Life is absolutely ridiculously hard and having chronic illnesses and family drama doesn’t help ease the load of learning to manage a budget all your own and survive those rough college finals. If you decide to add pursuing dreams now (instead of waiting for twenty five thousand years) to the list- well you’re in for a treat.
The kind that tastes like moldy bread.
I don’t actually know what that tastes like… just roll with me.
My first years of becoming an adult were really hard. Cause duh. It’s that way for everyone!
But seriously. When I turned 19, I was a workaholic putting on a huge outdoor event for a thousand people, facing my dad’s sudden diagnosis with stage three cancer and the start of a whole crappy chronic-illness adventure of my own. When I was 20, I focused on recovering from the death of my grandpa and a dear friend, struggling to come to grips with my FMS diagnosis, trying to heal from a childhood trauma that was finally being addressed, and climbing my way out of the murky depths of fear after my parents suddenly got divorced. Then I hit 21 and life seemed to get better only to hit another really rough patch with the fibro and the heartbreak of that on-again-off-again relationship I keep bringing up, oh and my entire life will change starting on August 1st.. but I’ll get to that on August 1st.
I haven’t talked about it much because it gets such a bad rep in the Christian department- but all of this made me severely depressed. Wishing-death-on-myself depressed.
On the outside I was a strong shoulder for my family and friends and anybody who needed me; on the inside I was a desolate wilderness of heartache and desperation to feel anything other than this gnawing pit of hatred and sadness.
I remember having a very frank conversation with a friend in which I off-handedly told her during a rare soul-purge: “If I didn’t think it’d land me in hell, I’d definitely have killed myself by now.”
I know that’s an ugly thing to say, especially for a Christian… I know we aren’t supposed to say things like that or admit to thinking things like that, but it was the God’s honest truth. I’m embarrassed to share that truth, but as I’ve said before- I don’t believe in secrets. I was in a really, really dark place.
I didn’t talk to anyone about it, just kept it all trapped inside and pretended not to feel it.
Eventually, I didn’t feel it. I wasn’t a happy person, I just became good at boxing up and shoving the emotions of pain into my heart’s creepy attic.
I hid behind snarky-but-true comments and cynical laughter that had the whole world thinking I was hurting but okay.
I was drowning in frustration. I was angry at everyone around me (I still struggle with this) and wanted to slap or punch literally everyone for the dumbest stuff. I never did, of course, but I wanted to.
So mom suggested I (read: forced me to) see a therapist. I think I only had three sessions with the lady in total, but they helped.
You may be wondering why I shared all of that. Well this is it:
It’s okay to talk about it. In fact you should. And if you can’t bring yourself to unload your problems on friends and family, it’s okay to see a “shrink” and it’s okay to cry about all your problems to a stranger.
I didn’t waltz out of those sessions feeling like Queen Rachel of the Happy Village Full of Happy People, but I did come out with a better grasp on reality.
The therapist helped me acknowledge my pain (emotional and physical) and helped me logic-out what I was feeling about others.
She reminded me that it’s okay to feel.
Because of her, I’ve slowly been dragging those boxes down from the attic. I’ve been sifting through them over time and I’m nowhere near finished. But it’s working. Some of the pain is being unloaded from my heart as I empty the boxes.
My method has been writing my memoir(s?) because my therapist jokingly suggested I write a soap opera about my life. I’ll show her. I’m definitely worth a NYT Bestseller over some lame soap.
Anyways- there have been some total and complete meltdowns along the way. I randomly terrified a friend by dumping all the hate and pain and sadness I’d been trapping in my heart’s attic in a very not ladylike, not Christlike, manner on them (not the method I suggest for talking about it)… don’t worry, I repented for it all later. And just Friday night, I had a middle of the night melt where I bawled like a baby to my mom and Thomas and Sarah (which was a weird role-reversal thing that I’m not sure I liked).
I still have a lot of crap to go through. I should probably schedule another session because some old resentments have started to flare up and I’m starting to feel that suffocating anxious-depression-and-I-hate-all-people-everywhere thing again.
But I’m healing.
Grief is hard. Life is hard.
It doesn’t have to be faced silently.
And it’s not all in your head (or maybe it is, the therapist can help you determine that – some of my issues were just in my head). It’s okay to tell someone about it. I promise you, it’ll help.
So if you’re barely breathing because feeling is just too painful, get help.
You are so very incredibly worth it.
Have you ever seen a therapist? What are your thoughts on it all- did it help? Do you keep things pent up or do you generally dump all your problems out via words?
Check back tomorrow for the next segment in this surviving-the-transition series!