#2: How Do I Accept Myself After I’ve Changed?

I have been struggling with depression and anxiety for about three years now. Been in and out of therapy, medication, the works. All this while, I’ve been telling myself that the cure to my depression, is finding a way to become the person I used to be. But what I’ve gone through has changed me, for good. Almost so that I’m not the person I was anymore. But I have no idea to go about getting to know this new version of myself or loving this version of myself when a part of me is so convinced that I used to be better before.

Answer:

Here’s the thing: depression and anxiety changes all of us. No, really. Our brain literally changes when these go unchecked for long.

Depression+anxiety make you question yourself, your self-worth, your sense of identity, your whole existence all at once while also setting your brain on fire for questioning these things. Those of us who have the privilege of seeking therapy get to go to the root of what triggers us and what really pushes us over the edge to help us heal. Or rather, find a sense of normalcy when living with these furry friends in your head.

For now, though, let’s go back to the time you were the person you say you were. You say you were a better person.

But how?

How exactly do you measure better? Were you more successful? Were you thinner? Or do you think you were you fitting into society’s idea of better?

But also, were you less in pain? Less aware of your emotions? Less aware of what really pains you? Less aware of what really makes your bad days really bad?

What you were yesterday matters only to remind you that you survived the person that was. You survived the person that genuinely believed that they didn’t have a place in this world. That they were worthless and could achieve nothing. That their brain was shutting down and nothing was making sense.

Anxiety makes sure you are either constantly living in the present or the future. When depression is added to the mix, you just dig yourself a pit that allows you to wallow in either of those two phases.

The person you are today is awake. The person you are today is more present than you used to be.

You get to know this person bit by bit. You introduce yourself kindly. With a smile on your face. It’s okay to be nervous and awkward when you’re meeting someone for the first few times. This is just the beginning of the relationship after all.

Ask them questions as if you’re falling in love with someone for the first time. Ask them their favourite colours, their likes and dislikes.
Then go deep. Ask them what brought them here, what their childhood traumas are like, what really makes them mad and what truly makes them happy.

The only catch is that, unlike dating, answer these questions without trying to impress or judge yourself. The key is to be honest with yourself.

Regardless of our mental illnesses, we are constantly changing. Physically and mentally. When you promise to never lie to yourself, you are always in touch with the person you are and the person you are becoming.

So, be honest.

And never forget to write down the answers. This is not just so you remember where you came from. But also, so that you always have a record of the person you are in this moment.

And you never forget how good getting better feels.

Just One Of Those Days

Robin Williams died on the 11th of August, 2014. I woke up to go the gym the following morning and read the tweets that followed. They said (and still maintain) that he killed himself because he was battling severe depression. 6 am is really too early to process death, more so the death of someone you remember as a comedian. I heard the same line over and over – “The saddest hearts laugh the hardest.”

I should have started with the disclaimer. I am not writing the man a eulogy. I am just confused. I have been Googling the symptoms for depression since I was 13, because I am quite the hypochondriac when the occasion suits me. I have counselled far too many people in my age group in my capacity as Community Agony Aunt. So, why am I surprised that he killed himself? I don’t know. My mood swings begin with “Why me?” and end with trivialities like “Can eyeliner really make me look like I haven’t cried as much as Nirupa Roy did in her entire career?” We’re an easily distractable generation. I can find joy in cat videos after having my heart broken by a boy. I swear, that has happened. But when, at the end of the day, I crawl back into my mother’s lap and still think it’s not enough to console an inexplicable sadness – I ponder over these things and these deaths. No amount of instrumental music can calm the overthinking heart. Sorry, Yann Tiersen.

So, I write. I write to God, I write to him, I write to my father, I write to my feisty alter ego, Lola, I write letters to friends in distant places who I might never see again. I fill the gaps and I write to you. This is your couch I am going to squat on and tell you how I really feel. And you’re going to listen. If you want to. I think that is where they found their solace too. In words. I dread the day I won’t have a story I haven’t heard or haven’t told before. I don’t want to feel empty. Dear God, no. We are all overflowing with stories and words we haven’t heard yet. We are the solutions to our own problems. I think. Maybe Lena Dunham has something to say about it.

My best friend is right. We will never be entirely happy with anything. The way I see it, we’re only seeking something better and that keeps us going. I know that because when I checked my phone on the way to work after what felt like a shitty morning, I found my reason to get through the day. The realisation was enough to fill this heart already overflowing with too much to say. So, I said thank you.

Maybe, that’s what they didn’t have. A reason to say thank you.

PS – Depression and dealing with it is something that I take very seriously. Next time your friend or anyone tells you they’re depressed, please listen. I have attached a link for the symptoms in the text, so that no one has to ever be alone.