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.

Dealing With Depression In A Relationship

This topic is something I am faced with today. Something I have always thought about but never personally had to experience up until now. I have depression. A chronic illness. Some people consider it a death sentence or stigmatise it. We get called a lot of things. “Crazy”, “Unstable”, “Weak”, “Damaged” …. The list goes on. Would you ever think of someone with a heart disease that way? Or if someone had say, cystic fibrosis to live with making it literally hard for them to breathe at times? Would you consider such a soul unworthy of companionship? Of love? Of being seen as a person with a unique identity worthy of being known? Obviously heart disease and cystic fibrosis is so much more of an easy answer for most to say no, they are not any less. But ask someone that question when it comes to depression and other mental health problems the world faces and suddenly the answer is yes. They are not special or unique, worthy human beings. They are a tradgedy. And a tragic mind that is a write off, having nothing to offer the world. But what is the real tradgedy is the world’s misconception and stereotyping of such individuals. 

Who are we really? We are people. Normal people. We have thoughts and feelings and likes and dislikes. We love, we hate, we laugh, we cry… We have hopes and dreams and passions. Sometimes, we just lose sight of those things and our vision is clouded. Our hearts lose track of things as our minds’ chemistry goes haywire. But even in the midst of all that pain and confusion, we still love what we love and want what we always wanted. We are still ourselves and we still have one hell of a story to live out. 

The thing is, you don’t get to judge someone based on them being ill for a while. If I judged the type of person you were at the lowest point of your life do you think I would’ve liked that person? And most of all, do you think it would be fair to do so? No. You know it wouldn’t. The only time you get to judge a person with depression or another mental illness is when they don’t fight to recover anymore. When they don’t want to see their illness anymore and instead just choose to become their illness, denying its existence. Then you get to judge, by all means. Because depression is not a character flaw. But refusing to fight against an illness, that is a decision of character. 

Today I am being admitted to a psychiatric hospital for depression. When I told my boyfriend that, I felt ashamed. I knew he wouldn’t judge me but he admitted it’s a bit tough for him to process because he could never fully understand it. I am good at compartmentalising my mind and when I interact with others they only see the compartment of me being normal and laughing and saying all I should. I never allow them to reach into that compartment of darkness and pain that resides in the back of my mind. That compartment has been mine to stare in its ugly face. Just mine. Mine to fight and hide. But when you let someone into your life and into your heart and you love them, your compartments cannot stay hidden. Telling him about my depression was one of the hardest things for me to do because I expected the blow of rejection. The thing is, I hide my pain because I don’t ever want it to become somebody else’s pain. I don’t ever want my darkness to effect anyone else and moreover, I’ve seen it as my demons to fight and I would never let my fight become somebody else’s. But nonetheless, it’s something that has to be told and as uncomfortable as it may be, it’s something that the person you are with needs to understand and acknowledge to a degree if they are to support you.

But above all, I want people who are in a relationship with someone who suffers from depression to understand how to be there for the people they love. It really isn’t rocket science or as though you need to carry them through. Having depression is something only you are responsible for fighting. But having support is vital and you deserve that support. You deserve having someone learn as much about your illness as they can and to understand the biology. You deserve having someone tell you they love you regardless and to visit you and show you they care about you. You deserve having someone love you a little louder when you forget how to love yourself. You deserve having someone hold your hand and still see you as you; your unique identity which is why they fell in love with you in the first place right? You deserve it. If you have someone who cares about you then that is how they should support you. People get sick and then they get better again and life goes on. So don’t judge them. If you do then leave because I can promise you we judge ourselves enough already. Maybe throughout their life they will have dips and end up admitted again but so what? They are still fighting to live life and you owe it to them to stand by them anyway. This isn’t a perfect world and there is no such thing as a perfect relationship.

Stigma is a load we will forever carry and being misunderstood and judged is something we will forever face. So the decision is pretty simple. Support us or don’t, but don’t ever make us feel like we are less and a liability to your future. That isn’t fair. I am still myself. I am still a unique human being with thoughts and feelings that go far beyond my depression. Whether you choose to see that is your choice alone. 

What Is It You Need So Badly?

I am in therapy. Yes. And no, I am not ashamed to say it. I also take 5 pills in the morning and 2 in the evening to keep my mind from ripping my heart so far apart that I could never put it back together again and am left shattered and confined to a bed for months. I am not ashamed to say that either. Because therapy is a gift to yourself. So I was told, until I realised it’s the truth. And taking medication is vital to your survival because just like everyone else with a chronic illness, I have one too. But some days, I break so hard that all I can do is cry and my heart is too sensitive for the world’s blows. I get tired faster than most and my threshold for stress is lower. That, I am not ashamed of either because it isn’t weakness, it’s symptoms of an illness I have to live with and fight through every single day of my life. The last while has been hard and my heart aches badly for reasons my mind cannot fully grasp. I cannot get up and go to work because I am tired. So very tired. So this week I am working from home. And then I go to therapy and my therapist tries to talk me through ways to lessen the pain and I get frustrated because really, walking in the sun, spending time with my dogs or flirting with some guy on tinder doesn’t ease the pain and difficulty. I know she’s trying and I’m probably making life difficult for her by rejecting all her advice. And then I try to explain to her how real this ache is right now. An ache that spreads right through my heart, soul, flesh and bones and she asks, “Veronike, what is it you need from me? What is it you need that will help you?” And I say, “I don’t know and I think I need to figure that out.” Because really, only you know what will help your aching heart but you’re too afraid to say it and acknowledge it or think about it. So today, through this post I’m asking you, what is it you need so badly to help you survive?

Hasty Dawn Words, another awesome and inspiring blogger wrote these words yesterday;

“It’s hard to ask for what you need. Mostly because you’re not really sure what you need.  If you suffer from depression there isn’t really anything you WANT other than to not feel like everything is hopeless.

Yesterday you guys listened and let me know I wasn’t alone. I mean of course I know I’m not but when your depressed just a raised hand in a crowd can stop the spiral you are falling into.

Byron Hamel said to me once, “I’m here if you need me but I need to know exactly and specifically what you need”.

Now I really have to think about that. Depression will rob you of an answer so you have to really search.

-Right now I need attention

-Right now I need to talk to someone

-Right now I need to sit quietly with someone

-Right now I want to sit under a night sky with someone and contemplate life

-Right now I need to not be alone

-Right now I need to hear “I love you”

We are afraid to say what we want. And it hurts us. People say “She just wants attention” as if it’s a horrible thing so we don’t dare ask for it. But really there is nothing wrong with ASKING for it. People act out in drastic ways for attention because we’ve made asking for it a needy and nasty thing to do.

Well I asked for what I needed specifically yesterday and it may have seemed ridiculous to some. As if sending a heart wouldn’t really have value but it does. My brain wanted to tell me nobody would respond. That I’m not worth it. But I stepped out in an effort to prove that voice wrong.

Don’t let your brain bully you.

Thank you for helping my heart speak louder than my brain yesterday ❤️❤️ ”

Such words are powerful. They ignite the will in us to seek help. And now I am asking myself, what is it that I need right now?

I need rest because my mind is weary and my body tired.

I need to feel loved because I feel alone and that makes life so much harder.

I need support. Someone to tell me they’re standing right by my side no matter what happens.

I need someone I can pour out my heart to and cry whatever tears I cannot cry anywhere else.

I need someone to understand and to acknowledge my thoughts and feelings.

I need to just be held. To be hugged.

I need strength of mind and perseverence and so, I need someone to remind me that I am strong and capable and to believe in me.

I need to be selfish now because I am so very tired of pouring energy I don’t have into people.

I need to redefine my goals and set them in a way that will make me willing to try. Because my perceptions get distorted and my mind negates the worth of everything over time and I let it. I believe it and accept it.

I need these things. Mostly, I need to feel cared for and loved and supported and have an ear who will listen. When we cannot carry ourselves we should turn to others to carry us and in return carry them when they need help. That’s what we were meant to do and be for each other and that’s why we weren’t created to be alone.

What if you don’t have anyone to turn too? You find someone. Sometimes people are more willing to listen and help than you think. Even if you email a complete stranger, like me, to pour out your heart. But you go find someone because whatever it is you need so much I guarantee you you need from other people too. And that’s okay. It does not make you clingy or weak or dependent.

It makes you human.

4ab6365f78355b635c6e43d8210bd923