For 2015 I had kept a journal. On New Years Eve I had managed to finish the journal and look back through it all. This past year was my year of recovery. While I had been long out of my abusive relationship, it took some time for me to realize the extent of its impact on my life. By the beginning of the year, I had broken down. The high that I felt immediately after the break had worn off. The energy I had gained from the freedom waned. Everything slowed down and I started to see things within myself that I was otherwise distracted from by all external possibilities. My Fall 2014 semester at NYU was my worst semester by far. I had so many things interfering with my newfound zeal for life that I gained that previous spring. Worsening illness and family problems put me in a state of chronic stress that led to my crash at the end of the semester. Once that semester ended, I felt so numb and empty. The zeal I had before had no stable foundation to latch onto. Hopelessness and aggravated depression filled its place. I made a bed in that dark hole I was in and I cried for day. I felt robbed.
I almost died. It was August 6th, 2014. I was so excited to go for a swim in the Mediterranean Sea at sunrise. The water at that hour is just the right temperature. The water’s warmth combined with the scenic event of the sun rising over the horizon, spreading its rays beyond the clouds that try to contain it and embracing all that is good and bad on this Earth. It’s enough to send me to a state of intense peace; a way of furthering my emotional purging: My Catharsis.
I excitedly went in the water. It unsuspectingly lapped around me, inviting me to stay longer and never leave. Only I didn’t think that the sea was seriously putting that offer out to me. Not until the riptide took me away. In an instant, my smiles and laughter turned into screams of panic. I was trying to regain myself only to be taken away again, nevertheless, permanently this time. This couldn’t be happening to me, it simply couldn’t. Yet it was.
The amount of panic I felt was unparalleled to any moment of panic I’ve had before. Everything that I wanted to accomplish flashed before my eyes. What about my dreams? What about my goals? What about the difference I wanted to make? Is this really it? Is this the moment it all comes to an end? Why now?
I (used to) have suicidal tendencies. Depression, anxiety, poor coping skills and an unstable environment isn’t exactly the ideal cocktail. It has pushed me over the edge so many times. So many times I have felt the need to end my life, end everything – end the suffering, the pain. What’s the point if everyone is never happy? What’s the point if everyone is never satisfied? My self-worth was highly reliant on the views of those closest to me – especially my parents. I felt as if I always had to live up to their expectations and their ideal perception of how I should be. I guess it’s hard not to have expectations and perceptions as a parent but it would really get to me at times. I’m human after all. I make mistakes, I deviate and find my own way- the one that works for me.
But I didn’t understand that concept until very recently. Up until my point of understanding, life was all about trying to get myself to fit into a certain mold, a certain model self. Whether it came to my studies, intelligence, appearance, spirituality – it was all about becoming ideal. It was such a self-loathing mentality. Self-loathing and destructive. Over and over again, failure after failure to reach the high bar of my own expectation, I tore myself down. I would resort to self-harm to put a stop to that cycle- only to exacerbate it and promote it.
When I finally had my full-blown mental break down my freshman year of college, I finally took it upon myself to get help. How can my goal in life be to help others while I can’t even help myself? I wasn’t going to get anywhere unless I took charge on the home front. So that’s what I did. I went for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, I went to a Psychiatrist and got medicated and most importantly practiced positive thinking. Although it’s extremely hard especially for someone with depression to fight back the overwhelmingly pessimistic thought process, I believe it’s so crucial to recovery.
So, being on that beach was part of my way of fighting all that was pessimistic, negative and angry. I had come so far. I had put in so much effort and it was ending. In that moment. That moment that was supposed to liberate me. My heart and mind gave up, but that survival instinct that is so deeply ingrained in me didn’t. It was kicking and I was kicking. I kicked my legs non stop and my deepest agonies and fears that I would hold back came out as my strong, intense screams rang out over the now raging sea. It all goes by so fast, too fast to even think about. Yet, the soul knows that you’re not meant to go JUST yet. The soul knows you’re not doing what you do for nothing.
Believe in your soul, believe in your survival instinct, believe in your right to be alive.
It saved me. That and the sheer luck that struck me to have an ex-Egyptian soldier taking a morning stroll come and pull me from the clinging arms of the sea.
Regardless, I’m taking this moment to say that I will exercise my right to live – the way I want to – I know what’s best for myself whether it’s implicit or explicit.
No longer will I live to satisfy the needs and expectations of others, rather, I will live for myself, for my own life purpose – whatever it may end up being.
I invite you to do the same.
Until next time,
I can almost feel individual lymphocytes attacking my thyroid tissue.
Tired. Sluggish. In pain.
This, too, shall pass.