I’m not okay — and that’s okay

Originally written in my journal on 20th January 2021

Just because you don’t understand, it doesn’t mean it isn’t so.”
– Lemony Snicket, The Blank Book

An excerpt from one of my favourite films as a young teenager in the midst of sprouting out of puberty. Trying to figure me out, life, friendship, while balancing my teenage angst and emotional instability. I couldn’t understand the meaning of it at the time and I never bothered to. I thought I was somewhat matured, thinking that there’s nothing in life that you won’t understand if you put the effort to do so.

I’m 25 now; it’s been aeons since that moment, but I still haven’t been able to figure out a million things in life.

Truth is, the configuration of the mind is difficult to decipher.

How do you explain to someone why you’re feeling the way you do? Why you suddenly feel an urge to isolate yourself from the rest of the world, curl up in a ball and cry your chest out? How could you not control yourself from crying every day in the last 3 weeks? Why do your eyes start to shift, your hand uncontrollably shaking, your heart pounding, your chest tightening and you start to feel like you’re suffocating, making you want to just drop to the ground or run far away? Even if you do know the reason, are you able to tell them that a chemical imbalance occurs in your brain flooding it with cortisol and norepinephrine, thus making you feel depressed or anxious?

I’m currently going through a lot of changes, and although they are mostly positive, it still leaves a feeling of uncertainty. For someone who prefers to have control over life’s circumstances, this uncertainty is a trigger for my mental health. Our body sends signals to let us know that something isn’t right in which we often aren’t aware of mentally.

Having anxieties that often comes with depression/ self-isolation is not a new thing for me. Heck, I perpetually have been doing that since high school and. But, when it reoccurred again this time around, I could feel the overwhelming body sensations of stress, anxiety, and depression.

I can’t begin to wonder or explain how I could be both restless and exhausted at the same time. As I tried to force myself to sleep by crying incessantly, I could feel my entire body pulsating. I could feel each eye throbbing as if trying to push through each eyelid. It took an extra effort to maintain concentration due to the overwhelming migraine. My jaw was clenched and sore due to the sensation of heavy grinding.

My body was sending out a cry for help.

I never overcame my relationship with anxiety and depression. I knew I was having another episode and all of my quick-fix didn’t help. I managed to succumb to the cycle of mental illness, which I’ve learned isn’t a cycle at all but instead acts as an ebb and flow. Sometimes we just don’t have control over our emotions and the triggers that aggravate them.

I may have been able to present a facade to myself that things are going well, but physically, the signs were overwhelming. Over time I ignored them, only for the build-up to break through and hit like a collapsed dam.

I tried to hide my emotions and feelings from myself. Shrugging it all off by saying, “I’m fine,” or “things are fine, my life isn’t so bad,” so that I could maintain a level of artificial happiness, but the body always catches up and reveals the truth.

I couldn’t sleep that night, much like any other nights of late. The physical sensations of stress and anxiety were still as overwhelming in the morning as it was the night before, but this time, I felt the emotional pain as well. The emotional signals were all too familiar, and here I was, back in a depressive mode that I never overcome.

At first, I felt a feeling of guilt — that I’ve let myself down or even failing at keeping myself together. But like most illnesses, mental illness isn’t just cured overnight and can re-arise if the environment is right. For me, that environment or trigger was the overwhelming change occurring.

In the past, I would’ve used different methods that I developed over time as coping mechanisms to hide and not feel the pain. But, this is not something that six shots of vodka or diazepam tablets can fix.

I chose to embrace all of my feelings, and I’m thankful that I did. I chose to seek professional help, and I’m glad that I did. The embracement was definitely uncomfortable, but it allowed me to release some of the physical tension that I’ve been holding onto.

I often have feelings of insecurity, unworthiness, and self-disappointment. I’m learning to embrace the emotions and not run away from them, or suppress them. Something that’s taken me 25 years to do, but I’m glad that the timing is happening now.

Like what my therapist told me, “Everyone is a work in progress. I’m 50+ years old and I’m still a WIP. People you look up to — Michelle Obama, AOC; whoever they are — they're all still a WIP. Life is constant learning and improvement, and you’re at the best age & point of your life to embrace that.”

It’s okay to feel. It’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to reach out for help. It’s okay to stumble down as you do some serious kickass in the world. It’s what makes this life real. It’s what makes you a human.

Communicate with yourself with what you’re feeling and listen to your body. It’s always okay to both feel and express the pain and happiness in your life. Feel the emotion in its entirety. Cry, let go, and then, most importantly, breathe because, at the end of the day, everything is going to be okay.

It may seem like an uphill battle. It may seem like there’s no end to it. I always say that having depression or anxiety is like driving an old, nearly-breaking car in a dark, dark tunnel while trying to escape a raging fire that’s coming right behind you and can eat up the entire car and yourself within seconds. It’s a struggle you have to face to stay alive. But, do know that there’s always an end to it and you’ll see the light when you’re there.

You’ll be fine. You’ll find hope again. You’ll get the support system you need. You’ll get there. Just hang on a little bit. It’ll be over soon and you’ll be okay again.

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