2021 was a tough year for many of us, and with only a few days left for 2022, I thought I should have an overview of how this year went by. It was tough, one of the toughest years that I have ever experienced. Instead of starting the new month with a zeal to work on New Year resolutions, I began the month with lots of pills. What started with distress grew to mixed anxiety disorder by September. I was taking pills to control my mood, to feel happy, to control my anger, to fall asleep, and to survive innumerable panic attacks. The good news is that I am in a safe space now and I haven't popped a pill in the last three months and I am considering it a win. I still, however, always carry a few pills for SOS.
It started with distress, which was described as situational but it didn't seem situational to me, it was becoming a permanent part of my life and every day started looking like a battle and I waited for a morning to feel alive for real but it didn't happen for a long time and then, I was diagnosed with Mixed Anxiety Disorder. Medically, Mixed Anxiety Disorder is defined as a disorder where symptoms of anxiety and depression are of equal but limited quantity, but together, they can disrupt your daily functioning. I just want to jot down the things that I felt during this phase. It was weird because even when I wanted to work, I couldn't work and it was not out of laziness but my inner voices were to be blamed for it. The inner voice constantly kept talking to me and saying stuff that I didn't want to hear. It was a battle against suicidal feelings and the desire to improve and take control of my life too. It was the time where I tried to weigh the pros and cons of death. It was filled with loads and loads of overthinking, sleepless nights, wet pillows, and panic attacks that forced me to step outside at midnight trying to breathe properly. It was also a stage when I tried to turn off my emotional switch to feel numb towards reality. I couldn't get over the feeling of sadness and loneliness. To gain back some control, to busy my mind, I picked up multiple freelancing projects only to miss the deadlines miserably. I fucked up my academic life, I stopped working towards my M.Phil research, I didn't put any effort to submit my scholarship form on time. By August, I lost my appetite and started losing weight drastically. I could go on for days without eating and still did not feel hungry.
How Did I Reach This Stage?
I worked hard, damn hard to become the person that I am today. I invested a lot of time and emotions to learn and unlearn to become this version of myself. When people around me tried to change me, it was unacceptable for me. It just didn't feel right to me, my inner voice kept saying I shouldn't change, that the values that I hold are good, there's nothing wrong with it. Therefore, instead of submitting to the expectations that the people were throwing at me, I rebelled. I voiced my opinion, I fought, I cried, I argued, I shouted, I asked for support but everything was falling in deaf ears. I was declared unfit for the society, to stay with a family and a partner. I was labeled selfish, mannerless, mentally weak, uneducated about real-life knowledge.
People expected me to adjust with the new environment without questioning, but I didn't. How could I adjust by compromising with my core belief, by doing things that I didn't believe in, I couldn't even fake it and when they realized that I wasn't adjusting, I was punished for it by mean words. With each remark that they were making against me, I kept breaking and just like that, I became a broken person and now I am trying to get the pieces back together. The will to voice my opinion, to fight against the injustice and stupid norms just died. I stopped fighting back, tried to keep my mouth shut, suppressed the building anger which I sometimes failed to. I had a few occasional anger outbursts and then, I reached a stage where nothing and no one mattered. I really became numb to both the good and the bad feelings, I just didn't care anymore. I killed all the expectations and started creating an emotional distance. I stopped expressing my true feelings. I started trying my best to do things that I felt I could do without carrying much of a burden on myself and just get over with it.
How Did I Deal With It?
The first and the foremost thing that I did was that I engaged myself in reading. I started using books as my coping mechanism to escape reality and to enter an imaginary but better world. I started journaling about how I felt and why I felt that. I started writing down my thoughts. I gave calls to my friends and seniors at odd hours, cribbing about what I was going through, seeking emotional support. I started venting out my emotions to my psychiatrist to get a third point of view. I cried a lot until I could no longer cry.
I then permitted to free myself from the notion of good and bad morals prescribed by the society. I accepted the fact that I cannot keep everyone happy and I started becoming okay with the fact that I am disappointing people around me. I stopped caring about their disappointments by telling myself that their disappointment comes from the failure to change me and forcing me to do something that I don't want to do. I started thinking twice and thrice before speaking. I created a list of personal goals for myself, I tried to focus on it. I paid more attention to my body and started working out and meditating. I started scheduling and respecting my time. I schedule everything from my shower and lunchtime to professional work. I started listening to feel-good songs. I anchored myself to the compliments that I received, reading and rereading them to remind myself that I am not a bad person. On this note, if you can compliment someone, please compliment them. You never know how your one compliment can uplift someones, especially if they are feeling low. Also, I started figuring out ways to make myself happy. I tried to be creative with my journal designs, I started writing erotica and sketching again. I started spending time with my friends.
Sometimes, I do feel the need for support, a shoulder to lean on but most of the time, I do my best to support myself.
I am in a much calmer space now, I have managed to shut down the negative inner voice. 2021 taught me to rely on myself and let go of the things that are an emotional burden for me. I accepted that yes, I am a misfit for the society but that is completely okay. Everything is fine, it is more than fine, it's good and everything will pass away and if they somehow manage to stay, I will figure out a way to deal with it. Lastly, I want to say that if you are having a tough time, don't give up, just hang around. You are stronger than you think.