On not being okay (and that it’s okay)

Somewhere along this journey I made a few really smart choices and have managed to surround myself with incredibly loving, supportive, and positive people. I also made the choice to be heavily involved in social media, a choice that I in no way regret and in many ways is a choice that saved my life. It introduced me to yoga and allowed me to connect with a community I wouldn’t have otherwise, and as I’ve said many times before, allowed me to find my voice.

But combine the tendency to ‘happy-wash’ our social media accounts, with a community of people who are over-all genuinely positive people, and there are days where I feel like every second post is something along the lines of ‘happiness is a choice’. A quick google search even tells me that there is scientific proof behind this - amazing! But sometimes, it just isn’t. I can choose to participate in things that I know often make me feel happy, and I will meditate, practice yoga, go for runs, bake, see friends, and journal - but I still won’t feel happy.

I do believe that happiness is cultivated from within, and I don’t believe it can be bought or manufactured. But I don't believe that a 'fake it till you make it' approach is healthy either, and that these attitudes can take away from the legitimacy of a person's struggles and make reaching out for help even more difficult.

A large part of my recovery has been rooted in being honest about when I’m not doing well, but I also have a tendency to isolate and through all the hard moments I’ve had in my life, the moments that stand out as the hardest are when I’ve said ‘I need help’. Three little words that in my world have come with so much shame I couldn’t find the strength to say them even when my world was crumbling around me. This past week of my life I’ve reached out and said those three words more times than the rest of my life combined. I’ve said it to family, to my friends, and to rooms full of strangers, and I have never felt so supported and so loved.

Years of substance abuse and the lifestyle went along with that left me pretty wrecked by age 20, and I had a lot of PTSD symptoms that I couldn’t handle and chose to self medicate through.Over the years most of the panic and fear faded, but the issues were never resolved and recently came back, and came back hard. I’ve found myself standing in a room of my apartment not recognizing it as being home and completely consumed by fear. One moment I’m a put together 26 year old working from home, and the next I’m 19 and I have no idea where I’m going to sleep that night and nothing around me feels real.

This has blind sided me, but when I look back I can see so many signs leading up to it, but as one friend lovingly put it - maybe I’m just finally ready to peel back that layer and deal with the things I didn’t have the capacity to before. But I also acknowledge that I don’t know how to deal with this. I white knuckled it through my first 20 months of sobriety on my own, just like I stubbornly do most things on my own, but I’m exhausted and I've reached a place of surrender.

So now I’ve reached this new part of the journey where I looked around at all the amazing people in my life who have stuck by me through everything and decided that instead of pushing them away, this time I would ask for help, and accept it in whatever form it comes in. I want to share this part of my journey because we all struggle, but often choose to keep it behind closed doors and there are so many times that I wish someone would have reached out to me and told me that I wasn't alone (psst, you aren't alone). And because it’s so easy to gloss over the tough parts once they have passed, but right now I’m in a place where the episodes are frequent, and the times in between are pretty shaky. I know that when I wake up in the morning I will still have this in my life and no amount of green juice or positive life affirmations are going to make it better.

But I know I still have choices. Today I can choose to voice how I’m really feeling, and I can choose to not attach to how people respond to that. Today I can choose to reach out to loved ones, and let them decide for themselves whether or not they will be there. Today I can choose gratitude for the good moments, even if they were few and far between. Today I can choose to be okay with not feeling happy, and not give myself such a hard time over it. And today I can choose to leave ego and shame aside, and ask for help.

Thank you to my friends, family, and community for the love and support.