Is there a Right Mindset?

Making Mistakes, Learning from Them, Loving Yourself in the End

The problem with youth is that we have to personally experience things in order to understand them. We get too drunk. We make stupid mistakes. All for what? So we don’t make the same decisions and perform the same actions again? Because I can tell you, I’ve made the same mistakes a few hundred times and I guess I still haven’t learned my lesson because I’m probably going to do the same thing tomorrow. Call me psychic. Maybe we do make the same mistakes, not because we’re really that inadequate at understanding whatever it is won’t turn out well, but maybe because we forget how it made us feel after we did it? And if that’s the case, it’s not about being stupid. If anything, it’s about being hopeful that things will turn out differently than before. And let’s not confuse this with insanity. Of course if you do the same thing and expect a different result, you’re going to get nowhere. But if you go about a situation differently than before and hope for a different outcome, isn’t that good? Or maybe it is insanity because we get ourselves back in the same situation as before, hoping it will end up differently… I think I’ll blame it on my age.

But when is it ok to admit when something’s not ok? When is it the right time to understand that the outcome is not going to change? That since we’ve done things one way for so long, that hoping for a difference won’t actually create that difference? For me, I realized how things in my life weren’t going to change unless I started to have an active role in it. I mean taking responsibility for myself and actions, and also finally putting myself first and taking care of me. I’ve referenced mental health before, and if you haven’t read it, I’m sorry for my shameless plug but my article is titled What’s Wrong with You?, but it talks about my experience with anxiety and depression. And I’ll let you know, I’ve been struggling with it a lot lately. And if you’re not into me telling you about those struggles then I suggest you stop reading and I hope you have a nice day, becauase I’m going to get real with you, and I’m not sure you can handle it. If you can, here goes.

I was in a relationship when I knew I needed clinical help. There’s nothing that I had done for myself in the past that was resulting in any kind of self improvement when it came to my anxiety and depression. If I wasn’t working, all I would do was sleep. And if I was working, all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed. It’s ironic considering I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night, and don’t come at with the whole “well, you were sleeping all day” explanation that ruined my sleep at night because I would take Tylenol PM, NyQuil, etc., any kind of sleep aid, just to get a few continuous hours of shut eye, but to no avail. I would not be able to sleep through the night. And if I was miraculously able to, I would still desparately need and have to nap later on in the day. I thought maybe it was because I was dehydrated, or maybe I needed to clean up my diet, or maybe start working out more regularly. But when I made those adjustments, I felt no different. I tried writing positive affirmations, reading self-help books and tried changing my outlook to stop being so negative all the time. But the fatigue and desire to sleep just kept getting worse. I was finding myself chained to my bed when I was on the road. I would also just order food to my room because of my exhaustion and not interact with me crew. I began to isolate myself. I stopped trying. And I mentioned that I was in a relationship at the time because all I wanted was to be with them and for them to comfort me. To them, I knowingly picked a line of work that required me to travel, so I shouldn’t be so surprised that this distance thing would be more difficult than anticipated. To them, I wasn’t sleeping in the metaphorical bed that I made, when in reality I was struggling with more than just a long distance relationship. All they could see was the fact that I wasn’t there. There were also other things that inevitably brought us to an end but I’m not trying to vent about that; he’s a good person that deserves good things in this life. But at the time, I also thought it was normal to feel this upset about being away from him. I even thought that quitting this type of job would make me feel better. I had kept getting so depressed and anxious on the road and constantly tried to seek solace in him, until I realized that that wasn’t the right thing to do. And my feelings and mood about not being around my significant other should not feel this way. Should not be this sense of absolute devestation. Should not feel like my world was imploding. And that it wasn’t just my feelings with him and that situation, it was about everything. And that’s when I realized there was something wrong. Not only did my sense of self no longer exist, my indentity was intertwined with theirs. Where did they end and I begin? How had it come to my happiness being dependent on another indivual? What was I doing with my life?…

The day that I finally woke up and took myself off of autopilot, was the day I realized I needed to take control of myself and my life. It was the day I realized my worth. It was the day I realized I was kind of going through the motions and not putting in an effort in this thing called life. I realized that I should not feel this despair when being away from someone I love, when I don’t feel this when I’m away from my parents whom I love deeply. I realized there was something not right with that. I realized I was not ok. And during this time of loneliness and isolation, I had begun to think about cutting myself again; and not to bring an end to my life. I want to make that very clear. But to give myself a physical point of concentration to get away from the overwhelming sense of sadness that was consuming me. I just needed something to focus on other than my compulsive thoughts that brought me mental pain. And these aren’t things that most people understand. These are not things I expect most people to understand. But I hope that most people can acknowledge that anxiety and depression is a real struggle that people deal with and that no one should be made to feel guilty for thinking and feeling that way.

This was also a time where I realized, as the wise RuPaul has stated, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?” And that’s when I knew I needed to learn how to love myself again. I had been so dependent on someone to give me love when I didn’t even have  that for myself. One of the biggest reasons why I wanted to be on my own was to get back into a relationship with myself again. I needed to take better care of me.

During the end of one of my rotations, I took the initiative to reach out to a psychiatrist. I made an appointment, even though I had taken antidepressants in the past and didn’t really like them, but thought that completely writing off that kind of help was keeping me stuck within this vicious cycle. So I went. I told the psychiatrist about my previous diagnosis of depression and generalized anxiety disorder. How I only get between 2 to 5 hours of continuous sleep at night. And ultimately my thoughts, feelings and struggles to just be happy with life and myself. I got a prescription, actually, two. I was prescribed a different kind of antidepressant than before; this time desparately hoping this would have a  positive effect than the last one had, and then also something for my insomnia. And not to toot my own horn but in the few weeks I’ve taken them, I feel dramatically better. So, toot toot! And when I say better I mean more energetic, less negative thoughts, more desire to just participate in life, and just to be happy and thankful for the one I have. Now my sleeping during the night hasn’t changed dramatically, but it’s getting better. I still have to figure things out with that. But I feel that my mood is definitely better and that’s something that I had been in happy tears about. This is the first time I feel like I can breathe and see clearly since I was sixteen. Feels as though someone just gave me glasses and an inhaler. But I want to really stress that these aren’t magical happy pills. I am taking something that assists in improving the biological imbalance in my mood. When it comes to medication for mental health, it usually takes a lot of trial and error. It’s kind of like trying on jeans. You can try on the same size at five different stores, but they’re all going to fit differently or even, not at all. Finding the perfect fit takes time. There’s usually no one quick fix, and it’s quite miraculous that I am feeling much better than before. I also want to say that it’s not weakness to seek help. You’re not wrong with feeling the way that you do, especially if you can’t properly regulate those feelings. The problem with mental health is not the people who struggle with it on a daily basis, it’s the stigma that revolves around it. Talking to someone is not wrong. Taking medication is not wrong. Living in denial, not seeking help and being around people who do not help you with your struggle or support your decision to get help, is wrong.

I also don’t want to push that experiencing some sadness is not ok. Being sad is a part of being human. Being sad also helps us appreciate the moments of happiness. We have a little sadness, or anxiety to balance us out and to push us. To keep us from making the same mistakes and actions that made us sad. To better prepare for situations that previously made us anxious. To make us learn. To better help us grow, because the problem with living your life in sadness and anxiety is that it keeps you from furthering personal growth and it keeps you from appreciating life. With time, I’m hoping this change within me continues to improve. With time, I hope I can learn to love myself like I used to. Thank you for reading. And please don’t forget to love yourself; you’re the only you that’s out there.

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