Depression: A coiled snake waiting to strike at the smallest disturbance.
I have worked hard over the years to learn how to manage this “snake” with coping mechanisms and awareness, but it always seems to be there, lurking. My struggles might not seem prevalent at times, but are always relevant. The darkness has ironically become my guiding light, keeping me away from the shadows that I know can consume me. The darkness that causes my worst days to feel worse than my happiest days feel happy. It is a constant reminder of how bad things can get and of the places I no longer belong.
I used to find comfort in my depression; a place that I knew so well. A place I understood and knew what to expect from. Happiness felt like a foreign land that I didn’t belong in. I didn’t know how to be happy but I was good at being depressed. I let it become a part of my identity, hating myself in the process.
Sometimes it takes shattering into a million little pieces before realizing you can’t go on this way. The tantalizing lie that there is no future, only disappointment. I felt trapped in a room, watching out the windows as my life passed by, without realizing the door was never locked. This lie kept me frozen in place, hiding from the life I wanted and deserved because the process of recovery intimidated me.
I made the choice to actively heal and grow, no matter how painstakingly difficult it was. Healing is not linear and I have ended up back at the beginning many times. But it always came with new insight and a stronger heart. My heart didn’t just crack, it shattered opened, allowing everything to pour out.
Heartbreak was the catalyst to my healing. Every piece I put back together came with new realizations, new perspectives, and a greater love for myself. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the broken areas with silver or gold. It treats breakage and repair as a part of the history of the object, rather than something to disguise. I always imagined filling the cracks of my heart with gold; even more beautiful for having been broken.
Choosing to see every day as new and making the choice to live with a healthier mindset takes time and dedication. Still, somedays, the storm clouds that float overhead can be hard to shake. I have learned to treat my mind like a friend and not an enemy in order to build trust within myself and find comfort in the darkness. I’ve learned not to fear the unknown and instead, boldly step forward. Afterall, fear is just waiting for you to realize it’s clothes on a chair in a dark room.
Mental health struggles may challenge me regardless of how good I’ve been feeling or how much I think I’ve healed. While my struggles do not define me, they are an intricate part of the person I am today. When my struggles come to visit, I know they are just stopping by. I spend time with my anxiety and depression as a comfortable accomplice. I listen as it reminds me why I’m on this journey before releasing it from my mind and body. I know now that I have the strength to pull myself up from the darkness that tries so hard to pull me back down.
I’m not perfect but I’ve never wanted to be.
We are all just broken pots, mended with gold. Proof that the challenges make us stronger and allow us to rebuild.