Trigger Warning: Suicidal ideation
Hello blog community. Are you still around? I haven’t written a post since March 2021. Do people still write or read blogs anymore? Buckle up, this is one of my heaviest posts yet. If you’re not in the right headspace for this, please do yourself a favor and don’t continue reading.
I felt compelled to pull out my computer today and begin writing publicly. Since the last time I made a post, a lot has happened. It seems as if the world has collectively been struggling mentally and emotionally. Tasks that used to be simple pre-pandemic, now take a lot more effort and have become draining. Majority of us are extremely burnt out.
Many external factors have been happening not only to us individually, but also to the entire world, leaving us feeling anxious and out of control. We’ve been trying to adapt and adjust our lives during a global pandemic, while also fighting systematic racism and inequality. Friendships have been strained and relationships with loved ones have been lost. We are lonely, confused, angry, grieving, and just plain tired.
There’s days that seem to drag on, and then there’s months that fly by and make us feel like we lost important time during the start of the pandemic that we can never get back. Personally, it took me awhile to adapt to a new routine during the pandemic. I, like so many others, bought an exercise bike and made unkept promises to myself on using it. I switched up my ‘home office’ setup well over 10+ times. At first, I enjoyed the extra quality time with my sweatpants. And then, I realized that remaining in my pajamas all day and not engaging in regular movement was doing more harm than good to my body and mental wellbeing.
Just when I got into my own healthy groove and daily routine, the vaccine came out. There was so much excitement and for the first time, it felt like there was a light at the end of the tunnel. So many of us felt hopeful. There was a lot of talk about wanting life to ‘return back to normal’, but I dreaded the thought of having to adapt to an entirely new way of life, again.
There were so many happy & memorable times after this – being able to safely see loved ones without a mask and giving them a big hug, starting my online business (@shop.empathic), and many more. However, simultaneously, life began to feel extremely heavy and dark. The best way I can describe it is that I was only seeing life in black & white while others were seeing it in color. It felt like I was standing still while everyone else around me was moving on with their lives.
I’ve always been a highly anxious person with intrusive thoughts, but my anxiety felt different this time. Life felt very dark and scary. It was like I was on a fast-moving train that was going to crash and I just wanted to get off. Getting out of bed took all of my energy and showering felt too daunting. My intrusive thoughts eventually became rumination that felt like it occurred day in and day out and led to unhealthy & unhelpful obsessions. I felt like my emotions were too heavy to carry and I just wanted to put them down. It felt like my heart was literally breaking until one day it felt so bad that I lay in bed with my mom because I was too scared of what I would do if I was alone with myself.
I, as a cisgender white woman, was privileged to access and afford the resources that helped me to pull out of my depression with an intensive outpatient therapy program in addition to appointments with my regular therapist, a psychiatrist, and medication. I so badly wanted things to get better. I didn’t even want to feel joy or happiness, I just wanted to at least feel good enough to get through the day. I just wanted the heaviness of my heart to ease.
And then it started to. Slowly, but surely I began to realize there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I started to feel less like I was entirely broken and more like I was just cracked and starting to heal but that I would one day, be full again and see the light. One of my favorite quotes that still helps me through dark days, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen.
Healing is hard work. It’s something people don’t talk enough about. It seems that words like ‘healing’ and ‘trauma’ are buzzing all over social media in the past few months. I can only hope that this means people are having more conversations surrounding mental health, as uncomfortable as those conversations may be. We all heal in our own time, in our own way.
There are breakthroughs I’ve made in therapy, but majority that have occurred outside of my therapist’s office, when something has triggered me. A scent, a place, a song, etc. The thing about triggers is that you never know when they will show up. Healing has made me realize that for most of my life I’ve masked my feelings and shut out people & disassociated from certain situations. It finally feels like I’ve pulled my mask down (literally) and am starting to get to know who I really am.
I write this because the suicide of Twitch has made me stop and reflect on my own mental health journey. Because it doesn’t matter how much someone smiles on the outside or how great their life appears on social media, you never know what someone is experiencing. People are great at masking. If you are struggling, you are not alone. I can’t promise that things will be okay, but I can promise that you are worthy of healing.
Resources: https://nami.org; Suicide Lifeline: 988