Allow Yourself to be Uncomfortable in Your Healing
I think through the process of battling so many different strains of mental illness for such an extended period of time, it almost became something I identified myself with. Not out loud, nor did people even know I struggled for a while, but I just kind of soaked it in as to part of who I was – because I cannot even remember a time where I wasn’t mentally battling something.
I think for a long time I was so stuck in my ways and so deep in my own little hole I dug myself into mentally that the thought of being genuinely happy to me was absolutely terrifying. You almost get comfortable in your own chaos. It’s not the end of the world when you have a bad day because that’s kind of routine at a certain point. It’s almost like you stop “trying” to be happy or stop fighting to be happy because this is your norm and you know how to handle it, and you are, in a weird way, okay with it. The thought of being genuinely happy again seems terrifying because it almost feels like it can get taken away from you. It’s as if you have found a certain “control” over your demons, and the thought of climbing out of the hole and being genuinely happy scares you, because you can be pushed back into this hole all over again, which seems ten times harder to go through than just staying in the hole in the first place.
What I came to realize is you have to have this sort of faith in yourself, and the decisions you make, and the timing of things unfolding in yourself - and this faith has to outweigh all the other fears you have. All the other voices in your head that are scared, or the voices of other people who feel a need to give an opinion about what you’re doing with your own life. This faith has to trump all of that, or you’ll be too scared to actually make something of yourself. Let me rephrase that - you’ll be too scared to do something FOR yourself, because you’ve always been doing everything to fit the wants and needs of other people and what they claim to be “successful” or “happy”. Maybe that’s why you’re unhappy in the first place? The only way through it is to allow yourself to be uncomfortable; this is where the growth happens, this is where we discover who we are outside of our comfort zones.
Healing is a huge thing in so many aspects, for me, I did not just wake up one day and begin to love myself out of the blue. You see the quote sometimes where it says something along the lines of, “One day it just gets better, there's no explanation or reason why, you just wake up and you're not angry anymore,” and maybe for some people that’s true, and that’s amazing - but for others like myself it’s not always like that. For people like myself who have dealt/are dealing with eating disorders, body dysmorphia, anxiety, depression, self-harm - the path to recovery, the path to happiness, the path of overcoming certain battles, is going to look different and feel different for everyone so I can only touch on my own personal experiences. For myself, there was much buried within me that I hadn’t truly confronted what I needed to, to then begin the healing process. Before, I was on this loop where I thought I was “better” and then I found myself back at square one time and time again when it came to my own healing process.
It’s hard, but for me I had to go back to certain places where I didn’t love myself, or I felt certain negative things and open up to myself as to why I stopped loving myself, or why I felt certain things. You kind of have to go back to the root of it all and allow yourself to remember - which is scary and vulnerable. But you have to look at it as if it’s a weed in a sense, you don’t just pluck out a weed in your grass and expect it to never come back (this is how you get stuck in the loop I mentioned before), you actually have to pull it out from the roots, shake the dirt off, and throw it away. That’s not to say you will never get weeds in your grass again, but you’ll know how to properly tend to them next time they happen. Healing is never going to be a straight line where you go from start to finish, wipe the dirt off your hands and you’re out of there scot-free. I do not think healing is this end goal where you are “cured” from all your demons and you’ll never experience anxiety, depression, or an “I hate my body” moment ever again, but I think it’s a process of not letting it run your life anymore. If you need to sit in the shower and cry, you do that! If you need to take a day off from the gym because you have crippling anxiety that day, you do that! It’s not going backwards with your healing, it’s allowing yourself to feel those things without feeling guilty about it, and allowing yourself to do what you need to do to feel better again. Even if you have to do it over and over and over again - eventually you will get stronger from it. When you’re climbing out of your metaphorical hole, maybe you slip down the rope a little, maybe you go to grab a rock to pull yourself up and it slips out of the side of the wall, but if you’re persistent and you keep allowing yourself to fall with the intent to get back up and keep climbing then that’s where you’ll find your own inner strength.
When I went back to the root of a lot of my problems, I realized that so many of my negative feelings come from external influences, for example:
When I was battling with an eating disorder, I never wanted to be skinny for myself; I wanted to be skinny to get praise or validation from other people. I wanted to be skinny because this girl on Instagram was a size 2 and everyone loved how beautiful she was. I never actually “enjoyed” being skinny, I just enjoyed hearing how skinny other people thought I was. I was never satisfied with myself, but other people sounded satisfied with me.
When I had anxiety about becoming a teacher, it was not because I didn’t want to become a teacher – in fact it was my dream job! But you’d tell people you want to be a teacher and they’d just talk about how hard it’s going to be to find a job, not that it’s amazing that I’m doing something I love. Or people ask, “why do you want to be a teacher when you’re smart enough to become a dentist, or an accountant?” sure, that may be true, but why can’t what I WANT to do actually be “enough” to be supported.
This is where you become aware! This is where getting uncomfortable and being vulnerable with yourself pays off to a certain extent with some of your battles. When we are going through something for the first time, we do not always realize how our mind is being influenced by external factors like people, the media, society, etc., and how it affects the way we do things. Now that you’re aware, have to allow yourself to not be fully influenced by these external factors when it comes to achieving your own goals and ambitions. I read this article once, that was basically a synopsis of, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson, and he talked about how you have to not give a f*ck - not in the sense that you do not care about anything, but in the sense that you’re not going to give a f*ck about what other people say or think about your process and what you need to do to get from point A to point B with where you want to be (in any aspect of your life). The second you stop caring so much about what other people tell you to do, or what society expects you to do, or what the media tells you what you “should” look like, you start to have a better control over your own journey to happiness.
This is not to say that digging down to the roots and asking yourself the brutal and honest questions is a cure all thing in the healing process. I cannot say I “know” what causes my depression, considering for me it’s not necessarily caused by anything but a chemical imbalance. I cannot say although I know why my anxieties happen in some situations, why they happen in others. I cannot say although I know I didn’t want to be skinny for myself, why I still feel the need to pick apart myself from time to time. All’s I am saying, is that it helps. For me, it got me out of the vicious cycle of plucking a weed out of my grass and wondering why that same weed came back time and time again when it came to some struggles I faced. It got me aware of so many negative external factors that influenced how I felt about certain situations in my life, that I can now continue to grow from. Slowly, I was able to take some of the weight off of my shoulders, slowly I was able to feel lighter and more determined to do things for myself rather than what would satisfy other people.
I think there comes a time where we snap, we become brutally honest with ourselves. It doesn’t matter how many times people have told you that you need help, or you need to help yourself - it’s not going to happen until you come to the point within yourself where you are motivated to do it and want to help yourself in whatever way that looks like. The only comparison I can think of is when someone tells you to get out of a toxic relationship time and time again, and you never seem to listen, or you somehow think everything’s fine. Eventually you leave them, but it’s not due to the pressures of everyone else telling you to leave, you finally hit a wall, or a breaking point, and realized for yourself that you were stuck on this toxic loop. Then you help set yourself free – to feel better, to feel lighter, because you deserve it. I hope everyone who is struggling one day finds that courage or motivation to climb out of their own hole. It’ll be dirty, it’ll be uncomfortable, but man is it worth it.