like an impostor in my friend groups. Like I was only around until they could find someone better. This feeling, among many others in my angsty preteen years, led to my first experience with depression. I grappled with feelings of inadequacy and not feeling wanted or loved by friends or family; ultimately, I felt like a nuisance and my existence was not needed for any involved. Although I didn’t know how to name this feeling, I knew it wasn’t normal. Unfortunately, my parents saw my wavering moods as dramatic episodes so I shoved the feelings into the back of my mind and being as to not further give reasons for my “unwanted” existence.
Depression came and went like a thief in the night throughout my high school years but I was able to stave off the worst of it until I got to college. I wasn’t aware of what was lurking beneath the surface for many years, as you all know, I had *successfully* pushed it to the back of my mind. It first came rushing forth in waves—waves of panic attacks. Many classes for me were interrupted by these waves; filled with profuse sweating, stomach grumbling or just sheer panicky dread as I was continuously anxious about passing or failing. Next came the insomnia and angry outbursts at my roommates. I couldn’t sleep at night and was only afforded small naps during the day when my roommates didn’t decide to cook (very loudly) or invite over classmates for dance sessions. Finally, I found myself planning the inevitable. I didn’t feel worthy of living and I was at my wits end.
There’s A Light To Come
When I finally found a doctor who would listen to my concerns, I was placed on the right medication to help stop my anxiety and panic attacks. Because I was using our school’s free health clinic for visits, I was eventually told that I could use student counseling services as well. This was such a blessing y’all. I was in there once or twice a week crying my eyes out and getting better. I never realized how much help I needed until I didn’t think I could go on.
This season was probably my toughest mentally and emotionally dealing with depression, because I didn’t come from a family that believed in my depression (which is ironic because my mother is both diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and a MSW counselor). I had to walk through the valley to get to slightly higher elevation (because let’s be honest, the mountaintop is still a ways to go). It didn’t stop with medicine and counseling; and more than likely, it won’t ever stop. It will be something I carry forth with me every single day. But there’s still a light to come (and that has already come) even as I face my very own darkness.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.”
Isaiah 9:2 ESV; Matthew 4:16 ESV
This Is Not The End
As I face this battle day in and day out, I choose to focus on healing my trauma. There’s no way I’ll find a reason worth living, unless I dig through all the muck that tries to take me beneath the billowing waves that come.
Listen, like I said in the last post, I’m not here to fix your issues or mine. I want to make that clear, because I know the last thing we usually like to hear in crisis are fluffy ways to get out of crisis. I’m just here to help the burden seem less burdensome for you and for me. So here are a few activities I partake in when I’m feeling particularly anxious or moody:
- Spa Days
- Sound Therapy/Healing
- Listening to podcasts
- Deep breathing exercises
Self-care isn’t just a catchphrase. It’s a lifestyle. Will it heal me eternally? Probably not. But moment by moment, I take back power over my anxious mind and dwindling will to live. You have to take care of you before anything else. When it’s too much going on *up there*, slow down and scan your mind and body. Most times, you don’t even realize you’ve gone to anxiety town until you’ve chosen to acknowledge it. Listen to your body and mind above all else. You know your triggers and you know what brings release.
Be healthy. Be healed. And whatever you do, don’t stop until you find the light.