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How I've Learned to Express Myself on the Days Life Is Tough

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I can remember the first day I needed to ask for help.

I remember how scared and frightened I was when I went in to see my doctor.

But I remember the relief when, finally, I found out what was “wrong” with me.

• What is PTSD?

Living with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is like living under rain clouds and walking through a dark forest; not being able to see what’s in front of you, and trying to function with anxiety levels that can rise unexpectedly from the simplest of things every single day.

It’s living somewhere where the heat’s turned up so high, but you feel so cold.

Over the years, by numerous people, I’ve been told to “express” myself; and I’ve been shown a number of ways, journaling for example. While these were all good ideas and helped me a lot, I never felt these were good ways to express myself.

And then I stumbled on poetry.

I remember reading and trying to write poetry in school. While I never thought anything of them, little did I realize I would turn to it once again.

But I’ve never followed the “guidelines” of regular poetry, it’s more free verse.

And let me tell you, it’s been a huge lifesaver.

It’s helped me express things I’ve felt inside for so long, but could never express, the days when life was tough and I wanted to give up, the overwhelming days and the days where nothing I did helped.

And you’re probably wondering, “What’s with the picture at the top?”

Let’s get to that.

Part of this group that my counselor thought was a good idea was an “art therapy” session where we traced our hands and colored them in. While I was finishing mine up with the hearts in the middle, I came up with the title “Remember to Love Yourself,” and it hit me, straight in the face, a poem to go along with this picture.

So here it goes:

Remember you are strong,
remember you are loved;
Remember the battles you’ve faced,
and the victories you’ve celebrated.
Remember the fears you’ve overcome,
and the things that made you weak.
Remember how you’ve conquered the days,
even in the darkest of nights,
and loneliness of days,
you’ve overcome them all.
Remember all the people you’ve inspired,
the ones who thought you’d make it,
and the ones who didn’t.
Remember those who you’ve lost along the way,
the ones that say “I care”
but run the other way
when life gets tough.
Remember those that stayed,
through the darkest parts,
through the forest of despair,
and the field of shame,
guilt, hopelessness.
Remember to hold onto hope,
not letting go of that rope,
when you want to give in.
Remember those who love you,
and have stuck by you,
You’ve touched a lot of lives,
because of your story.
Take these hands, and do no harm, but do good, to yourself, and others

What I’ve learned over the years is we can make it through, even with a few “close” people. And I’ve had to learn the hard way that people who I thought would be there aren’t, but others are and have still been there.

This is my lesson to myself, for the days that are rough. Remember: you are loved, you matter and the world would not be the same without you in it.

Image via contributor

Originally published: September 25, 2020
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