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On the Days I Feel Like I'm Failing at Life

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I love journaling. It’s an evidence-based means to hard copying my thoughts and self-reflection. When I write, I was always waiting until I was feeling better, just so I could pen down the good and the bad. But through that, it was misleading to some people. I was not able to capture the essence of thoughts and the real challenges. Challenges that prove to be insurmountable odds sometimes. So for today, I will be real.

I feel like a complete mess today.

You know you’re having a bad day when anything that can go wrong, went wrong. During your quiet moments at the end of the day, you sum up your day that way.

Spilled your coffee on your carpet — Gasped

The darn laptop keeps breaking down — Annoyed

Finally, the tech works and the first email is a scathing one — Irritation

Lunch catches fire and burns through — Anger

Mid-year appraisal pulls up some nasty feedback — Crestfallen

Caught in the rain on the way home — Soaked and flat

And it’s OK.

One might look objectively from the outside and ponder, don’t sweat the small things. But then again, having a concoction of clinical depression and high anxiety for the past decade surely did not prep my fragile mind against mini setbacks, all compressed in the happenings of a single day.

So how could one end up like this? Being triggered so easily, so often. I’d put it down to not dealing with failures early enough, objectively enough.

Reflecting back, it’s easy to understand how I became who I am today, a little jaded and broken in life. To be fair, the younger me was driven, ambitious and committed to passion. I wanted everything and wanted to be everything. Pushing, grinding hard, always on the get-go.

I was on the feel good train that was never going to stop and I felt invincible. Yet, along the way, I met a series of similar setbacks but conveniently chose to ignore them by shelving them on the dusty rack of bad vibes. I akin it to speeding a sports-car on a highway, with speed bumps every ten meters. After 10 miles on the gallon, one’s mind starts playing games.

After years of not dealing properly with failure, it snowballed and haunted me with a vengeance. There is nothing forever in life and when the music stops and the party end, one feel the loneliest in the middle of the dance floor, with no one but oneself.

The initial reaction was fierce denial, followed by fighting back with all my might.

What is this nonsense called depression?

It cannot be happening to me.

I look OK each day I look in the mirror.

And then reality hits, it got weary and there’s nothing that makes it pretty. People around you start noticing. Fewer words happen, one’s social circle shrinks and you feel like the day you did when you lost all control. Because you realize that for all the work you put in, you still live in a cave and that’s where you’re at.

Only with acceptance, could I start seeking treatment. All in all, it took me six full years before I sought diagnosis and treatment. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, multiple hospital staycations and a concoction of drugs, both new and tested ones later, I found my feet and my life, even if it’s a small part of it back.

But I’m one of the lucky ones.

Research shows people with mood disorders take on average up to eight years before they sought help, from a variety of reasons. And mental disorders now develop in our teenagers as young as 14 years old.

The odds are stacked even higher when we grow into a system where schools don’t talk enough about how to handle failing, not necessarily encouraging failure. The work environment highlights top performers and social media glorifies what we have, not what we don’t.

In a world where we compare inevitably and constantly, I’ll like to say, it’s OK to start a conversation about failing. Failing is not the same as a failure. One is the effect most of us will always be guaranteed to experience at least once in life, while the latter is a label, which dead ends things. But if we don’t speak up and deal with the natural act of failing, we end up harvesting the bad vibes that come along with failing and let it snowball.

Because I lived the other life as well and understood both sides, it’s such irony I compare the before and after as part of reflection, but only so to understand how important it is to start a conversation about our mental health.

As much as we need to celebrate the small wins in our career and life, there is a need to face bumps on the road and talk about it. For failure is not the opposite of success; it is part of it.

And I encourage you to start speaking up about the F word today — failing.

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Originally published: February 10, 2021
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