In another two days I will be travelling to India. I still can’t believe it. You never think you’ll get very far until you get there right? At the moment I am still processing this. I can start writing for myself again. The thoughts in my head are now my own. As I sit in my room and for the first time in weeks I am looking at my surroundings and not just my screen.
Yesterday when I came home from the library I was just happy that I could wash my hair. Now that I have begun cleaning up, packing and diverting my attention to other things even the grey day seem sunnier. When you don’t have work it’s easier just to appreciate the finer details.
This homecoming will be a historic moment for me. I have seen so many versions of it in the past year wondering what it would look like. I doubted whether I could even make it. This mountain now looks like a molehill. A life without panic attacks never even seemed like a possibility for the longest time.
You often get comfortable in the place you’re in inside your head, always telling yourself, this is the best it can get. It’s like a prisoner who locks the cell himself or herself and never refuses to leave even though s/he hasn’t done anything wrong, because s/he is scared of liberation. Now I can actually help others with their problems because I have my shit together. You can actually contribute a little more to the world because you are sorted.
I stood in front of the mirror last night looking at myself, I have never thought of myself as beautiful. Yesterday for the first time I looked into my own eyes and believed that I love myself. For the longest time I would tell myself that I do, but knew it was a lie. Yesterday I realised I wasn’t lying when I said I love myself.
I love myself with all the flaws, every bit. You underestimate this aspect of your life. Today when I woke up after sleeping for seven hours for the first time in weeks, even though I woke up sweating from a bad dream I was still satisfied. I laughed out loud, because I was finally searching for the silver lining. A while back I’d be disappointed because the sleep wasn’t good. Now I pat myself on the back just for sleeping. This to me is progress.
There are so many listicles and blogs on mental health, so many experts, so many people who recount their experiences, so many stories that confuse us. We keep comparing our experiences with theirs trying to identify the differences. The doctor says one thing, a patient says another, the therapist sees it differently and every person in the world will tell you something different.
You need to remember that your mental health is yours and no one else’s. No one can tell you how to feel, how to be, and honestly those listicles and articles, even this one will not help you. Don’t get sidetracked, when you see your progress you will know however small or big. Sometimes I meet people who deal with mental health issues, who give me advice on how to be. It’s unfortunate that we impose our ideas on each other.
We talk about empathy, but empathy is a myth. If you think anybody knows exactly how you feel except you, ask yourself whether they really do. I don’t want to impose my ideas on anybody reading this. How I see it is how I see it, nobody else can see it that way. No matter how much they try, they can get close, but they’ll never stand behind this pair of eyes.
Often I get asked, when do you feel this is ok? When did you realise you could get better? When I get asked this, I smile, because for me it happened when I was flying to London with my mother. It happened when I was crossing a boundary of fear. I didn’t accept it when I was diagnosed, when I started medication or therapy, when I started to get out more, working, studying, with family or friends. I realised I was ok with dealing with my mental health when I acknowledged that if I can’t live without it, I will learn to live with it.
That was my experience, and I always make sure to mention that. I know it could have taken me longer to accept it. It could have happened whenever, the fact that it happened then was because I was ready even if I didn’t know it. It’s just like how I feel now, that I can live my life despite the depression and anxiety. Just accepting it and being aware, makes it so much easier for me to face it.
I still get breathless, my heart pounds so hard I feel I might die some times. Sometimes my stomach drops a hundred feet, soemtimes I just can’t get out of bed because I am scared of the day ahead. The tremors are sometimes unstoppable and sleep sometimes evades me for days.
The upcoming travelling scares me. It’s the first time in more than a year that I am travelling alone. Heck, this is the first time I have lived alone in more than a year! This seemed impossible. Even now I am in awe of myself. I am an inspiration to myself.
I know that sounds self-indulgent but this is the first time in my life that I am proud of myself and am taking full credit for it. It’s emotional. It really is. I have been my worst bully, I have thrown at myself the worst insults. I have been my own harasser. Yesterday when I told myself I was beautiful I also said, “sorry,” and it killed me.
All my life I’ve searched for validation, and I went looking for it everywhere, from others, from people, parents, friends, teachers and professors. Do you know how it feels to realise that all you’ve been trying to do all your life is looking for validation in your own eyes?
I have looked into the mirror all my life hoping to see someone else in it. It’s terrible. Yesterday I saw myself for the first time, and held eye contact. I can’t explain it. It was a huge barrier I crossed. For me it was incredible. I am glad the moment came now. Imagine if I’d lived torturing myself like this for another fifty years, it gives me goosebumps.