It Didn't Break Me. It Won't Break Me.
As painful as it may seem and as horrible as it seems in the moment, there's a simple truth to dealing with anything bad: you can't bounce without hitting the ground. In addiction treatment, it's often referred to as rock bottom. It's the moment when you can't go any lower. The moment when you stop falling and you start to see yourself moving upward again. It's funny but you can go on thinking you've hit that moment all you want, but you when you do, you'll know it. That bottom hits you like a ton of bricks and how you choose to deal with it is up to you.
I can tell you the date it happened for me. February 12, 2020. I hit rock bottom so hard I stopped caring if I lived or died. The scary part is nothing triggered it. It wasn't a specific thing, or a specific moment or a specific person. I woke up that day and it just got darker and darker until, at around 1pm that afternoon I was in full blown panic mode and I had no idea what was going on. As part of my therapy, I write in a journal daily, and that day I wrote this:
"I've been doing so well for so many days, and then today I woke up in a funk like no other. No specific reason. No specific thing. And it's so frustrating. I don't know why I feel this way, I'm just sad. Super crushingly sad. I'm on the verge of cracking. I can feel it. I'm at work, looking at the screen as I'm writing this and I just don't understand why I feel this way. Here I was thinking everything is under control, that I'm getting better, and now boom. Right back to feeling as dark as I did the day I first joined. DAMMIT. I shouldn't feel this way and I don't even know why I do. I can't fix it because I can't figure it out."
I was scared out of my mind, not just by how I was feeling, but also that I didn't know why I felt that way. "I can't fix it because I can't explain it," and the thought of not being able to fix it scared the hell out of me. I cried constantly that day. Sitting in my truck after buying lunch? I cried. In the store shopping around? I cried. Right up until I wrote that? I cried. At home that morning? I cried. I cried randomly and repeatedly all day. Nothing even caused it. I just kept crying. Over and over. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, when Ron met the Dementors for the first time, he said ""I felt weird. Like I'd never be cheerful again."
That was me. I was never going to be happy again.
It was the bottom and I hit it head first.
My therapist immediately messaged me and helped talk me down, and asked if it was anything specific, and when I told her no, she told me to just hang in there, I was going to be okay, and we would talk tomorrow (our regularly scheduled day). I was okay, of course, and we talked like usual, and I told her how scary it was. How I was emotional. How I was crying constantly. How unstable I felt. All of it. I cried constantly during our conversation and I told her I was upset at how I was constantly on the verge of cracking.
She told me it was normal and that the climb out of depression isn't always smooth or straight and I had to just cope with it in the moment and always recognize that the feelings aren't permanent. We talked about potential triggers and she made a point of praising me for avoiding them so well and also made me hyper aware of what could be triggers that I didn't even think of.
With all of that going on in my head, you would think I was heading further down, but the exact opposite happened.
Unexpectedly, last week, I turned a corner. The negativity went away, the hyper-emotionality subsided. I wasn't ready to break every five minutes. I was becoming myself again. I literally felt my smile coming back. I felt my spark. I felt my zest. I felt my passion. I felt all of the things I thought were gone forever creeping back a little at a time.
And boom. Out of nowhere, I was out of it. With the help of my therapist, my best friend, and one of my closest friends, I was past it. And I looked back at it and it was just an event in my past.
This morning I woke up at my usual time and didn't linger in bed. I got out of bed, ate breakfast, cleaned up the kitchen, spent quality time with Tom, went down to my shop for a bit, took some photos of a new bracelet, cut my hair, shaved, slapped on my favorite shirt, my best skinny Gap jeans, and my suede jacket and walked out the door with a smile on my face.
Today I feel like me.
Today I feel like depression is beatable.
Last week was the best week I've had in my business since before I went to LA in mid-December. I crushed it. I sold more than I've sold in a very long time and I don't see it letting up any time soon. I feel like I can finally look forward again.
I have a life to live. So do you.
And you CAN do it. It may take help. It may take pain. It may take facing down things that scare you, trigger you, and make you want to hurt yourself. And in the end, you can still live your life. You can fight off the depression. You can win even when you don't see a path to victory.
That moment when you hit rock bottom? There's a path back. It may be hidden. It may be obscured. It may be difficult, but it's there. Don't stop looking, and fight like hell to get back on it because moving forward is easier once you're on it.