I talked yesterday about how the journey of recovery is a journey that never ends but is so important to begin. And as I posted it, I realize I never posted the start to my recovery journey. And I think it is important to do that because the start of my recovery journey highlights how good mental illness can be at normalizing its own dark tendencies.
Looking back, I realize now that I have probably battled depression and anxiety since I was in middle school, if not earlier. I felt like an outsider who could never open up, never form the types of strong connections that other kids seemed to have. On top of this, I frequently had trouble sleeping, sometimes getting only four hours of sleep a night as I would just lie in bed staring at the ceiling. And I thought this was just life. This was just how I was. I never thought it was part of an illness. I never thought it could get better.
And so this is how I went through middle school, high school, college, and how I went on to start law school. Some periods were better, but there were a lot of low moments as well. Through this whole period, I am so thankful that there were people who stuck by me, despite the fact that in my darkest moments I probably wasn’t very much fun to be around.
What changed was after my second year of law school the girl I was dating at the time pulled me aside and said that she couldn’t handle the insomnia. She couldn’t handle the bouts of depression. She didn’t mean she was leaving me, although my anxiety frequently tried to convince me that was the case. No, she was just expressing concern for someone she cared about and admitting that maybe I needed more help and support than she could provide. And I am so thankful that she suggested that because during those dark days she was maybe one of the few people I would have listened to about seeking help.
She was one of the few people I would have listed to because like I said, my demons normalized the lies of my mental illnesses, convincing me that all of this was just ‘how I was.’ In addition to that, there is a hurdle to seeking help, but there shouldn’t be. All through high school, college, and law school I went to the doctor for a variety of physical injuries and illnesses, and what I realized is there is absolutely no difference between that and addressing a mental illness.
And now, looking back on it, I am very thankful that I was able to get help and support for my demons. I am thankful to the friend of mine who got me started on my journey. And I am hopeful for all of you who might be struggling in the dark that you are able to start your own journey too.
Because like I said, the journey is so worth it.