Content warning: Discussion of depression, suicidal thoughts.
"Trauma compounds" my therapist told me. "It's not fair, but that's how it is." Maybe that is why every time something hard happens, it gets harder and harder for me to deal with on my own. I know I kinda jumped in there, but I'm not sure how else to explain what has been happening to me. I've let things build up and build up and build up, bottling the feelings I've had and setting it aside, believing that was "dealing with it."
2020 was hard for most everyone. And for those of you who are like "It was a great year for me!" hush your heckin face before I get Christian Bale and shout "OH, GOOD FOR YOU!" It isn't helpful. I wish I could be happy for you, and part of me is, but it doesn't change the fact that I'm not over it. I'm not ok. Instead I'm being buried in toxic positivity, feeling like I shouldn't be in pain because YOU aren't in pain. I know that's not what you mean to do. But it's what happens.
I wasn't okay. My friends weren't okay. We were seeing our businesses fail before our eyes. We were losing our physical support systems and having to change our approach to everything. And because we weren't ok and we *aren't* ok, we'd try to boost each other, but end up dragging each other down.
My best friend put it this way: "It's like we are passing around a glass, pouring the liquid into each other's. Each time we do, it spills some liquid out. We aren't getting anything that refills the glass; the things that normally did are gone." Think about it: Shopping became stressful. Going out anywhere became stressful. Visiting family and friends became stressful. Everyone around you became a potential "enemy", a germ vector. Not to mention the polarity of "us vs. them" that happened in the political climate. Everywhere it was secretly poisoning our wells, our capacity.
I already had trauma to deal with. I'm not gonna get into it because I feel like this article is already a downer and I don't wanna go into my whole damn life story- but there was many things I had worked hard to overcome and in some cases, still was dealing with. There wasn't any "healing" happening in 2020. We were just trying to survive.
Enter 2021. I feel like last year was an "aftermath", a toxic waste cleanup. It was just as hard, and even harder for me. A lot of things happened. 1. I was trying to help keep a small business afloat (unpaid); I felt a whole weight of responsibility for it and couldn't balance that out emotionally. (Insert reference to Encanto's "Surface Pressure" here) I became burnt out and drained. I don't hold the person who owned the business responsible; I just lack the proper emotional gates to guard myself, especially when I love and trust someone. 2. We moved across state. This is a lot of work initially, but there were other stressors that happened- such as flash floods that damaged homes and closed streets. My landlord more or less kicked us out the moment I mentioned thinking of moving because "there was not enough housing for the students, especially after the floods." I was triple-dosing on my ADHD meds to stay awake until 6 am packing. I injured my back in the process. 3. My husband got a new job (The reason for our move) that he promptly lost in 6 weeks due to "budget cuts." He still does not have a new one. 4. An important person in my life died suddenly. 5. I lost an entire support circle of online friends. It started out because I, and others, were feeling neglected. It was partially my fault because I got Big Mad and lost my temper over issues I had bottled up for a long time. Even after trying to fix the situation, conclusions were drawn without hearing my side of the story and I was closed out completely.
That's when I felt like everything fell out from under me. I grew suicidal; I didn't see the point in continuing. All of my worst fears came true. I am a mentally ill girl trying to run a whole business, being told what I should do, being used and abandoned by those I trusted, in a society that can hang you out to dry on their own inconvenience. What is the point? I had avoided going to therapy for a long time, both out of fear of being manipulated and feeling like I couldn't afford it. But it was clear I couldn't get out of this deep hole alone, and I was afraid. A friend helped pay for my first month of therapy, and kind donations were given for my second month. I was taught about the limbic system- the "lizard brain" that tells us instinctually that we are good as dead if we are abandoned, the part that fights us when we try to better ourselves because it says "But you're gonna get hurt again." I was taught about compounding trauma.
And now... I feel like I'm starting from ground zero, in a lot of cases. I don't have the proper emotional "tools" to get myself over the huge "walls of awful" that stand in my way of doing... Well, anything. The harder I push, the more lashback I get from my own brain, but I'm coming to terms and processing things. I am able to recognize deeper issues and trauma that I never properly dealt with. I am trying to have proper "vents", as painful as they are, to let the pressure out. I am developing tools, and I'm confronting my own traumas to try to get to the root of it. I am finding new support circles and reaching out to people. It's not... Easy. Sometimes it's super painfully slow. It hurts. I dig up old wounds fresh. I relapse into destructive tendencies and anxiety attacks. I am terrified of putting my heart out to someone just to be used and abandoned again. But progress is being made.
That being said, I'm trying to figure out where to go from here. I feel like I've been sitting in this cocoon of pain, pushing on against the same wall and getting nowhere. My art is now directly correlated to my trauma and pain. The part of me that was full of imagination and joy has been injured, and is taking a long time to heal. I'm burnt out by the "hustle", of being told what I should do to succeed and feeling like a failure when I can't. I fear social media because it's a constant treadmill feeding an unforgiving algorithm. It has become work, and I fear rejection with every ounce of my being. So yes, I'm moving slow. But I want to do things. I want to be better. I am working on myself and doing the best I can do. Please be patient with me. Healing is a journey. It's hard. And I don't know where to go from here. I'm scared of change. I'm scared of unknowns. And it's all... Everything. But I am trying. There is hope. I'm doing better. And I want to try to share that journey with others, so they know they aren't suffering alone. And thank you for believing in me, even when I don't believe in myself.