For as long as I can remember, I have been weighed down by insecurities and self-doubt. This stemmed from having an over-achieving family who, completely unintentionally, set some pretty high bars for me as a child. Me, not being the most academically inclined student, took this particularly hard with the return of every test and report card, constantly telling myself that I wasn’t smart enough to be worthy of my parent’s love. The problem with repeatedly telling yourself something so poisonous is that eventually you start to believe it. I was told time and time again things like “Don’t be so hard on yourself,” or “Focus on what you are good at,” but those things all seemed like stock phrases you’d say to someone who wasn’t good at anything at all. Though I slowly came to terms with the fact that I did indeed have my own strengths, that feeling that I was somehow defective always lingered in the back of my mind like a head cold during the changing of seasons. An innocuous feeling, I thought to myself. However, after years of sweeping my perceived inadequacies under the rug, the rug got lumpy and I started to trip up.
I remember vividly, the autumn when it all changed. All it took was one experience with laced drugs to push the chemical imbalance in my brain over the threshold. As the days got darker so did the thoughts ripping my mind in half and so began a steep and rapid decline into the darkest days of my life culminating with a brutal and public anxiety attack. I walked home at the end of each work day I focused on one thing; smoking a joint to numb the pain. As everyone does, I kept asking myself why was this happening? I had started a new job which I was loving and thriving in. I won the genetic jackpot and was born into the most loving, supportive family imaginable and yet still nothing made me happy. By the time I had my breakdown I had altogether forgot what happiness felt like. Songs I would rely on to elevate my spirits bounced off me. I felt out of place and anxious even around my best friends. Everyday became the same twisted Groundhog Day; wake up and silently claw at the walls of the rut I was in. But the rut grew bigger and the loneliness I felt was exacerbated by my desire to be alone. It wasn’t until I thought to myself “the only reason I’m still going is because I know how devastated the people closest to me will be if I quit,” something I’ve seen that. So I came to the conclusion that I’d have to speak up. Upon finally talking to my parents about this they did what they did best. They held me and told me they loved me. Told me that this shitty monster in my head was not so easily controlled and that I was in fact the person I thought I was pretending to be.
I had taken the first step to healing so I could appreciate the person I am today. And I do. Through reflection, therapy and a healthy dose of Zoloft, I was able to remember what it was like to be happy and take my life back. It’s not easy and it’ll take time, but goddammit does it make a difference. It did for me.