Is she still there?
Is she still herself?
What’s wrong with her?
Is she okay?
How do you get through hard times? Do you cry? Do you binge-watch TV? Do you eat?
There are so many ways to get through hard times. All counselors always talk about coping skills and good coping. Mine, was the gym and yoga. Two of the most important things in my life. So what do you do when you can no longer do what makes you happiest? It’s like a rug being completely torn out from underneath you.
I started having foot drop in the end of February. Having a hard time walking, hips hurting, shin splints, the works. When it happened, I didn’t think anything of it. I thought it was a symptoms of my multiple sclerosis, so I didn’t pay any mind to it because usually symptoms go away in about a week. Then a week goes by, then two, then three. And you world starts falling apart. The gym and yoga became part of my identity, became part of who I am. And those two things were stripped away from me.
I started getting irritable, impatient, sad…depressed. I didn’t realize it was even depression at first because I was still going to work and wasn’t feeling sad all the time. But I noticed how I became irritable, lashing out at the people I love and not even understanding why. Noticing that I wasn’t cleaning, going to the grocery store, or meal prepping like I used to. Noticing that I was having crying spells. Noticing that I didn’t really feel anything. If it wasn’t sadness, it was being numb. It’s like I wasn’t able to be happy. I wasn’t able to have my usual optimistic attitude. I felt alone, insignificant, and unworthy.
I began going to physical therapy three times per week, draining my bank account. I would go and feel like I was making no progress, and got discouraged. Discouraged and believing that this was just my life now. Believing that I would never be myself again. Believing that all of the work I put into myself to grow and become me best-self was just destroyed. I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t know how to feel about anything anymore. I became zombie-like, just going through the motions to get through the day and then going home.
I began remembering the gym and yoga, thinking about how I couldn’t go all the time. I would cry when I saw my new gym shoes and clothes, knowing that I wasn’t wearing them. I would just break down in the middle of my closet after seeing them, to the point where I threw it all in a bag so I wouldn’t have to look at it.
My friends and my community were at the gym and yoga. How did this foot drop cause me to lose the gym, yoga, my excitement, my happiness, my friends, my sense of belonging? How did this foot drop cause me to lose motivation towards exciting things in my life. I am starting graduate school and should have been excited, but instead of excitement, I started feeling “meh”. I became apathetic. I didn’t know what to do.
Everyone knows about depression, and those who fully understand depression know that it can be debilitating and overwhelming. Know that once you get into that spiral it feels nearly impossible to get out of. You know hanging out with other people would help, but you don’t want to be around anyone. You don’t want to go in being a negative nancy and bringing everyone else down. You know you should be cleaning because being in a clean environment improves mental health, but you can’t find it in yourself to clean. You know that eating healthy improves mental health as well, but you can’t bring yourself to go to the grocery store, cooking, or meal prepping. You begin to isolate, lose motivation, lose your appetite, and lose yourself.
It’s impossible. There’s no way I can get back from this. This is my life now. So how do you change that mindset and become positive and optimistic again? Fake it until you make it. You start telling yourself you are grateful for physical therapy. You start telling yourself that it’s a new day. You start telling yourself that everything will work out and be okay. You start feeling foolish for telling yourself those things because you “know” it’s not true.
What if it became true? What if you are getting happy again and are subconsciously pushing that happiness away because you almost feel like you shouldn’t be happy? What if you just believed in yourself or your higher power if you have one?
What’s the worst thing that can happen? Feeling better? Why would you not want that? Why would you not try to obtain that happiness? You logically know the things you should change. You logically know the chances of a good outcome. But you don’t feel those things. Until you do.