I’ve been, and still am, on a “healing” journey for the last two or so years.
You know, when you start to seriously look at your patterns and behaviours, what’s not working anymore, and what needs to change.
But I’ve been hesitant to talk about it for a few reasons.
One, it’s scary to be vulnerable and transparent in this way, yes. But also because I struggle between wanting to fight the stigma of mental health and wanting to make others feel less alone in their experience, and between feeling like this is my private life, and I don’t want strangers on the internet to know these intimate details about me. I don’t want to “air my dirty laundry,” as they say—but then, it’s not dirty laundry, is it? Because it’s stuff we all face and struggle with, and we shouldn’t only talk about love and romance or post our morning smoothies on Instagram.
The other reason is that I’m still not “there” yet. Whatever being “there” even means. And really, are we ever there? I know when I’ve read articles that talk about how someone healed x, y, z issue, I often found this sense of false hope—like if I follow exactly what this person has done, I’ll get to this magical place where everything is better. Only, nothing would change, and I’d still be doing the same sh*t over and over again.
When I’ve been in bad places in my life, often reading these healing articles made me feel worse; I’d just get more frustrated with myself that I wasn’t at that point, and why couldn’t I be there, and I’d spiral into self-criticism. So instead, I’d search for articles that talked about what it’s like to be at the bottom. How days of dark depression feel. Why it’s okay to not be okay.
We are all different. We all have our unique paths to getting to where we need to be, and I don’t want to advocate that my way is the right way and that this is the magic formula that will solve all of your problems.
But what I can say is this: I am getting better. I am in a much better place than I was this time last year and yes, I have setbacks, and I still have days when I don’t want to do life, but it’s better and less frequent and goddamn that’s got to count for something.
So, if you’re still reading and want a few tidbits of advice on how to face your problems and start your own healing journey, here are some things I’ve done:
1. Antidepressants. I’ve struggled with depression over the years, but most recently, my struggle has been particularly with PMMD. There’s so little information about it out there, but for about two weeks every month, I go to a really dark place. I finally went to the doctor about it and she immediately prescribed me antidepressants and also recommended therapy, which I’ve done in the past. I can’t express how much these have helped.
2. Therapy/coaching. I’ll say it: I f*cking love therapy. Talking to an objective third-party member about your problems and they just have to listen? Sweet! I’d done it off and on for years, and recently I started doing coaching instead to work more specifically on body image and self-esteem. It can be pricey, but there are options out there for people who need financial aid.
3. CBD oil. A few people recommended CBD oil to me. I take a light dosage—one spray in the morning and one at night and it’s helped level me out. Less anxious, ruminating thoughts, and it helps me sleep like a baby.
4. Self-help books. I love to read fiction, and I’d never picked up a self-help book in my life before earlier this year. I started listening to This Naked Mind podcast and bought the book immediately. I’d also recommend Blackout, by Sarah Hepola and The F*ck It Diet, Caroline Dooner.
5. Yoga/running/physical practice. In quarantine especially, yoga has been a life-saver. I cannot recommend enough beginning a yoga practice if you don’t already have one. Physically fitness helps clear my head and put my thoughts into perspective. It also helps my confidence and allows me to focus on small goals I can easily achieve.
6. Alone time. Lockdown totally on your own? What better time than to go within and spend time with yourself. I got back to doing things that I love like painting and creative writing and watching my favourite shows and, of course, yoga. No matter if we’re in a relationship, living with housemates or family, it’s important to carve out time to spend with ourselves.
7. Boundaries. I didn’t realize how empowering boundaries were until I actually began practicing them. I struggle mostly with boundaries in my romantic life; finding it difficult to say “no” or to ask for what I need and to be treated a certain way. When I started understanding myself more and what I deserved, it enabled me to create boundaries with those who didn’t respect that.
There’s no one-size-fits-all for healing. I sometimes feel like I’m doing the Willy Wonka dance: one step forward, two steps back. But I do feel like I am beginning to make some progress.
The other day something “triggering” came up, and I felt myself reacting like I would have about two years ago. I felt so overwhelmed and frustrated—I’d been doing “the work,” wasn’t I supposed to be fixed by now? I took some time away from my phone and computer and got my mat and breathed through a gentle flow. I showered. I read a few articles on Elephant. And a few hours later, I was able to see what had been really going on and why I was reacting this way.
We won’t ever be perfectly fixed and life will constantly throw us objects that cut and bruise us. But slowly, the wound heals just a little bit faster.
And that’s why scars are there—to remind us how we’ve been hurt and how it’s gotten us to who we are now.