It was awful. There were moments when my heart would sink so deep into my chest I could feel it in my stomach. Moments when I cried so much and so hard that I could feel my head pounding. Moments when I would wonder if the hurt would ever go away or if I would ever feel okay again. Truthfully, “okay” became such a distant memory that I think I forgot what it felt like completely.
Every day would bring a new struggle, a new adversity, a new sense of uncertainty that made it hard to take a deep breath. I was constantly trying to mentally prepare myself for whatever mess, whatever pain would come next. And the worst part was, I didn’t see an end to it. I never thought I’d be able to make it out of this time on my own. I thought that life would have to force me out. I thought that the external circumstances would have to change because I certainly didn’t think I could. I felt that my problems were bigger than me. And I genuinely believed that they were well more than I could handle. I thought, this is rock bottom, and I was too consumed with my own emotions to even think about anything outside the fact.
See, when you hit rock bottom, you’re forced to make a decision. A lot of times it’s a subconscious one, but whether we realize it or not, we are choosing between two outcomes: Do I stay here at rock bottom, feeling powerless, hurting, spending more time miserable than not? Or do I get up, wipe off the dirt, and do something to change it? Of course, it’s not that straightforward in the moment. But what I did realize in the moment, was that I was sick and tired of feeling so sluggish so much of the time. I had exhausted all of my mental resources and quite honestly, the thought of things staying as they were was just not one I could bear to handle.
So you see, for me, rock bottom was my savior. This “place” is made out to be so heart-wrenching, so terrifying, and everything that falls between. And it definitely was. However, it was also this amazing, transforming mental state that carried with it and abundance of overlooked potential. When you hit rock bottom, it feels like things can’t get worse, like you have nothing left to lose. And that in itself, having nothing to lose, gives our minds and our hearts the strength they’ve needed all along—the strength that allows us to see hope again, the strength that pushes us outside of our comfort zones, because the worst that can happen is that we end up right back where we started. We have seen the worst, so we’re no longer afraid of it. We are no longer afraid of what might happen if we do things differently. In fact, the more terrifying thought becomes, What if we don’t?
Rock bottom was my turning point. It proved to me that things often have to get worse before they can get better. It taught me mind over matter, and that the only thing standing in the way of me and my happiness is myself. It reminded me what “okay” felt like and that I had the power to feel that way again, if not better. I’m thankful for it, for the process, because I was forced to see my potential again, something that I hadn’t thought about in a long time. I was forced to realize how much I underestimated myself. How much I underestimated my inner strength, my power to self-discipline, my drive to wake up every day and be better than the day before. Following my moment of weakness, I was compelled to pull myself together and realize that the human brain truly is the most powerful thing in this world, and that no matter what I do, no matter what I did, nothing and no one could take that power away from me. And with that, I could finally breathe. It took time, but the weight had finally been lifted off of my shoulders.
Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t just get easier right away. But from rock bottom on, I would improve. Through every antagonizing factor, every bad instinct, every undermining thought, every setback, I held comfort in knowing that things could only get better and that I was more than capable of creating “better” for myself. And so, though overcoming what was by far the hardest time in my life was anything but enjoyable, I am grateful. I am grateful because it made me stronger; it made me wiser. It forced me to become more secure in myself than ever before. It made me into the person I am today, and I couldn’t be more proud.
So yes, healing takes time. It takes overcoming obstacles; it even takes mistakes. But one day, it all becomes worth it. I promise you. Every tear, every lonely night, every occasion when you said “no,” though it would’ve been a million times easier to say “yes,” will be worth it.
I made it through the hardest time in my life. Actually, I made it through and then some. I came out more insightful, more knowledgeable, more motivated than ever. I would even go so far as to say that I came out with flying colors. So long as you remember mind over matter, as long as you recognize the power you hold and the true capabilities that lie within you, there is not a doubt in my mind that you will make it too.