Here’s a “little” tale about how I started over in my life. A lot of my friends are amazed by the paths I’ve traveled in my relatively short life-span, and many assume that I must have some “secret” to how I’ve rebuild my life again.
I suffer with (mild) depression, anxiety, and PTSD, yet I seem “put together” more so than my other peers who suffer with the same illnesses or more difficult ones. This often attracts all types of people to me, who are searching for a path of happiness in their own lives, looking for “the secret” that they swear I must possess.
I don’t have any such a secret, nor am I “lucky” to have found my current level of treading water with a smile on my face, as I swim against the tide toward shore.
My honest “secret” is that I work hard for it. I know, this pisses off some people, because they are hoping to hear about a magic pill or a special relaxation therapy, but there are no such easy solutions. If there are, I’ve never found it. o_O
A year and a half ago, I was in a very bad living situation, in Philadelphia. I had just published my first book, when I got out of a very abusive three year relationship, and I had to attend funerals for lost loved ones. My level of depression and grief was beyond unbearable, to the point that I couldn’t properly celebrate or care about my book achievements. The thoughts of suicide was slowly creeping in on me,
On top of that, drug addicts were taking over the house that I had lived in my entire life, well before any of them was ever born. i bought a hunting knife and slept with it nearby, always prepared to defend myself against the sudden violent outbursts of one particular raging addict. My home did not feel like my home anymore, I had lost that too. u_u
And sadly, I began to drink every morning and night, in a poor attempt to function. I was well on my way to becoming an alcoholic, if I had stayed in that situation. In those sinking moments, I made excuses on why I was choosing to just give up and accept a fate of dying in that place.
However, one of my dominate traits is that I’m a very stubborn woman, even at my worse I don’t really know the meaning of giving up. I fall down, I may even stay on the ground for a while, but I have a habit of crawling back to my feet again. I decided to myself, “No… I’m not going to go out like this! My story isn’t going to end this way, no matter what I have to do!”
It’s true that my sister and her wonderful friends offered me a way out of my hell, when they agreed to let me come stay at their home in Minnesota. Although, I wasn’t handed the means to get there, so that part was entirely up to me.
There was no special program, no white knight with a bag of money, no miracles, drug or quick fix that would gain me a ticket to a new life. I have a low income, so in order to escape and start over, I had to make sacrifices and to save my money for a four hundred dollar plane ticket. It took me four months to do so.
I only allowed myself to pay my bills and I saved everything else. There was clothing that I needed and new video games that I wanted, yet every time I got the urge to spend the money, I reminded myself that if I bought that new game or bought a new pair of pants, that meant that I was damming myself to stay in that horrible place in favor of those material things.
It was difficult not having anything for those four months, but what I was after was more important than entertaining or clothing myself. It didn’t matter if I had only a few shirts and pants, half of them were riddled with holes, or that I didn’t have a new game to distract myself from the grief and daily drama that I was experiencing. What I needed and wanted was much more important.
When I first arrived in Minnesota, I was tired, grief-stricken, of poor health, terrified, and completely broke. I didn’t have a dollar to my name, literally, as I landed in a new town with a small rolling duffle of tattered clothing within it. To say that I was panicked would be an understatement.
The first six months of living in Minnesota, I was severely homesick and I often thought about turning back to my formal hell. I felt that maybe it would be better for me to die in Philadelphia, in a familiar bad situation, because starting over and deciding to live in a new town was just so very terrifyingly new for me..
Again, I am a stubborn woman, so I sought therapy and found a very good one to help me sort out my fears and anxieties. I found a very good medical doctor as well and now my health is good, better than it has ever been in Philly. I eat better and therefore I lost a lot of weight over the months. And with my continued income, I was able to slowly buy new clothing and throw away most of the tattered ones I originally showed up with.
Even though my therapist is awesome, the fact is that she doesn’t pull the cart, while I get to lean back and enjoy the ride. A lot of people make that mistake, of believing that a therapist does all of the work for them and they do nothing.
As I told my best friend once, “Therapy is my gym. With every session, I have to be the one to work the machines and do the heavy lifting, because the machines aren’t going to do it for me. So, with every session I put my all into it, I walk away from it feeling out of breath and a bit tired from the workout that I’ve put into it,”
There is no easy or one-way answer to starting one’s life over or to gain happiness in this life. The only thing that seems to work for me personally, is working hard for what I want, every day. I had to work to get to Minnesota, I have to work to stay above water, I have to work to keep moving forward. If I don’t work, it isn’t done magically for me, there’s no way around that.
I am not on any medication, so I can’t suggest it. I am not on any spiritual high, so there’s no god (or goddess) that I can suggest. I am not leaning on a lover, nor do I drink to self-medicate myself anymore. I am not getting any “special” kind of therapy, just the usual “cognitive behavioral”, a default treatment for those suffering with anxiety and depression.
I use my strong legs to keep moving forward. And I’ve managed to carve out a pretty decent life in this new town. My eyes are set ahead and I can’t wait to see how far down the path I’ll travel.
I haven’t found a “secret” to beating depression or THE answer to restarting one’s life over. My “trick” is working hard and being stubborn enough to not give up or give in to the negative (nor entertaining negative people). I want to live and I want to find happiness, so I continue to travel paths that are not always comfortable or easy, in order get what I want. I fight like hell.
“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
Thank you for reading my story. And positive wishes to everyone who’s fighting against the current. Don’t turn ’round and keep moving forward. ^_^v