For a long time, I lived my life maintaining that my thoughts were my biggest enemy. I would lament about how I was constantly berated with mean thoughts about myself and was so angry that I didn’t have control over my own mind. I had tried a couple times in my past to seek out help, but each experience proved worst than the last. I had a therapist tell me once when I was 14 that I was lucky that something worse hadn’t happened during a traumatic experience that I shared with him. I had multiple doctors push anxiety medication in my face when I asked for help, and it honestly wasn’t until the COVID pandemic hit that I committed to helping myself out of my self-inflicted misery.
I finally procured a family doctor, got a referral for a proper diagnosis process, found my dream therapist and psychiatrist, and started the lengthy process of finding the right meds and re-examining the way I see the world. If you were to ask me how I feel about the lockdowns, I will happily admit that I miss the old world, but at the same time, I wholeheartedly maintain how thankful I am for such an awesome opportunity for self-reflection.
For months during the first lockdown, I was able to rekindle the relationship with myself that had debilitated through the years. I slowly started to get to know myself better, and those horrible mean thoughts became less and less intimidating. I learned how beautiful it is to treat yourself as you would treat someone you love. I learned all sorts of things about myself that I had never known before.
Suddenly, I was experiencing this authentic sense of happiness, and an overwhelming amount of gratefulness for rediscovering how beautiful life can be. The process has been long and ongoing, but I now know not to ignore those loud thoughts, but rather to hear the concerns that they have to share and respond to them. It took a long time, but I eventually realized that no part of my mind is out to get me, but rather, all the different parts of myself and the different ways in which they interact are just trying to look out for me.
That loud voice in the back of my head trying to get me to lament about something anxiety inducing is merely a part of myself that needs recognition. If I continue to ignore a part of me that’s really sad or angry or whichever emotion it may be, it’s never going to go away. That feeling is going to reside within me and continue to grow until it explodes out of me.
Through self-reflection and a commitment to actually work on your mental health and develop these relationships with the different parts of yourself, you can start to learn that life isn’t as lonely as it once seemed. For so long I felt alone in the world, and I’m so glad that I’ve developed healthy relationships with my emotions, as it’s becoming increasingly easier to identify them. I recently realized that my emotions no longer have control over me, but instead my emotions and I collaborate together to identify what I need in any given moment.
You have to develop friendships with the different parts of yourself. Though, it is important to note, you are not your emotions. If we were our emotions, then we would be them all of the time. I am myself, and while I might feel a certain emotion, I now know not to let that emotion consume my identity.
Another beautiful thing that self-work and reflection has provided me with is another opportunity for myself. As I continue to stabilize and develop routines that work for me, I’m starting to realize that my diagnosis and whatever symptoms come with it aren’t a curse, but rather a blessing. Hear me out: of course I have my down days, but what’s more important is that all of my experiences, good and bad, have taught me so much. After all, life is all about collecting different experiences and learning from them.
Those who have gone through significant challenges in their life know how complex and difficult life can be sometimes but can appreciate how important it is to be resilient. I’ve come to love and appreciate the challenges that life presents me with, because that’s what life really is, overcoming challenges and learning something new along the way. The only person who controls how you see the world is yourself, and I believe that one of the most important life lessons I’ve learned is that I can change the way I think about the world, and actively dedicate myself to finding the silver linings.