“There is a song by The Lumineers. It’s called Deadsea. There is a verse that really spoke to me at a time where I was at a significant crossroads;
“Yes, there are times we live for somebody else Your father died and you decided to live It for yourself you felt, you just felt it was time And I’m glad, cause you with cats, that’s just not right.”
My Father died and I had decided to live my life for myself. That’s exactly what I did. And boy did that open the mother of all cans of worms. I had sloppy execution and made some decent mistakes. But in the end it worked out for the better. I found my true self. I found happiness.
Up until then I had lived a life of people pleasing. I feared upsetting people through my words or actions so I carefully walked the line. I settled and accepted less of myself for the sake of others. I sacrificed my mental health out of fear of being judged as weak and incapable. I feared acknowledging my demons for they may consume me. Lead me into a room of darkness. Never to return. Loosing everything. More than once I was willing to trade my life for peace.
I bottled everything up. Placed the jars neatly on a shelf. Bottle after bottle. Jar after jar. Each labeled with some personal cryptic Dewey Decimal system. All organized and precariously stacked. I had done this since I was an elementary aged child. Once in a while a jar would slip off. Shattering into a million pieces. I’d be distraught in my attempt to hurriedly sweep it under the preverbal rug. Shards rising from the fibers.
I was almost 30 when my Father died. After he left, the entire storage system fell apart. The jars started falling off the shelf in rapid fire pace. I kept trying to catch them. It was so overwhelming. I slowly began to implode. I couldn’t keep the sadness hidden. I couldn’t ‘people please’ anymore. I was cloaked in apathy and I didn’t care what a single person thought of me. Not one.
I cried. I let it out. And, to my disappointment, it fell onto blank stares. No support. Nothing. So I gave up. I lost all inhibition. I continued not to care. I lost a dramatic amount of weight which was again met with blank stares. So I started over. I decided to live my life for myself. And I did. I walked away.
Three years after my Dad died I asked for help. For myself. It was the scariest moment of my life. I had never felt so vulnerable and empowered. I showed up at the hospital and they gave me a counselor. She put me in a 12 week DBT program then she and I began to meet weekly. I cried a lot. Accepted that medication would complement my treatment plan. I met with additional psychologist who diagnosed me with depression, anxiety and PTSD. Hearing the diagnosis was difficult. I felt labeled and damaged. But I continued with my weekly sessions. They transitioned to bi-weekly and then monthly over time. At some point my counselor referred me to an induvial who specialized in anxiety. He sealed the deal. I met with him weekly, then bi-weekly, monthly then bi-monthly. I felt brave. I felt in control of what can’t be controlled. I had controlled the power to accept it. I accepted my ever present anxiety, learned to harness it at times and let it run its course during other times. I’ve accepted that I’m susceptible to depression. And that allowing the depressed moods to run their course is much healthier than fighting it, pushing it away, placing it in a jar.
It’s such a sad and heavy burden to feel alone while surrounded by people. It’s still here at times. It can be overwhelming. The difference is I’m not adding to the damage that’s been done. I’m able to cope with most curveballs thrown my way. Some take longer to catch than others. I’m able to talk about it. Own it. But the old wounds are there. They seep sadness into my days. I’ve learned that I just have to allow it and then mindfully redirect my thoughts back to the present. Because the present is where life is lived.”
-By Sommer Phlipot.
You can follow Sommer’s personal journey with mental health and self-improvement on her blog here at The Green Glasses.
Themanicyears is still looking for people to share their stories! If you have an experience with Mental Health you would like to share on here, please do not hesitate to drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org, and get your story published on our “Sharing Stories” feature. – M.