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The First Step to Being OK Is Admitting When You're Not

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Everything around me was buzzing. There was lively chatter. There were people everywhere. But I felt nothing. I felt numb and alone, and as the lump in my throat formed I knew what was coming. I was going to cry and as someone who doesn’t cry often it was a foreign feeling.

I knew my depression and anxiety were giving me shit. I could feel it when I woke up in the morning and I was starting to forget the reason I was even here anymore. Then the affixation of whether I made the right decision sets in. I focus on it and tear it apart as I try to ease my mind and give me some temporary relief. But it wasn’t going to come as easy this time.

I hate when people say you’re fine or you’ll be fine. I know I’m fine, but I don’t want to be just fine. I want to feel happy. Even as I sat in one of the most beautiful cities in the world with amazing people I had just met, I wondered if this was it. If this is what my life was going to be for the rest of my days. If I was going to have to keep moving, keep meeting new people to feel the momentary high that makes everything worth it.

I was always good at faking my smile. I think it’s because it’s the only thing that came naturally. Even in the saddest, most uncomfortable moments there is always a smile plastered on my face. And maybe that’s what confuses people. Maybe I’m not able to open up and tell people that right now I’m struggling so hard to just stay afloat. To continue to look at myself in the mirror and not hate the reflection and fake smile looking back at me.

I was tired of being nice. I just wanted to be mean, to be angry. But I wasn’t ever allowed to be angry. As soon as my personality changed from bubbly to even slightly upset, people treated me as if I had a disease and they would actively avoid me or bombard me with questions. I hated feeling like I could never be anything but happy because it would burden the rest of the world.

So I hide it. I don’t tell people the shit that hurts or confront the assholes who’ve taken advantage. I bury it down deep until it explodes out in self-hatred. How could I be so stupid to let people come into my life, take what they need and go again? How could I think my life would fix itself if I don’t ever want to confront the issues?

That’s the thing about reflection. Sometimes the deeper you dig, the more things you see that you don’t like, things you desperately want to change. Memories you didn’t want to ever think of again. Or the people who hurt you but you still don’t hate and probably won’t ever, because hating them would take away from hating yourself.

I hate giving people advice anymore. It felt so cheesy and hypocritical to tell people how to be happy when I couldn’t even do it for myself. I don’t mind listening to people who are upset but I feel like I have nothing to offer them but tired old clichés and sympathetic nods. I didn’t even know who I wanted to be anymore, let alone be able to give someone what they need right now.

So what happens when you get so deep down the tunnel that digging yourself out seems like an impossible task?

I think you give yourself a fucking break.

That’s it. Give yourself a break. Worry about nothing but yourself. The people who love you will always be there if they are truly meant to be. Self-care is never selfish. It’s also OK to just not be always happy. Know you’re resilient and that in time you’ll get back to yourself.

This is the time when I need to take my own advice and give myself a break, even though right now all I want to do is tear myself down. Eventually, bit by bit, I’ll get back to me. But it takes time and I’m starting to be OK with that.

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Unsplash photo by Mike Wilson

Originally published: May 20, 2017
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