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Read This If You’re Looking for a Reason to Keep Going

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Depression, anxiety, chronic pain and a cheerful, sunny disposition — me in a nutshell. The truth is, I have no idea how I’m surviving other than I just keep going. I just keep getting up and telling myself to breathe (sometimes I forget to breathe). I tell myself to swing my legs out of bed and force my torso to follow suit. I tell myself coffee is waiting and it’s perfectly OK to have a cup at 3 a.m. because nightmares are what startled me out of sleep and who wants to face that again? I tell myself it’s early and who knows what the day will bring, and I tell myself it’s perfectly OK to not want to participate (knowing I have to anyway). I tell myself all of these things just to survive the day.

I have lived with this life for over two decades, I’ve pretty much mastered surviving. Now, if I could master living, well, what would that even look like?! I get little glimpses every now and then, little breaks in the clouds where the light comes beaming through and I become astonished by the moment because my being recognizes it as something outside of the norm. I hold those moments close and sear them into my mind so in times like this, I can go back there and replay them.

The moments that pull me through and convince me to keep going are things people probably wouldn’t think are very important, and yet to me, they are quite literally life-saving. Things like my husband making coffee for me every morning, making people around me laugh, my favorite music, reading a new book, taking in someone’s story for the first time, cooking good food, playing games with friend — trivia wakes my brain up and Cards Against Humanity makes my face hurt from laughing. It’s learning new things, exploring why we humans do what we do and think what we think. Giving back to society in different ways, listening for hours on end to conversations about life or my husband sharing his thoughts. Looking at the sky, the clouds are my favorite, wandering through my mind, my brain fascinates me. Looking at art and wondering what the artist was thinking while they created their piece. Watching my favorite movies over again and gaining something new from them every time. Love, knowing I am loved. These are the things that keep me alive.

Seems so simple, right? I have to constantly remind myself these things exist and are real to keep going. I have to remind myself of what I’d miss if I gave up. I don’t take anything for granted, I suppose it’s because I know how quickly it can all go away. You wouldn’t know any of these things by looking at me, you might know them if we sat down to have a beyond-the-surface conversation, though. Oh yeah, add that to the list, too — beyond-the-surface conversations, those are most definitely worth getting out of bed for.

I sank into my favorite corner of the couch this morning with the intention to write a “how to” for anyone who needs it. And I feel a bit like this has become my reminder list of how to stay alive.

My hope is you’ll find yourself among some of the words and realize sometimes the smallest things are the biggest things to someone you care about. If you’re like me and you are looking for a reason to stay, my hope is you’ll fight through the pain that threatens to steal all the good and see you’re not as alone as your mind might try to make you think.

Getty image by nadia_bormotova

Originally published: April 18, 2021
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