How To Stop Feeling Numb

Truthfully, I was avoiding myself for a long time, always focusing on the past and never thinking about the future.

That is not to say that I did not work towards a future. I was just numb through most of the courses, conversations, and chances presented to me.

I took the college classes, I ate the food needed to survive, I even drank water, and sometimes I slept. I did everything that would ensure I’d “secure a job in the future” and “live to see another year”. My body was meeting the requirements that would get me through the war that was going on in my head. My brain was studying the materials I was told I needed to know to handle my future.

The entire time my brain was never sure if I’d be able to handle another day.

I’d have an anxiety attack in the middle of the street on a sunny day. “Breathe in and out,” I told myself. I’d remind myself I must get through it because I had to, no matter how much I didn’t care if it was my last breath.

One night, during a Halloween party, I sat on the edge of my friend’s roof with a red cup in my hand. I was in the same daze that the other college students were experiencing around me. Through blurry vision, I looked at all of the well-dressed boys and girls. Their wide grins, bright eyes, and auras emitted youth and freedom. Most didn’t care where the night would take them. Some were excited to find out. At that moment, I felt like I was at the movie theater, only my life was the movie. Numb. Free. Young. Numb. Numb. Numb. I had not been living, I had been surviving for most of my life. These were the thoughts that started to flood my mind when I walked away from the Brooklyn rooftop. I was well-dressed too, tipsy, and young. The only difference was that I didn’t need liquor to make me numb and reckless.

That’s what happens when every day means going through the motions of surviving a horrible mental state—suppressing passions and giving into insecurity, doubt, and trauma.

Still, I wouldn’t say there was a “life-changing event” where I spoke to a life coach or met an inspirational woman at any of the homeless shelters I volunteered at. The moment I realized that I was capable of healing on my own. Well, it wasn’t really a moment. It was an accumulation of pain and fun.

Realizations include, but are not limited to knowing that:

  • You cannot change the past
  • You cannot predict the future
  • You can only control your present, so enjoy it, dammit
  • You are the only one who can change your perspective on a situation
  • You are much stronger than you like to give yourself credit for
  • Not everyone will understand, not even yourself sometimes
  • There are things that are out of your control—do not waste your energy trying to change them
  • Stop having high expectations for people—you are not owed anything
  • There are people who love you—there really are
  • Although you consistently lose sight of this, you are important
  • You cannot help anyone without helping yourself first
  • Distractions do not equal healing
  • And most importantly, you are going to get through it

A lot… I know. There’s more, I promise.

So now here I am, a little better, still taking those classes, still lacking sleep, and still going to parties (much less than before, though), while allowing myself to acknowledge all of my feelings day by day.

I have forgiven anyone who couldn’t be there when I needed someone. I have forgiven myself for not doing so sooner.

To myself: I’m sorry for not taking care of you sooner, but it’s okay. It’s not too late. It never was.

About the author
I want to help people heal with my writing. I also make music & paint. Follow Katherine on Instagram or read more articles from Katherine on Thought Catalog.

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