Trying to find a word representative of 100% healthy, I wandered off within. Healed, cured, mended came quickly to mind, yet none of these seem to capture the essence of being at one without sounding like some sort of rare individual. However, it seems vital to be able to convey that message of the climb being soon over and coming to an end. At a lack of words, I just found myself lost and a bit confused.
It all began almost a year ago. In the midst of the cold wind of winter, my mind and heart took a course of their own, and I fell into a vast hole. Going deeper and deeper, I let my emotions take over and I got stuck somewhere in the dark. As the days passed on, my longing for solitude and separation from “the outside world” grew. Buried under my bed sheets, I memorised the schedule of most programs on TV channels, and I lived mostly on processed foods from 7-Eleven or my local deli shop. And the more I isolated myself, the lonelier I felt. A vicious cycle.
I was diagnosed with clinical depression.
It came as no shock to me, as I myself got help for it, yet recognising you have a problem is harder than the actual diagnosis. Perhaps it’s the fact that it is an illness that does not seem as apparent to the outside world as other more physical ones. Or perhaps it is the fact that you do not really understand how your own mind seems to be working against you. Or even the simple fact that you hurt so much that you cannot even think normally. When it came to me, it was the major combination of them all.
Since little, I always tried to achieve perfection. At the same time, no shock here, I also craved major attention. The combination, however, proved to be close to fatal. Filled with expectations to myself, I tried to be the perfect son, the perfect brother, the perfect student, the perfect heterosexual male, and all in all, the perfect man. Growing up and as years pass by, the amount of expectations grew into a payload to carry on your back, and with such, the fighting spirit grew weaker. Yet being in the media spotlight, I refused to show the inner struggle within. Instead, I hid behind my wall, an inflated ego, while recurring to alcohol and sex for a better sense of self-esteem. Living on the outside, while suffering on the inside does not last long. I lived as such for years, but a breach was close at hand. A glass that is filled with water drop by drop is bound to spill at some point.
I cracked, tumbled and fell.
After a couple of months, I finally hit rock bottom. It is far from a good feeling, but looking back, I see it as a turning moment. After all, after getting to such a place, there truly is no other way but up. So although weak, I got up from my knees and tried to keep on moving.
I have spent many months in the darkness, climbing up that mountain, with hope of one day reaching that sense of silver lining. I am not trying to advocate that I have taken the right turns along the way, nor do I feel I always wanted to get better. I realised nonetheless that the mountain I was trying to climb was not one that led me straight up. Instead, just like in nature, sometimes you have to descend, before you can ascend. Learning from relapse to relapse. I wanted out, but learning what out is, is also a hard task. Trying not to fall into the abyss once more, I tried to look straight forward and somewhat upwards.
It all began almost a year ago. It has been an arduous and hurtful process, yet today, I finally got to a new point of accomplishment and closer to my personal goal. Officially diagnosed as “cured” is after all a wonderful feeling, but I know that my personal battle is far from over. The demons within still remain there somewhere and falling is not only a maybe, but an of course. After all, life is a roller coaster for the most of us. But at least now, I have learned and grown from past experiences, so the fall is not as deep and easier to climb out of. They say practice makes perfect. Well, in my case, I feel practice makes you tougher and stronger.
Although I do feel stronger and somehow more mature, I look at my road ahead and I know there are challenges to be found. To this day, I am still unable to say I love myself completely. And I still cry. Sometimes an entire river, figuratively speaking. Yet I have found that crying releases the anxiety and stress beneath, and allows me to see ahead more clearly. I might not be able to love myself just yet, but at last, I am getting to know this new person within and growing into it.
So do I feel entirely cured? No. But then again, I still don’t understand the meaning of the word. I do however feel ready and optimistic. And at times, I feel happy. Happy to have almost overcome an inner battle, happy to breathe, happy to love, and happy to be alive. I look straight forward. I smile.
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” (Carl Gustav Jung).