Warning — This is a final post. It will be long. Bear with me.
As I sat in front of my screen last year on the night of 30th June, 2015, I thought to myself that I needed help. I needed purpose.
Let me give you some context.
This is what I was a year back — S was a journalist, still. I still called myself that. I wrote in little notebooks of how I didn’t know where I was going, but I woke up every day and sat down to work on a job I didn’t care about at all. Some days, though, I didn’t get up. I just lay in bed and wondered what it was like to be free of inhibition and fear. I was afraid I was screwing up. If you asked anyone in my life — any of my best friends or my parents — I was doing very well for myself. My employers might have agreed that I was doing a decent job. But, I lay in bed on some mornings crying. Crying would be an understatement. I’d wake up, have a shower, get ready to start the day and then curl up on the bed wondering why I am such a goddamned fuck up.
The cycle was simple but self-destructive. I started by wondering where my life was going, then wondering why I didn’t have an answer to that, cursing myself for not having thought of answers to the question and then hating myself for not being smart enough to think of one in the moment. I would break down thinking how I have never been good enough to really handle anything real or handle anything at all.
Welcome to high-functioning anxiety.
I could tell you some sort of strange trauma caused this. But, truth is, I have always been this person carrying a monster on my back for no reason — a monster that whispers to me every second of every day about how incompetent I am or how ugly I am.
It said the same things till I started believing in them.
I had been hearing these things in my head since I was 13, but I never told anyone. These voices told me I was better off dead and told me how I should kill myself. These voices told me I didn’t deserve any of the praise I got for any of the work I did because I was a phony and that’s all I will ever be.
I googled my symptoms and always found myself hitting the wall with the same answers — major to minor depression (depending on how particularly bad the days were) and/or anxiety. The words lingered in my head like labels that I refused to accept, but let them stick anyway.
At 16, I had my first panic attack in school. A friend then saved me by just writing me a letter about having faith in myself and in God. I wish I could give you a better story, but I cannot lie. So, I will tell you that opening up myself to faith in a higher power saved me. Trusting implicitly and completely saved me then. But, I still didn’t know how long I’d hold up.
I stood on the terrace of the house we lived in and stared at the skies hoping I’ll get an answer. I didn’t even trust my parents to understand. I sang to save myself. I also started writing to save myself. My diaries from 2009 will tell you how little I valued my life.
By the time I turned 17, I told myself that I won’t live beyond 20.
But, I fell in love.
They say that being loved gives you strength. But, loving someone gives you courage. Not only did I find the courage to love with my eyes shut and my heart wide open, but also found the courage to live despite what the monster on my back told me. For the first time in my life, I felt good about myself. While those close to me (including the person in question here) would say that this love did nothing for me, they don’t realise how on the really bad days, I reminded myself that I had someone to look forward to.
For once, I found home in someone.
So when I realised I was the only one who felt that way, I spent months not eating, not sleeping and just crying myself to sleep. I was wrecked. But, I was not beyond repair. I fixed things myself when I found friends who loved me and made peace with love.
I spent the next four years oscillating between good and bad days, but never really sinking into a pit till I turned 22.
Turning 22 ruined me.
I had lost purpose, I was spending more days in bed than outside, my friends were leaving the country one by one and I had no plans for anything in my life. I started doubting the reasons that kept me alive and the reasons I worked so hard to become a journalist. I was disillusioned and hurt every time adulthood slapped me in the face. My mother worried, but never asked. I was always told I need to “snap out of it” or “get a handle on myself” or “lose weight to feel better about myself.”
There would be days that I would stop walking in the middle of traffic hoping something would run me over just so that the voices in my head would stop talking. The value of my own life started dropping faster than the Pound on the day of the Brexit.
One day, I gave up and told my friend I needed help. I was on my knees and looking towards heaven again. Everything I depended on was starting to fail me. Neither could singing nor writing save me. Or so I thought.
Asking for help gave me perspective I needed. As I sat in my shrink’s office, drawing pictures and talking about things, I realised I just needed perspective. She told me, “It’s okay. You’re a work-in-progress. Take things one day at a time.”
It wasn’t something I didn’t already know. It was just what I needed to hear.
That brings me back to the day I started the blog. I just started writing and I knew I had found my purpose. I had found something to do every day for the next year. Did it help? I don’t know.
But, here’s what happened in the past year — I realised it was okay to ask for help. I realised I didn’t have to hide my fears from anyone. Everyone was in the same boat as me. It may not be with the same intensity, but they knew what I was feeling. Love saved me again and again, in different ways and from different corners in ways that I least expected it to. I started working at my dream job. I learned to be thankful for every day that I was alive because I knew what it was like to want to die. At the end of every day, I thanked the universe for happiness in any form because I knew its value.
If you’re wondering about the monster on my back, I learned to shut it down when I realised it wasn’t helping me or contributing to my life anymore. I still have bad days and I still find myself crying myself to sleep. But, I have more mornings seeing me be able to get out of bed than mornings where I refuse to wake up and face my life. The monster always has something to say and I always have something to shut it up. There will be days where it will tell me I am not good enough, but today I want to prove it wrong a lot more than I did before.
I am writing this because any time you (or I) read this, I want you to know you’re not alone. You’re never alone. You’re always enough. You’re going to be okay. Even if you’re not, you’re going to find a way to be okay with things around you.
This is the last blog post I will be writing here. It has been a year since I started this project and the support has been overwhelming. People asked me through the past year, “How have you been able to write about something every single day? How have you had the patience to do this?”
Truth is, I haven’t. The last three months have seen me slacking off and worrying about this every day, making me anxious. I still tried because I wanted to do this. I needed the blog because writing became an act of survival. I really wanted to have one thing to be able to tie purpose to. I had that for a year and it changed me for the better. Or at least, I’d like to think so. My parents might disagree.
What will I do next? I don’t know. But, I know I am still taking things one day at a time.
366 days down.
Zero to go.
Track for the day – Closing Time by Semisonic