They say life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Except most boxes of chocolate come with those handy-dandy tops that clearly explain what everything is:
Perhaps I’m being too literal, because I imagine the gist behind what Forrest Gump was trying to articulate was figurative. For the sake of my sudden need to only take words in their usual and most basic sense without metaphor or allegory – we’ll say this: Sometimes life is like a box of chocolates without the useful map. Also, one of those chocolates is actually a turd and you have no idea how to ascertain which one it is without just trying them all.
I like to write about the lighter things in life: going on dates with girls who have giant Ron Burgundy tattoos despite never actually seeing the movie, my undying affinity for my neurotic Chihuahua, and how I truly believe spaghetti-o’s and red wine are an acceptable dinner for a 32-year-old woman. When it comes to speaking my truth, I don’t always do it here despite my comfort with vulnerability. I don’t want to admit when I’m really hurting, struggling, or suffering in any capacity. I want you to think I’m cool, funny, and fantastic at processing life. I want you to think I invented the very concept of dealing with things and rising above them. I want you to think because I’m a trained therapist I choose Cognitive Behavioral Therapy over whiskey, and that my fanny pack full of coping skills include things like yoga, eating healthy, and getting plenty of rest (and not Xanax).
I don’t want to tell you about how I had a full-on panic attack in the waiting room at my therapists office last month, and I don’t want to tell you just how many unwanted sleepless nights it takes to make you feel crazy on the level of Charlie Sheen circa 2012. I typically take whatever I’m going through, inject it with a good shot of humor, make sure you know I’m laughing with you, and then end it with the positive spin of “everything’s okay even when it’s not.” This statement is true but it is fallible – humans are fallible. I’m showing up today to write an entry that’s probably the hardest one to write since I wrote (We Broke Up & It’s Cool Kind Of) Which really resonated with a lot of people, and I’m hoping my honesty today reverberates in a similar way.
I’ve lived with anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember. I don’t know if I did when I was a kid, because I don’t really have a lot of memories from being young. My cognizance really kicked in during adolescence – and from that point on I recall it all. Being shuffled from one Doctor to the next, and put on endless combinations of medications I wasn’t old enough to consent to or understand. As an adult I’ve certainly gotten a better hold on things, and I have the luxury of being my own advocate for navigating those times and making choices for myself. But one thing that hasn’t changed is that it’s always there. Your anxiety and your depression can lay stagnant for months, for years even – but it’s always lying somewhere deep inside of you like a tiny can of gasoline waiting for a spark. And when it explodes it doesn’t matter how old you are, how many times you’ve defeated it, or how well-equipped you are to handle it. I have all the tools, not just because I’m a lesbian, and still – I recently found myself at 32-years-old, and trying to mitigate one of the darker times I’ve had to in a while.
I felt like my life was a seam and someone slowly pulled a thread that dismantled it one stitch at a time. Once I was in that space, I felt helpless to do anything except painfully watch as it unraveled. My cute fanny pack of coping skills was nowhere to be found and I stopped doing all of the things that maybe could have made it okay, or at least a little better. I had the motherfucking blueprint to the Death Star of what I needed to do – and it all seemed too daunting. Go to yoga? How could I possibly go to yoga? I laid on my mat in savasana sweating, heart pounding, and desperately waiting for this incredibly relaxing practice to be over every time. Meditate? Oh hell no. Exercise? All of the strength I had went into getting out of bed in the morning. Sleep? I went a solid month where I got about 1-2 hours a night and almost lost my damn mind in the process. People toss and turn, and I’m not trying to invalidate anyone’s experience, but true sleep deprivation feels like the worst hangover you’ve had in your entire life everyday and it doesn’t get any better with greasy food and water consumption. I either over-shared or tried to dress to repress and put on a good front. I wouldn’t say I pushed away the people I loved, but I certainly didn’t engage with them either.
I am writing today to let you know I’ve been going through a very hard time but that I am healing. I’ve been trying to heal for quite some time, and it just didn’t pan out that way. This is what we do as people but so rarely discuss – we fall apart and then we gather every tiny piece, every shard, and attempt to put it back together. I’ve been lucky enough to have the time recently to put a lot of effort into what that looks like and I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes from the ‘Bell Jar.’ The main character Esther says, after feeling like all hope was lost: “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.”
It reminds her that as long as her heart is still beating – it exists, she exists. That no matter what life hands us whether it be a box of chocolates, or sack of crap – we are going to be okay. And while I strive to depart from the ending of injecting this with a good shot of humor, make sure you know I’m laughing with you, and then end it with the positive spin of “everything’s okay even when it’s not” – that’s exactly what I’m leaving you with.
I’m thankful for good friends, mountains, family, introspection, and kindness from unexpected places. The people that have held me up, weren’t always the ones I expected. It is because of them, and the deep-seeded trust I have in myself to make it through that I’m able to share these words with you today. It’s part of my healing, and I hope in some capacity – someone else’s. If you or someone you know is in a similar place just remember that people can only start from where they’re at and not where they want to be. Be patient, whether it is with yourself or others, and be kind. If it’s you – grant yourself the same compassion you would to others.
Life is not always going to be easy but I can promise you one thing – you can go to hell and come back again whether it’s once or one-hundred times.