There are people who’ve been through extreme difficulties in their life that will probably tell you something like: “I’m saying this to you now because I know what it’s like. It’s really important that you catch yourself before you fall.” I’d say that it’s actually important that you let yourself fall.
After I came to terms with my childhood trauma, I spent about a year in denial; I pushed people away, I abused different drugs, I self-harmed, I spent days in bed, I began to purge almost every time I ate, and I began to isolate myself. The silence in my head was getting really loud, and all I wanted to do was quiet it.
As time went by, I lost myself in the sadness, anger, rage and hopelessness that wrapped around me like a blanket. I forgot who I was. All I knew was “This is what happened to me, that’s all I am.” I believed this for a long time and perhaps part of me still does.
But this is where things change.
It was midnight, and after so many months of doing nothing but sulking in my sadness and watching shows and movies online, I decided it was time for me to make a change. I came across an article by a writer named Cristian Mihai, who wrote: “It is also important to know that there’s nothing you can do to help you from getting hurt every once in a while. If you isolate yourself from the world, solitude will slowly eat away your soul. If you act as if you don’t care about anyone or anything, you’ll end up feeling empty on the inside.”
So, as a result, I opened my laptop and began to write. I thought to myself: “I can’t be the only one who feels this way, right? Perhaps others are scared to come forward.” Writing can be a form of creative self-expression, and since writing online gives people across the world access to my content, it can make us all feel connected to one another. It can level the overwhelming feeling of loneliness and helplessness we feel, quieting the silence that floods our mind on a daily basis.
Many months ago, I started working with a new therapist, and something incredible happened. As time went by, I forgot myself. I forgot my pain. I started to smile again. As you may have read on “An Open Letter To My Therapist”, she re-connected me with a version of myself that I thought died a long time ago, when PTSD entered my life. I began to feel joy, excitement, hope and motivation. She may not wear an “S” on her chest, but she became the hero I needed in my life.
She taught me that I can’t believe in my own negative thoughts but expect a positive reality. How no matter how much darkness may come into my life, that, although difficult, I was capable of coming out of it alive. I used to fear going to sleep because I knew that once I did, I’d experience nightmares. Now? Sure, I am scared, but I have enough hope to want to sleep through the night just so that I could see the sun rise.
I firmly believe that you can only reach the top once you’ve sunk so low that you’ve hit the bottom. Because sometimes, you need to fall down in order to see the best possible path up.
I haven’t reached the top yet, but I can honestly say that as someone who still struggles and lives in pain every single day, hope is the most powerful weapon in my arsenal. All the pain I’ve ever felt in my life came from me trying to be someone I’m not, avoid the harsh reality of my life, but you know what? You can’t do that. If we’re honest with what we want out of life, if we truly keep at it, most of the time, life gives a form of that to us.
When I realized that I couldn’t skip ahead to only experience the good parts of life, I learned that your thoughts create your reality, and your reality is based on the experiences you’ve gone through and what you chose to do with your pain and suffering.
I’ve hated myself for so long, and I still do, in many ways, for being someone that needs to find a way to adapt to what he struggles with; I live with PTSD, and I’m not your fancy college graduate with a degree. I don’t have a lot of money, and I don’t go out drinking with friends. I’m just a human whose life went sideways, and my biggest goal is to just get through the day, remain positive and feel strong. Be happy. I guess I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I said to myself and the world: You know what? F*ck it. I live for myself, not for the world. Let them think what they want. I need to focus on myself and make sure that I’m happy and healthy now, because now is all we have, we’re not guaranteed a tomorrow, we’re not guaranteed a future. I started to work on finally waking up and not regretting the day before it even began.
Mental illness isn’t a sign of weakness. It is a sign of being strong for too long, and giving our brain some time to process and heal, aiding it in a way that will help it, help you.
After all, as Ted Mosby says, “We’re going to get older whether we like it or not, so the only question is whether we get on with our lives, or desperately cling to the past.”