Mental Health Update: Going From Rock Bottom to Somewhere in the Middle
You spend years, decades even, being bombarded by questions of what you want to be when you grow up. While your future career is important, why is it that people never ask who you want to be when you grow up? I think it is safe to say that we are all more than just our career, our degree, or our future aspirations. That is what makes us all so unique, that is what leads us all down different paths.
I put so much time and effort into figuring out what I wanted to do post-grad but not once did I consider who I wanted to be once I got there. I moved to Chicago, a completely new city where I could really discover myself but when I arrived I found myself overwhelmed by temptations, adulthood, and relationships all of this negatively impacted me for many months.
Since moving to Chicago I have worn many faces. I am sure that is just as weird to read as it is to say… but because I wasn’t sure who I wanted to be I wasn’t necessarily myself or someone I was proud of at some points. There is something gut wrenching about realizing you don’t like the person you are becoming or the person you have been behaving like.
When I first moved to Chicago I was pretty naïve. I was overwhelmed with the moving process but incredibly eager to get my own life started on my terms. The first month or so I was living on cloud 9. This blog was a couple months old and doing pretty well, I was enjoying my job search process, I was meeting all of these new people and exploring a new place. I was completely convinced at this point that Chicago was where I was supposed to be. I was excited by the idea that there was opportunity behind every door and in every conversation I had.
I had on rose colored glasses that hid all of the negatives in my life. I was pushing things that made me unhappy to the back of my mind because I wanted to keep loving my life and this new city. This is not a sustainable way to live and eventually all of the walls I had built up to keep the negatives out burst apart and the negative thoughts began to flood my brain.
It felt like it happened overnight, one day I loved this city and was overjoyed to be here and the next…Chicago was my own personal hell on Earth. Mental health can be tricky this way, it is hard to remember sometimes that mental health is cyclical. I often times think that once I reach the peak of the mountain I am safe and permanently happy, until I fall back down into the valley.
During the latter months of 2018 despite my best efforts I found myself falling deeper and deeper into my depression to the point that I genuinely wondered if it was possible to claw myself out of it this time. As the depression got worse I isolated myself from everyone including my family, friends, and my boyfriend and I began to spend most of my time thinking about how much I disliked the person I had become.
This darkness really hovered over me until mid-January. I felt like I was doing everything right… I was going to therapy, trying to think positively, journaling, and so much more but nothing was making me feel better. At a certain point I started to believe that this was just my new normal, that I was just never going to experience true happiness again, that I was just meant to deal with this darkness hovering over me at all times.
It wasn’t until my boyfriend started calling me out every time that I said something negative about myself that I realized how much negativity I was putting onto myself and out into the world. This was my first big step in finding myself and being happy again. Just consciously watching the way I spoke about me personally allowed me to improve my mental health significantly. I’ve said this before but it is so important to always remember to speak to yourself the way you would speak to your friend. Would you tell your friend they look fat today or that they are a terrible person? No, of course not so why would you say it to yourself?
I also realized that I can’t please everybody and that I don’t have to be friends with everyone. Whether it is someone I have known forever or someone I have only known for a few months if I felt like I needed to act like someone else around them or ignore my core values I realized it just wasn’t a healthy relationship. I was continually beating myself up for not getting along with certain people for months, I couldn’t understand it and it truly impacted me. When I stopped forcing myself to be around people who made me feel insecure and not good enough I began to feel lighter.
I am still very much in the beginning stages of climbing my mental health mountain. I have weeks where I don’t want to get out of bed but I have also begun to have weeks where I feel motivated, accomplished, and hopeful. Just like mental health moving to a new city is a journey filled with ups and downs. While I have overcome many hurtles during my climb up the mountain so far I have to be aware that there are still some obstacles in my future.