This was a long time coming for me, but I’m so grateful that I finally got here. Proud of myself because I didn’t give up, even though so many times I wanted to. Up until 15 years ago I never could have imagined the way I feel now; comfortable in my own skin, forgiving of my flaws and those of others, accepting what comes as the days unfold (mostly – sometimes it takes a while…), confident that I have the ability to get through (or over, under or around) any roadblock I encounter on my path.
I would have preferred to be “normal,” I guess – to have lived life without the chronic depression that dragged me under for weeks at a time and forced me to fight for my life over and over. One thing those struggles taught me, though, is that everything passes – the good and the bad, and that – no joke – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…and smarter and more compassionate, if you let it, toward yourself and others.
Because life is hard in some way for everyone. Absolutely everyone. Always. Regardless of all those “living large, shiny happy people” posts on Facebook and Instagram – everyone struggles in some way with something. Everyone has something they hide from other people; something they think makes them different from everyone else.
I’ve learned to enjoy the good times, and to appreciate them, for I know that life is up and down and nothing lasts forever – good or bad. The “ups” are fabulous, but the “downs” can be pretty deep. Even without depression life can be really challenging and discouraging at times, with no end in sight; but I’m learning to set fear aside, split problems into manageable pieces so I don’t feel overwhelmed, and to ask for help if I can’t do it alone.
Let me be clear about this: it was easy to write that last paragraph, but it is still not easy to do those things always. But thanks to a good therapist several years ago I have tools now that help, and I learned that running away just postpones the pain, and that there is no value in “toughing” it out, either. There is a big difference between being strong and being tough.
Being tough is just bluster, blundering through, knocking things around, sometimes making things worse. Being strong is facing things head on, making good decisions, finding the way through carefully and thoughtfully, while keeping yourself whole and healthy along the way. Never backing down, but not pushing through blindly, either. Remembering always that this too shall pass.
I encourage myself to rise to a challenge now, rather than shrinking from it, and every time I do that it gets a little easier. I take a deep breath, get a drink of water, pat myself on the back, and start assessing the situation:
- Is this my problem to solve?
- Is the problem solvable?
- Is the solution within my control?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” I’m setting myself up for failure right from the start. Better to let go of solving the problem (getting through the obstacle), and to start working on accepting the situation as it is and trying to minimize its impact on my life and wellbeing (getting around the obstacle). Either way, I keep going on. I keep learning and growing and trying.
That’s all anyone can expect; all we can ask of ourselves in this colorful, hilarious, difficult, tasty, challenging, cacophonous LIFE:
Just keep moving forward. That’s enough.