“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
There’s a vulnerable side in all of us that we do not feel comfortable showing or exposing to others. It’s hard to be open and honest with the agony we go through but I hope in sharing my personal story, this creates more mindfulness around the well-being and mental health of our community. The challenge is people often wear masks to hide how they are truly feeling so it’s difficult to tell who’s not okay. We live in a society where discussion around mental health is not well understood and is still considered a stigma though initiatives exists with the intention to decrease barriers by normalizing mental health. I hope this reaches anyone who is going through the same thing to get the help they need.
Overcoming the Dark Clouds.
I had a perfectionist personality. I’ve always set incredibly high standards for myself and would beat myself up if I couldn’t met them. To add to that, my perceptions of the world were distorted. Destructive thinking was habitual and so normal it stopped me from living freely and being happy.
I suffered from severe depression. I was fortunate to get help before it became worse. It wasn’t long ago that I started on the road to recovery with therapy. Throughout this semester I have come to realize and understood more about myself and my mental prison along with the the impacts behind my actions, the coping methods, and destructive cycles that I have self-perpetuated. There are things I regret doing. I wish I could change them but it’s important to not dwell in the past. Although I cannot undo my actions, I know a little bit more about myself and what I want so I take it as a lesson and seek to approach it differently the next time.
I had a dark cloud in my head. A cloud that I thought for years could just go away. Something that could be disregarded and ignored. But I learned it couldn’t. Little did I know it harvested anger, resentment, jealousy, and sadness. I’ve recognized it’s a part of me and if not properly dealt with can come back with a vengeance. If I am engulfed in my own negative thoughts, no matter how far I run, the cloud will catch up and drag me back into the same dark hole I’ve crawled out from.
When the dark cloud is fed with negative thoughts, it removes your sense of control. It lives through the mind’s underlying emotions and trauma from the past as well as the present. It is sometimes difficult to pinpoint the root cause and triggers to it.
The dark cloud has a mind of its own and has the power to alter how you perceive the world. It steals all the energy, goals, and motivations you may have and leaves you feeling empty and alone. In your waking moment, you are just a shell. Your body moves, but your soul has left you. Stripped of the energy to accomplish daily tasks, you lay in bed all day and do absolutely nothing. You close your eyes and wish for your soul to sleep and never wake up again.
I was successful in creating a mask for myself that prevented me from opening up how I really felt. In a sense, I became a part of the stigma as I downplayed my emotions a lot so I could feel normal and fit in. I felt I couldn’t express how I really felt with anyone. In ignoring the condition I was in, I was allowing the dark clouds to take over.
Experience is what shapes who we are at the present moment. We can’t control what happens to us, but we can change our approaches such as our way of thinking. This creates the ability to overcome adversities and yields a resilient individual who has the strength and hope for the future. Life is so unpredictable and full of complexities. One of the most insightful things I have come to realize is everyone is fighting their own battles in life and I am not alone in struggling to get by. We’re fighting to find our place and purpose in this world.
I came so close to dropping out in the middle of my school semester. I felt that I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have the strength and energy to continue. But what gave me strength to overcome those dark clouds was a phone call reaching out to my mom. I slowly remembered the reason why I was here. Getting a degree wasn’t just for myself. I want to contribute to creating a better world for others and to positively impact communities. Another driving force was doing all this for my parents who have made sacrifices to give my brother and I a better life. They’ve opened up a world of possibility for us they’ve never had growing up and worked hard for it through their blood, sweat, tears, and unconditional love.
I wanted change. One of the most important steps in overcoming adversity is acknowledging you want change to happen and being aware it can’t be done alone. It’s a terrifying first step mixed with emotions of shamefulness, fear, and uncertainty. But to have the courage to move forward will lead you to a better place.
Although you reach out for help, that doesn’t mean the battle is over. You still need to understand yourself and your rationale behind your actions, way of thinking, perceptions, and adopt skills to developing more healthy, realistic habits which takes time and practice. The strongest impact comes from opening up to the people you love and walking through the process together.
The Power of People
Why is this more effective in making change?
We need people. It’s because they care and they want to do what they can to help you back on your feet. Humans are social beings and by nature attribute meaning to things. We find purpose in the actions we undergo and the experiences we have.
If I were able to visit my younger self, I would assure her practice and patience is needed in changing unhealthy habits (i.e. negative thinking). What she is going through can be overcome, but is not something that can be done alone. Also, things will get better because time is healing.
There’s always a hello to a good bye, a beacon of light amidst the darkness and despite the sadness and pain that’s experienced, it is accompanied by one of the greatest gift of life, happiness.
Embrace life fearlessly. Because life can get better. It will.