I spent an entire day in bed last week. I didn’t even put on clothes. Clothes are for people who have lives. Places to be, people to talk to. I often feel I don’t have any of that. It’s just me, my thoughts, and my feelings. Sometimes I get a sense of an inner stillness. A joy that’s so deep and so big, it envelops everything around me and radiates from the inside out.
But those moments are fleeting, at least these days.
I try not to listen to the voice in my head. The one that tells me I’m not good enough, that I’ll never be anything. But it’s hard. It’s hard because the voice is my oldest companion, my longest friend. It warns me not to try that thing I’ve been longing to do, I might fail.
The voice cautions me not to go outside, there are people out there who might want to talk to me. It’s not safe. When I start to think and feel like I might want to explore the Great Outdoors (re: anywhere outside my home) the voice gives me a long list of reasons why that’s not a good idea.
- You can’t leave the house, you’re a mess and haven’t showered.
- Ok you’re showered, there’s nothing to wear. I guarantee you’ll feel uncomfortable in anything you put on, might as well stay in bed.
- Did you forget, THERE ARE PEOPLE OUT THERE?!?! What if they want to talk to you? You have nothing to say.
- There’s too much traffic, better stay home.
- You live at the top of the hill, do you really want to go all the way down there?
- Who’s going to pet the cats if you leave?
The list goes on and on.
More than anything, I long to escape this voice. To transcend the madness.
I’ve had glimpses of a life without anxiety and depression. Some of those glimpses lasted for weeks and in those weeks, I’ve accomplished a lot. I grew this blog. (Thanks for reading!) I started a fun challenge to alleviate depression. (It works a lot of the time!) I’ve overcome disordered eating patterns and alcoholism and fulfilled a lifelong goal of becoming a vegan.
But I’m still waiting for the moment when it’s all over. When I’ve won. When that sinking feeling is finally gone and that awful motherfucking piece of shit voice in my head is quiet. When I know and can feel there’s more to this life that meets the eye, more to ME than I could ever understand.
When I was perpetually single, I thought a relationship would cure all of my problems. When I was bulimic and anorexic, I thought having the perfect body would make me feel ok. Now I’m thin and in good shape and married to the most wonderful man I’ve ever met and I still feel the same sense of lack I’ve always had.
I want to wake up in this dream. I know it’s possible, I’ve been chasing it my whole life.
Eckert Tolle says you have to go beyond thought to find stillness. Lately I’ve been sinking below thought. It used to be through hard drugs and alcohol, now it’s smoking weed and binge watching television. Although in many ways I’m much healthier than I used to be, I still find ways to completely numb myself to this entire experience, to life itself.
And why? I’m always asking why. Why does this life feel so challenging all the time? Why do I feel so dissatisfied with myself no matter what I do? I have plenty in life to be grateful for, a fulfilling marriage, loyal friends and family, good health. And yet it’s not enough. There are weeks and even months that I wake up every single morning with a sense of panic. Each day feels like something I just have to “get through.”
But then what? What I’m I getting through to? I feel like I’m coasting through life on a wing and a prayer hoping that one day I’ll feel ok. I believe it can get better and in the meantime, I’m doing everything I can to not give up hope.
I’m doing an 8th round of the #30dayfunchallenge. Cause if I don’t, I may never leave the house again. I’m making plans with friends and not cancelling them even though I feel awkward around people these days. I’m going to yoga and staying active, a healthy body can lead to a healthy mind. I got rid of my weed with plans to take a nice long break. (Lord help me.)
Throughout the day, I take long, deep, mindful breaths to remind myself that there is nothing tangibly wrong with me. Breathe in, breathe out, don’t die. You’ve got this. It might not feel like I do, but sometimes that glimmer of hope is all I have.
And then there’s a shift. A brief moment when I realize with every fiber of my being that I am ok and just being alive is a glorious feeling. More and more, I’m learning to cherish those moments. To ride the waves of happiness as far as they will take me.
I’m learning to be proud of my accomplishments. Not in an ego-driven sense but by acknowledging that how far I’ve come and the struggles I’ve faced makes me strong. Strong enough to get out of bed in the morning. Strong enough to write this post. Strong enough to put one foot in front of the other knowing that if I fall, I can get back up and try again.
I’m realizing now that it’s all about the turnaround. Everyone has moments, days, even weeks and months of feeling shitty. And that’s ok. I choose to live without medication and I know that means my lows are sometimes lower than I’d like them to be. I want to feel everything, the joy, the ecstasy, and the sometimes crippling depression. These days though, the lows don’t last that long. It’s much easier to find my way back to serenity.
I’m not my thoughts. I’m not my feelings. I’m not the voice in my head with the default setting of withdraw and panic. I am a Presence and an Awareness that lies beyond all of that. I am enough. I am ok. I am alive. And today, that feels good.
Last year I wrote a piece called, “I Quit Using Anti-Depressants and My Life Has Never Been Better.” I still, of course, have my ups and downs and sometimes that rollercoaster feels pretty rough. But I wouldn’t trade it for a prescription. I realize that living without medication is not an option for many people but it’s the path I’ve chosen and overall I’m really happy with it. It takes a lot of work to stay healthy. I regularly practice yoga and mediation. I see a talented therapist/healer who is helping me work through old issues. I write every single day to process my thoughts and feelings and I still sometimes fall back into old habits. But it does get better every single day and I’m learning to love the journey.