Despite my seemingly personal writing, I am not particularly willing to delve on a few topics (see: mental health, relapsing, trauma, defeat) because writing about something “makes it real” and if I don’t write down wretched occurrences, then they are not immortalized and I fool myself into a cozy state of denial. So although I won’t dwell on the details too much, I’ll attempt to speak about the steps I made in faith I will be able to move forward again.
2016 was arguably the crappiest period of regression for my anxiety and depression since making strong strides in remedying my mental and emotional health.
Last month I began having an anxiety attack while we were driving home. I felt helpless and panicked at being unable to control our fate and our surroundings. Every plane in the sky seemed like an asteroid about to hit Earth. Every other car on the highway seemed to be an accident waiting to befall ours. Regardless of knowing science would debunk such thoughts, my lungs froze and my brain lost all logic. If me and my husband had to go somewhere I’d likely ask him “What if we’re going to die? What if the train crashes? What if someone decides to place a bomb where we’re eating? What if someone throws a boulder on our car when we’re driving?”
I was beginning to fear death again, after learning to love life. I was beginning to fear life itself. Never mind my heightened sense of germ-phobia.
Add to that the trauma (see: recurring nightmares for the past half year) of losing people whom I genuinely considered to be life-long friends after they behaved ill-tempered towards me, an inbox full of hate from people who vehemently disagreed with some of my more political writing, strangers sending screenshots of conversations mocking my lack of skill as a poet, moving to a country where most people won’t acknowledge you if you can’t speak their language – the “badass feminist“ in me felt like a completely different person as I cared more about other people’s opinions/feelings than my own although I preached otherwise.
The combination of the above agonizing events plus daily stressors culminated in the deterioration of my mental health which in itself is another blow due to how securely happy, stable, and at peace I had been and assumed I would always be.
Hence I’m going to force myself to begin taking steps to heal myself, instead of waiting, hoping for my old self to come back one day. I’m going to force myself to find solutions and act on them. I’m going to force myself to believe in the authenticity of what I’m trying to do and not second-guess myself continually.
1. The first step to facing a problem is to admit I have one.
I’ve taken medication for 3 months now. They have somewhat helped improve my mood, if even by a little. I’m going to transfer to a different gym closer to home which will help me exercise more often. Exercise = endorphins.
2. I’m taking walks by myself in spite of my irrational fear of being raped or kidnapped or murdered by a serial killer. I’m taking language lessons and learning to bike by myself, take the bus by myself, talk to sales people by myself and force them to acknowledge me and talk to me in English even if they first instinctively ignore me and refer in Danish to my husband. (It’s gratifying when they DO reply to me in English instead of acting they don’t speak it).
3. If you have a problem with my socio-political views and express that by repeatedly message/post rude comments on my personal social media pages, then you can suck it and move the fuck on. (Just like what you said to the Martial Law victims)
4. If someone doesn’t like my writing and feels the need to discuss it on social media with their friends while mocking me for fun, whatever. May karma be kind. I don’t have anything to prove to anybody anymore.
5. Screw it. Screw people. Screw you all who were hostile to me in our youth and continue to carry that now. Two months ago I deleted anyone who I felt was triggering my anxiety and fortunately my nightmares lessened after that.
6. I will no longer tolerate anybody who makes me feel unwanted, disliked, unwelcome, insignificant, or weak especially without justification.
7. Anyone who won’t contribute to my health and well-being can go fuck off and go fuck themselves. My energy is better spent cultivating reciprocative relationships with people who treat me like I matter.
8. I’m gonna go back to giving zero fucks about anyone except myself as long as I’m not consciously hurting others and trying to learn/take responsibility/apologize if I do something wrong.
This isn’t really “Hey 2017 new year new me!”
If there’s anything I learned this year it’s a dose of humility. 2016 was basically learning that no matter how enlightened, or strong, or healthy, or improved I assume to be – I am never as in a good or foolproof state as I think I am. There is always chance for learning. There is always room for growth. There is always a possibility for a new low, a new level of grief, an unvisited plane of futility.
But I need not fight against it. Rather, I have to accept it. Accept emotions come and go – both sadness and happiness. Accept life will never be consistently secure. That my journey won’t always be peachy and blossoming with achievements and development.
That stability isn’t so stable after all.
I won’t ever be in a fixed state of inner peace or contentment and I have to come to terms with this while being aware and grateful for the positive bits that come along the way.
So to me: DO YOU. Keep growing, keep learning, keep surviving, keep opening yourself, breaking yourself apart, rebuilding yourself again. (and be grateful to the universe, be always, always grateful!)
Reinventing oneself is a process and part of this shitty but pretty cool journey of recovery and discovery, and in order to fully heal I am going to have to, this time, not simply forgive others but also begin to forgive myself. Pick up the pieces of my screw-ups, own up to them, put them back together as best as I can, and move the hell on.
I will grow, grow, grow instead of sitting amidst my mess and beating myself up for what else I could’ve done better. I will internalize that it’s okay to admit defeat or seek guidance. It’s okay to lose my way, sometimes, most times, too many times. I just have to be sure to find my way back somehow or make myself a completely new path to follow.
This new year I don’t expect to be changed or have new beginnings or soul altering bullcrap – things will probably be the same, I will probably be the same, but to hell if I’m not gonna go kicking and screaming in an effort to be better. To hell if I’m not gonna drag myself by the hair if I’m tempted to just sit, sulk, and listen to the paranoia in my head.
This is to owning up, this is to forgiveness, this is to not being ashamed of failure or weakness or judgment, this is to healing, this is to growth, this to acceptance, this to peace, this is to Carrie Fisher, this is to staying soft and kind and positive but also to taking life by the throat when it doesn’t reciprocate instead of just expecting it to compensate you back. This is to still figuring myself out.
2017 I hope you’ll be gentle, but if you mess with me I will fight you.
Bye 2016. You were a major bitch, but now I’m a bigger one.