2AM Thoughts – What Do You Want In Life?

It’s 2AM and I should be asleep. I need sleep, God knows, there’s Monday starting rotation in Paediatrics awaiting, I have to clear out the rest of my apartment tomorrow and I am on medication that my body is still adjusting to in addition to a cold that isn’t physically making me any more prepared for life right now. Yet, here I am at 2AM, thinking. I have been thinking too much today (well, yesterday, technically) and I wish I had a switch in my head to make it stop. I contemplate many things, have debates in my head with myself about life and its many issues and like algebra, my brain works until it has reached the “x = ?” final line. What is the equation? “What do you want in life?” We get asked that question all the time and we are told by many how important it is to eventually figure that out. Most of us have a broad idea or else, a vague one, at least. I thought I was amongst that crowd of broadly yet vaguely knowing my greatest aspirations, yet today, my heart came up with a different answer on its quest towards banishing the pain that suffocates it daily. Its answer wasn’t the one of hopeful motivation I sought out to find. Its answer? Nothing. What if I honestly do not truly want anything in life anymore? Well, onto equation two we go…

Realising I didn’t want anything in life anymore that would make my heart race towards something promising contentment, I found was a double-edged sword. Not wanting anything anymore for myself or having anything to aspire towards loving basically speaks volumes for the root of its cause; depression. Depression, I realised today as I spoke with my friend is something that has rendered me colour blind. It makes all its afflicted colour blind. I asked her what things she loves and why and I asked questions about what would make her happy. Is she happy? Is all of this enough for her heart? Having the most simplest of answers, like food, coffee, friends, outfits and some day hopefully work, I felt like she was describing things I commonly know from a perspective that made her see colour whereas I only see black outlines I saw no point of. Perhaps her definition of happiness wouldn’t match mine. Perhaps more matters to me. Things like empathy and love and kindness and beauty that has nothing to do with daily trivial life. But somehow, I don’t believe those truly exist anymore and if they did, wanting them has only ever set me up for disappointment. So I stopped wanting anything. I do value relationships very much but I don’t believe their capacity to consistently last. I no longer believe the beautiful words many utter so effortlessly initially only to have them reversed and neglected later on and a false reality created.

But perhaps not wanting anything isn’t the worst thing in the world either. Perhaps that is how one acquires the state of just “being.” No expectations, no race towards something that creates anxiety and fear of not obtaining it and no creation of an unattainable world of colour. Perhaps that enables one to give and care without expecting that in return. Perhaps that removes the shades we wish to view the world through and just see it as is. We are no longer “domesticated” by society as to what should and shouldn’t be. Maybe it’s okay that a starbucks coffee, chocolate, an extravagant meal and dressing up to finally just feel beautiful and be told I am isn’t what would make me happy. I have started a course in dialectical behaviour therapy as requested by my Doctor, in my battle against this insidious illness, and I decided to be open minded and do it even though throughout most of it I still don’t see how it could truly work and question it. You are giving me a defined recipe as to what is okay to think, feel and say because my brain’s thinking is “distorted” by a neurochemical and neurostructural heartache. You are trying to create new circuits and rewire me to make my purpose in life a mindful one of loving coffee, food, goals and friendships enough to the point of making me happy. Yet, why do those things make me feel only empty? You are telling me to reinvent myself according to what would make me better and stronger. But perhaps my wish is to see truth and to see truth, I must not want to see anything preconceived. 

I don’t believe there is no beauty left to find amongst this destructed earth on which we dwell. I believe souls continue on in their beauty and that nature’s intent continues to be because that’s what its existence has ordained it to do. But I believe we are controlled by fear and fear has made us construe together the image of what is a safe portion of happiness to hold onto. But I do not want safe. I want real and real I think requires no expectation of what one’s life should be. Perhaps life is not to be created by us but life seeks out to create us if we are willing to take out our selective viewing and societal beliefs. Life’s truth may not be the same thing as your truth and maybe that is why so many of us will never truly be happy. 

I guess what I am trying to say is I don’t want anything, because I want to take worldly wants and myself out of the equation for once. Just viewing without judging I think is an exceptional challenge for the human mind but perhaps we will be surprised by what we find if we managed to do it. I want to live inherently and not according to construed definitions of what a heart should hope for. So maybe, that is what will lead me home; becoming a discoverer and no longer a definer of happiness.

Ghost – Poem

Ghost, I see you standing there,

Don’t turn away, I want you to stay,

Ghost, what’s your name?

Where Life Has Taken Me

I’ve written, but not published, three posts in the last three weeks thinking, “No, this is too intense. I can’t post this.” And, “This isn’t especially helpful or motivational.” So I didn’t publish them. But sitting here I was thinking, I can only write from my heart and my heart might not always be in the most helpful of places or harmonic of places, but it will always be in the most real and raw of places which serves some purpose too. So this post is exactly that. 

The last three weeks have been tough. Being admitted to a psychiatric hospital for a depressive relapse lead up to many things. Firstly, about 2 days post admission my boyfriend left me as he felt he wasn’t ’emotionally ready’ for it. I had no reason to be surprised. Most people say they are always there for you regardless of anything. That they accept you and want to stand by you. But then pain becomes a reality and they run. It hurt to be rejected that way because of the space I was in. Because I have depression and needed treatment. It hurts to have to fight it all alone. To feel your heart crack into a million pieces and your chest constricting with pain as you face another overwhelming moment of depressive crying and realising in that moment you not only feel alone, you are alone. No one even notices you might not make it through one more day. I drove myself to and from hospital. I came home and in my vulnerability sat by myself night and day, hurting in a way that made me beg God to come and take me. During my last week in hospital I needed to prepare for my Surgery exam which was the following week. Being dosed up on meds and having side effects that made me feel ill made it so hard. Through all the tears and feeling like an utter and complete wreck I nonetheless dragged myself along. I could barely manage 3 hours without sobbing but I was determined to do it, regardless of the outcome. Well, that Monday morning as I tried to talk through my 3 oral and clinical exams I felt like hell froze over. I had moments of the world tilting before me thinking I was about to hit the ground and moments of stopping mid-sentence, anxiety ridden and saying, “I’m sorry” as I then paused for 30 seconds and looked at my hands in my lap, taking a couple of deep breaths before I resumed. It was an experience I never wish to relive. I walked out of there asking myself two questions; “What the hell have I become?” and “What made me want to keep going and even show up for this exam?” 

I didn’t want to live. Honestly, not at all. Everything hurt and I couldn’t take the pain anymore. But why do I always keep going then? What is that one thing holding me back from no longer breathing? This is not the first time I’ve felt this pain or been down this rabbit hole. In the past 9 years, it’s the fifth. I’ve been asking myself all week why I then bother fighting for a life because I am not really sure. Maybe there are several parts to that answer. For one, I know I feel that way because of an illness and that it isn’t who I am. I also believe in a God which makes me not want to give up on him. Then there’s that fleeting moment of hope. Hope because I’ve survived up until now. I’ve survived many times like these and many near-death moments and I survived. Also, there are parts of me that come out at times that are me and I think she is worth the fight and maybe I am not ready to fail myself, to give up on myself because I do not want to exit this story defeated. I want to know I raised hell trying and giving everything I’ve got within me. Even if it is doing it alone. Even if it is doing it hurt.

As for the “What the hell have I become?” Well, when I look at how I was ten years ago versus who and how I am now, I feel like a shard of a person. I went from being an over-achiever and excelling to someone who barely gets by. My mind is exhausted, my body is exhausted, all of me is just trying to survive and knows that thriving isn’t in the cards right now. I don’t have my normal dramatic, happy moments of exuberance around friends, my words fail me and silence seems more appropriate. I’ve started putting up an armour around myself to strangers who dare come close. I dismiss their greetings and urge to talk, I barely make eye contact with people anymore and coccooned myself in to feel safe. I need to find my sense of independence again, because when you’re rejected, you are all you’ve got. My current goal is to submerge myself in work until I have completed my internship and maybe then I would be strong enough to trust someone again. Maybe then I would feel like enough again. Maybe then I could trust myself again. But as for now, I have to accomplish my goals and I have to heal and overcome my demons of depression and for now, that is enough.

Getting to the person and place you’ve envisioned is not an easy journey and I’ve come to understand that my journey is one which many will never understand and which many will criticise and so I must walk it alone right now. I must keep my eyes fixed on where I am heading and while I walk, learn to trust my own instincts and follow the desires of my own heart. I must learn to love parts of my journey and create parts to love and in order to do that, maybe everything else has to be white noise for a while. That challenge, in itself, is like asking one to climb Mount Everest. Creating parts to love? Learning to love yourself? Trying to fabricate happiness? It seems like the impossible and yet another cliché and here I am saying I have to do it alone whilst we all know that humans crave and need interaction. Being alone worsens depression. I am aware of all these things. I know what’s good for me and I know what’s bad for me. I know what I ought to do and what I should not do. So why don’t I just do them? Right now, I can just but handle working on the main priorities and cannot build Rome in one day. I have long considered what would ultimately get me to where I need to be. One’s environment plays a big part and one’s life goals play another. I am a final year medical student facing three difficult years of internship and I need to focus on that, and that, will take just about all of me. My other priority is to work on treating depression. To go to therapy, to take my medications, to exercise 20 minutes a day, to attempt to get enough sleep and to eat healthily. These are my main priorities right now and I somehow feel the urge to protect myself from anything else that may divert my attention or derail me. 

People may derail me. Yet they are risks I somehow have to take at some point in my life. Truth be told, the hardest of trials amidst everything else I would say is doing it alone. I believe we can get through just about anything in life if we feel loved and supported and if we can love in return. It’s how we humans are wired. But being disappointed by everyone who has ever truly mattered to you? That makes it very hard to love again and trust again and try again. Friendships… Relationships… Family bonds… All of it. So what is one to do? I believe one is to heal, and then one is to try again. You will be disappointed again in all likelihood. It’s how life works. Most people will run from a woman who has had severe depression and been admitted to a mental hospital. Several times. It is so very rare for someone to be fully committed to the greatness in another and to love that greatness enough to see through all the pain and madness. My therapist asked me, what do I want from someone in a relationship. My answer? I want them to care. I want them to love me enough, the good parts of me, that they can see through the bad. The bad which is really just pain. I don’t want a saviour because we all know at the end of the day the only person who can save you is yourself. I want support and in return, do the same for another until we both can smile again. I don’t want them to have to understand. I just want them to try too. Most of all, I never want to have to try to convince someone to stay and that I am worth it because if they have that doubt, they doubt my worth and I don’t need a half honored commitment. I believe all these things are valid to want and maybe someday, I will find them. Maybe I won’t. But I have learned one thing in life about myself that wouldn’t make me, me if I didn’t honor it; never will I live through the dulling pain of a mediocre heart that forgets what it feels like to fly, even if it is always just falling.

We all have moments. Moments of wanting to give up and let go and sometimes, many do. I pray that none of us will ever reach that point. I’ve stood on the very edge of that precipice with rocks starting to crumble at my feet far too many times. I know the depths of a pain that makes your heart want to quit beating. I know what it’s like to have nothing left and have not a single soul on your side. Believe me, I know. So if you feel the same or you battle through depression with no will left to live every single day of your life, every hour and every minute, just know, I know too. Saying you are not alone in what you feel doesn’t lessen your pain. It hasn’t for me either. Knowing there’s someone else who’s suicidal out there doesn’t console you. I mean, how could it? Each of us use what little energy we have left to fight our own battle and physically, I’m not there with you. I cannot tell you it’s going to be okay, but I also can’t tell you that it’s going to not be okay. It just might be. Just know, it is valid to feel what you feel and some day, maybe tomorrow or maybe ten years from now, who knows? Someday, you’ll want to try again because that was wired into you too and maybe, just maybe, you’d be glad you did.

Lastly, I want to ask you to forgive yourself. In the past three weeks I have, countless times, called myself “irreparably damaged,” “fucked up beyond repair,” “a write off,” “a tragedy,” “mentally unstable” and “too weak to survive.” I’ve even said those words aloud several times to my Doctor and therapist. It’s ironic because what pisses us off is when people reject us using exactly those terms yet we go and use them as poison against ourselves. Maybe they’ve convinced us those words are true or maybe long before anyone else did, we already doubted ourselves. It doesn’t matter. The point is, you’ve come to judge yourself and having the limited perspective on life right now you don’t own that kind of power. You don’t have to forgive yourself for having depression, but you should forgive yourself for believing and reciting the lies around it.

Some days you wake with a heavy heart. So much loss held. So many unknowns. So many missteps and so fucking much flawed humanity. And yet, there is a lightness too, in some moments. Fleeting and yet filled with grace. Or if not a lightness then just  surrender, a kind of sinking in and liquid release. A knowing that there’s nothing to do but breathe and hope and love your way through. Maybe even cry through. And so, return to the hardest practice of all; being gentle with your bleeding heart.