Peace comes from within – Buddha
It was almost comical as I kept repeating “inner peace” over and over again to myself, just as I’d once seen Master Shifu do it in Kung Fu Panda. If only attaining it was as easy as saying the words. If only achieving anything was as easy as thinking about it. The power of positive thinking, they say.
I’ve always been a discontent person, it’s in my nature. I’m never satisfied; whenever I am, it’s temporal, fleeting. It’s an honest to god admission. This little ill trait has bred so many others in me now, that I’d have to borrow hands to count them on fingers. I’m too impulsive, too reckless, too stressed, too tensed, to name a few. But it’s been about three months that I’ve been struggling to find peace – within and out, struggling more than ever. So it would suffice to say all those toos just got magnified into fours, eights, sixteens and so forth. Getting anxiety attacks and coming down with depression was not a shocker at that point.
We, and by we I mean the 90s kids, are at that strange stage in life when we’re supposed to be either figuring out where we’re headed, or have it figured out, or the best – already begin working on it. The pressure is intense. Everywhere you look, people are going somewhere, doing something, while you feel you’re stuck in a time lapse that you cannot get out of. It’s ironic how all those people we are looking at, are thinking that exact same thing. Everyone is stuck in their own time lapse. The one I was stuck in just began running extremely fast, making everything spin out of control in my head.
I was making mistakes right and left, trying to solve them and ending up making even more. My brain just gave in under all that debris. I lost all the energy I had in me to do anything, even the things that gave me joy. A simple task of getting up to go eat lunch felt like a herculean ordeal. Waking up, taking a shower, going to work, working, eating – all mundane tasks people didn’t really have to think twice before doing were taking tremendous effort on my part to get done. I began feeling like an imbecile. The fact that my brain was now working against me didn’t help at all. It shut down every time I decided to change things, I believed – truly believed – that I was nothing; that the world would still be the exact same if I didn’t exist, that it would be better off in fact, if I didn’t.
Slowly, I began rationalizing every consequence of my death. The emotional loss that my loved ones would face would fade away with time. There was nothing else that would change. I could honestly think of nothing, and it was a jarring thought. My anxiety would kick in at such moments and I would feel I need to change this, that I need to matter, that I need to make some difference – but the depression would silence all of it with just a simple – but what’s the point? You’re going to die anyway. It was a constant battle with myself. And let me tell you, you can fight people, you can fight loved ones, but the hardest battle you’ll ever face is the one you have against yourself.
I had good days when I’d feel like myself, smile and laugh and feel good in general – I couldn’t even think of not existing in this world and missing out on everything I had. And then there were the not-so-good days when everything was bleak and I dreaded every minute that passed by, all I wanted to do was hole up somewhere and sleep, forever. I seeked medical help after a few serious episodes of anxiety attacks and thoughts of dying. I hadn’t attempted ending my life, I couldn’t bring myself to do it because of my anxiety, so in a way I’m glad I had it.
I began talking to my friends about it. A really, really difficult step because the depression makes you feel so worthless and such a waste of space that you feel like any kind of help that you seek is a crime. I felt like a burden to everyone I shared my thoughts and problems with. Every time I had a panic attack and wanted to call my friend up to talk to her, I felt I didn’t deserve to feel better, for no particular reason but just because. I’d lie in my bed all morning, with my eyes closed, wishing to never wake up. Minutes would tick by and turn into hours and I’d be glad that time never really stops. I’d never known nothingness of this expanse before. I’d never imagined myself capable of creating it.
I’d lost track of time, days, feelings, words, people, myself. Days felt like seconds and seconds felt like years. I told my mother about it, after hours and days of worrying over it. I still don’t think she truly understood what was happening with me, but I loved her all the more for whatever methods she tried to do to fix things (some of them were counter-productive though, I’ll admit). She stopped me from taking the medicines, I protested but she insisted they weren’t the solution to anything. And maybe she was right, they weren’t making any difference anyway. I began writing a journal, to vent my mind into. It was ugly at first, words scattered and strewn across the page like broken glass, sharp and brittle. I could barely form cohesive sentences.
I kept reading up about what was happening with me and felt little comfort in knowing there were so many other souls facing their own battles for years now. I was terrified of the thought that I might have to face mine for such a duration as well. I wanted everyone around me to give up, so that I’d stop feeling like such a disappointment all the time. I wanted them to give up so I could make up another excuse to give up as well. It was shameful to admit these things to myself, much less anyone else.
I still don’t know what it was that makes me get up every morning. Maybe it’s my anxiety about disappointing the people who care about me, maybe it’s the fear that I don’t want to turn into nothing. I’ve stopped fighting with the reasons. I’ve stopped fighting with my thoughts. For every time I did, I’d end up in this paradox that I saw no way out of.
I won’t lie – I’m still half-drowning. I still move about my day a little half-heartedly, every smile and laugh still feels forced – something I know I have to do. Things don’t feel natural as they used to. But it’s something. And believe me, anything is better than nothing. Even knowing that I’m trying, makes me feel like I’m winning. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t – but if I don’t try, I definitely won’t. I just needed to focus on the efforts, and not the results. Sure I could fail a hundred times, but I’d rather think that I tried a hundred times. Perspective made such a huge difference for me that I don’t think any amount of emphasis that I give to it would ever be enough.
I wish I had ways I could tell you about that I use to bring myself out of the pit I get stuck in, but I don’t. I don’t think I’m still out of that pit. I’m still at the bottom, but I’m no longer hopeless that I will never get out. I know my friends are all reaching out as hard as they can to pull me out, some even drop in and sit with me so I don’t feel alone. But at the end of the day I know I have to get out on my own, and that it will be me who makes that climb. I am at least at the stage where I know good things are waiting for me at the end of the tunnel, and that it’s okay if I’m stuck here. It’s okay that I’m not frantically trying to get out, as long as I’m not digging myself in further. It’s a funny thing really, but I’d tried all the methods I could find to calm myself down during the panic attacks, but what worked the most was “It’s okay”.
And it really is.
It really will be.