I’ve been thinking about this post for months. Not so much in a ‘what would I say” kinda way , because girl, I always know what to say. But I wanted this post to be honest. And saying the words “Yeah, I didn’t know if I was going to make it through this year” doesn’t quite sound or look as pretty when written.
I know this sounds super scary, but it’s my truth. And that is something I have grown to value.
My truth is that this year was not only difficult, it was almost impossible. I struggled to get out of bed. I struggled to keep up with commitments. I didn’t talk to anyone other than my mother and occasionally my close girlfriends. The conversations were fake. I wasn’t okay. But it kept them from worrying, so that was a win. I thought.
Some days came easy, but most didn’t. The sun was too bright. Bed felt too good. And ignorance of the outside world was as close to bliss that I would get.
Thankfully I have a day job that I have to actually get up and go to, or else I might not have left the house.
I’m sure people realized that some days were not my best days, but I’m a master of the “I’m just having a tough day” lines, and they worked damn well.
(Oh, ISFJ, you don’t want to burden people with your problems at all, do ya? No. We do not. We need to be needed. We don’t like to need.)
But what I wanted to say was “Everything is spiraling out of control and I don’t know how to get off this ride and can you make it stop? I really just want some funnel cake or something. Can life please just sit fucking still for one damn minute? PLEASE?”
How did I get here?
There’s never an exact moment that I can pinpoint that things went to shit and I stopped caring. For me, it was more likely a culmination of a lot of things.
The grief from losing my grandmother last May ripped me inside out. Again. Just when you think grief is over, the cycle begins again. And again. And again. Grief has no rules.
My weight began to fluctuate. It was the same 20 pounds, but it was going on and coming off in the most unhealthy ways.
I decided to get rid of a lot of clients, because I just didn’t care anymore, so I went from living comfortably to having to have a to-the-penny budget. This was one of the largest adjustments I had to make. Financial comfort makes me happy.
I left two relationships that were not in line with my life nor were they what I wanted, no matter how comfortable they felt.
My best friend of 11 years and I didn’t speak for 4 months – during some of the most difficult times of my life where all I needed to hear was his voice, or get some of his insight. You never know how much someone means to you until they’re not there, you know?
I accepted that some friends were never going to be the types of friends that I needed them to be. Instead of trying to teach them how, I decided to let them go. Ouch.
I saw my father’s health decline a bit.
I had a financial setback that eliminated all of my savings.
I considered moving across the country for a better paying job and leaving my NJ roots and Philly love.
I was just so confused, and the ground that I had relied so much on had been taken from under me.
There was a point this year when I honestly had no idea what “good” looked like, and I tried everything in my power to make things look good. I was convinced that I would never know what good would look like again, so was it even worth it?
And that was my rock bottom.
I needed a new plan. Things needed to change. Something had to give. But did I even want to bother? Was I beyond helping?
After much thinking. I realized that no moving cross-country plan, hair cut, new outfit, new friends… none of it changed the truth:
- That changing things was completely in my control and it wasn’t in one small change
- That everything I needed to overcome my difficulties was already inside of me, or by my side.
If you can’t see it, does it even exist?
The weird thing about any kind of depression is that it’s invisible. I don’t go into work limping. I don’t show up at my family barbecues with bruises and rashes. For a while, I was showing up with a smile on my face, and jokes ready to go. But then I stopped showing up because even walking into the door was too much pain.
Pretending to be happy when you’re so miserable inside is hard. Wanting to talk about it but not knowing how to even start is a battle that I couldn’t even walk into.
The choice and the change.
I knew I had two choices. To do nothing and keep feeling horrible. Or to do something and at least have a chance of being back to good again. Even though doing something was much harder than doing nothing. Sleeping all day and not giving a shit was much easier. Seriously. I tried.
But with a lot of fear, and a ton of resistance, I opened up more to my core circle about how I was feeling. Letting go of the guilt that it would burden them. Instead of “I’m having a bad day” I said “I’m having a rough time with _______________, and I need some help navigating this.”
And some listened. And cared.
I wrote an email to my best girl friend and was completely honest with her. I laid it all out on the line. I held nothing back. It was the darkest email I had ever written, but I had to get it out of me. It made it real. I needed someone to know that I wasn’t giving up the fight, but I was having one heck of a time staying in the game.
I remember sending that email, and her response came quickly. “What can I do? Can I come over and just sit with you?”
Another friend who I briefly told my situation to reacted “This is when you say “I need my friend” and I come rushing over.”
These… friends. They weren’t trips across the country or new haircuts or decisions to lose 80 pounds. They were people who already were here and ready to fight with me.
They didn’t tell me to “go to therapy”, they didn’t tell me to “run away”, they didn’t tell me anything really, other than that they were there, for whatever I needed.
There are some family and friends who knew of my struggle and stayed away. I can’t blame them for that. People have their own struggles to go through. All in all it was a blessing that those who stood in my corner are the people I know are my people. My lifesavers. My lifelines.
“Can I come over and sit with you?”
It’s precisely what I would do when my Grandmom was alive. If I had a bad day, I’d just go visit with her and sit beside her. Sometimes we’d talk, and sometimes we’d play cards, but mostly, we’d just sit.
As I was going through my big hairy scary stuff this year, I didn’t need someone to see me as someone who was too delicate, or fragile, or breakable. I didn’t need people to sit around a table and say “Oh, that Katie. It’s such a shame.”
I just needed someone, anyone to want to be in the same room as me for no other reason than to be there with me. If we laugh, we laugh. If we’re quiet we’re quiet. If I spill my guts and ugly cry, then so be it.
Sometimes I need someone to just be. And I’m so grateful to have that in my life and not to have to go looking for it.
So here we are… … what’s next?
Another year down. And since I sent that letter to my friend back in April, there have been definite changes.
The biggest thing I’ve learned to do is to ask for help. No person is an island, and sometimes you need to say “Hey, I need some help, can you please help me?”
God those words are so hard for me. It’s so much easier to be someone’s midnight crisis phone call than to make that phone call, you know? But I had to get off of my Beyonce “Independent Lad-ays” dance tendencies and move over to some U2’s “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own.”
Because you can’t make it on your own. We’re not meant to. My brain still doesn’t completely buy that, but it’s sure learning.
I learned things… because otherwise this struggle would have been for nothing.
- I see the light at the end of the tunnel, guys. Like, it’s there. Even on my dark, gross, days, I see the light. And I know I’m on my way there.
- I’ve re opened my savings account again and God, it feels better than cupcakes.
- I know who I am. I have an identity. I’m a kick-ass business woman who loves Hendrick’s Gin and TWSS jokes, coffee, and a medium rare steak.
- I’ve learned that not everyday is going to be a good day. I’m going to struggle. My mood is going to suck. But I have the right people on my side who I can just vent to, or sit and ‘be’ with.
- I’ve learned that if I’m feeling poorly, then I have total control over that, and it’s up to me to identify the source, and eliminate it or acknowledge it. (This one was SO HARD!) Sometimes sitting with the negative feeling is the answer and OMG I HATE THAT.
- I’ve learned not to feel shame for my story because not only have I been weak, but I’ve been incredibly brave and resilient.
- I’ve learned that not everyone will understand what I’m going through. I understand that people will make up their own stories as to why I haven’t called or written or reached out. I’ve also learned that I have zero control over that.
- I’ve realized that moving anywhere right now is not a good idea. I’d be running away, not running toward something. Running would have been much easier, yes, but there’s still fight here in Philly. There’s still more for me here. Good things.
- I’ve learned that pinning things to my Move Along, Move Along Pinterest board has a wild way of improving my mood. Every. Single. Time.
- I’ve learned that some things make me happy, like really happy, not just ‘happy because I have to be’. Like, pancakes, and greek salads, and coffee dates, and naps, and the perfect running playlist.
Here I am. 5 years old. Fresh off of a freakin’ hard as hell year that I had no idea if I’d make it through, but I did.
I did it you guys.
And you all helped.
Every. Single. One. Of. You. Who. Is. Reading. This.
Friend. Family. New Friend. Old Friend. Someone I’ve never met. Someone I will meet. Someone just reading this right now. All of you. Any of you.
You’ve said things you didn’t know you’ve said. You’ve done things you didn’t know you’ve done. You’ve believed in me when I didn’t even know how to look at myself.
I’m dedicating this year to all of you, my dear lifesavers.
Here are some previous life-a-versary recaps. Sadly, my initial post on Brandy’s blog is no longer available because her blog is closed. Boo,. But enjoy!