Keeping your head above water

How I wish I could tell myself, the self from a month or two ago, that today would be a better day. How I wish I could remind myself that there are days like today filled with infinitely more joy than suffering, if only we allow it space to enter. Somewhere in between pain and misery there’s this sliver, a chance opening, to pick apart the odds and choose a way out of it. And for a refreshing blimp in this moment, the “way out of it” would not be buried with Corpse.

But I guess in the meantime, I will write about it. I’ll write about sitting afront my desk and peering out into the world with fresh glimmers of sunlight breaking through the cracks of my blinds, how the simple joy of witnessing people walk around the pond across from me could evoke a sense of pride in living. That I, Michelle, get to witness this crazy thing called life and not only witness it, but be an active participant in it. Here’s the thing about life, it’ll happen whether or not we choose to engage with it. Life happens without our permission. Sometimes it is full of soul crushing pain. Sometimes it’s wrapped in grief. Other times it feels like a well of light and purpose and sometimes it’s none of the above. It can be mundane, it can feel silly, we can experience it as obligatory, but no matter how we experience life-we do not do so in isolation even on the days we feel very very much alone.

These past few months have been painful. The weight of my depression felt like a collapse of an era of joy and accolades. A year prior, I had just had my life transformed through a once in a lifetime fellowship opportunity. I was achieving a lot professionally and was finding my place within my community. I thought my path was headed nowhere other than up, but as we all have come to experience, life doesn’t happen linearly. Instead, for the past few months I’ve been struggling with this grueling depression that was like a wound that kept festering. My depression was a wound too stubborn, too lost, too mesmerized by all the depths of pain, to know how to heal.

I tried leaning outwards, towards those around me, but my social circle has rapidly minimized to an intimate and small group of friends and family since the pandemic started two years ago. In the wake of this depression, I tried very hard to stay connected but depression is a shadow that makes the indentations of your bed feel like the closest thing to refuge.

Depression feels like drowning, except you’re the water and you’re witnessing everything you love become enveloped to your own wreckage.

Yes, sometimes I wished upon death as if it were a prayer. Yes, sometimes I called for it, taunted it, to see how close I could get. Depression is misery and I wanted my way out. Not having the people I had grown close to hurt a lot. Not being able to perform and contribute the same way in school and work felt embarrassing. The story was no longer, “How did I get here?” but “How will I see myself out?”

After a long period of depression, you may find that the answer to that question can be opportunistic and hopeful or it can be finite and bleak. For a while, it was the latter. I buried myself in my misery. Someone in treatment once told me, “Pain is inevitable, but misery is choice,” and whether I would agree that I was choosing this for myself, I definitely wasn’t fighting against it as hard anymore.

Did I lose a lot in the acceptance of misery? To be determined. I know I haven’t been as present in my family’s life as I would have liked. I know I haven’t tended to my friendships as much as I used to, but the great thing about choosing to find your way out of the abyss of depression is that nothing you lose from here on out will be as unfortunate as the loss of your own life.

You get this. All of it. All the nooks and crannies of your mere existence, you get. So what are you going to do with this precious time that we have? What are you going to do to keep your head above water? How are you going to show up for yourself today? What’s going to be your “why”? Tell me, how will you get there?

All the love,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: