About a week ago, I posted that photo to my personal Instagram with the caption, ‘whisper sweet nothings in my ear like, “I’m actively trying to heal from trauma,” and “let’s break generational curses together.”‘ I was waiting on a ride to a Labor Day bbq, standing in the shade and thought the picture was decently cute and the caption relatable. I didn’t think much of it at the time, more focused on how to minimize my awkward for the 3ish hours I’d be surrounded by people.
Later that week a friend asked me, frankly, to think about when I was my best self: what my thought patterns were, how I viewed myself, how I got back to that point. Now what now? It was out of love, a painful and targeted concern for my mental health.
It’s obvious you’re suffering and not yourself. Let me see inside your apartment.
You never had a problem with me coming in before.
Things are different now.
The only real difference was that I had retreated further into the recesses of my mind, looking at strangers on the street and with each step wondering what they thought of me. She’s texting someone about me. They think I’m ugly. If my coworkers only knew me before I gained weight; I was so cute. Smile and be outgoing; no one will ever know. We can hide it. How dirty are these panties, shirt, jeans?
As my depression worsened and the tornadoes took over my brain, my space became dirtier, more cluttered, a physical projection of how I fight with my brain daily. To get out of bed, to take a shower, to cook. Hell, to think I’m worthy of taking care of. These battles took place completely within myself, against myself, and I assumed no one else knew. I was a one woman army, the only soldier in this fight, still trying to come to terms with being both ally and foe.
Apparently other people knew. The signs were there. Those that know me personally know that, for me, a cluttered mind equals a cluttered space, an overwhelming state of being I’ve always found it difficult to bounce back from. As the takeout containers pile up and more weeks pass without doing laundry, I will shove another item from bed to floor, reasoning I just need one more mental health day then I’ll slowly but surely wade through it all. And that’s why my friend pushed on seeing the inside of my apartment; it was the quickest visible marker of my emotional wellbeing.
It was that question about which version of me was the best version of me that made me return to my IG picture and caption. After my initial defensive denial, and demands to debunk what they were saying, I imagined being the type of woman my younger self needed. Someone to openly state they had been there. Not the sweeping ‘I’ve gone through that already’ statement, but a raw and honest ‘this is what almost broke me and this is how I handled the pitfalls, ups and downs, how I healed. I don’t want this to break you too.’
As I’ve gotten older, others’ secrets have unearthed: so and so was always a little cuckoo, this one was suicidal, you know who might be crazy. It was rarely touched upon and when it was, the lid was barely cracked open before being slammed in my face.
Why are you asking? was usually the response. Followed with a swift, slightly haughty,
Your life isn’t that difficult. You’ve never suffered. What do you have to be depressed about?
What I shut the lid on depended on my age at the time. 5 year old me hid the confusion surrounding someone at daycare jerking off, 10 year old me was too nervous afterwards and scared of not being the perfect daughter/sister/friend to divulge scraping scissors against my skin and swallowing pills not prescribed to me, 16 year old me screamed into my pillow (but not too loudly- another bedroom was on the other side of the wall) as a warped reenactment of the knives against my neck and back threatened to swallow me whole. We don’t talk about that here. Be strong. You’ll get over it.
What a curse, to deny our trauma. An uphill battle to acknowledge, honor, love our own existence. Why must it even be a battle- when did we learn to bury ourselves? Who said you shouldn’t be tender with your own being?
My depression, complex PTSD, and anxiety need not be suppressed, vanquished like something to be ashamed of.
I made the decision 3 days ago that was the cycle I wanted to break. I wasn’t quite sure where to start, and still am not, but that’s what the professionals are for.