Trials and Tribulations

There are days when the sun feels so warm that you want to go to the beach, drink a Heineken, soak up a tan and swim. Days that you can't wait to get out of the house to breathe some fresh air, even if it means just going for a quick jog. Days that you go to the Farmer's Market and buy fresh fruits and veggies to blend into your morning smoothies. Days that listening to your mom play "La Vida es un Carnaval" by Celia Cruz bright and early on Sunday morning provided you with the familiar comfort of knowing what home is, even if it meant that chores like washing the dishes and sweeping the kitchen were waiting for you. Days you wished would never end.


But they do. The clock strikes 12 and we're on with the rest of our lives. And as much as you wish you could run back to the comfort that yesterday brought you, you can't. And the days no longer feel sunny and warm. Instead you're greeted very harshly by days that, regardless of you wearing your coziest sweater, feel cold and lonely. Days that cannot be helped by having a warm concha with Abuelita hot chocolate while submitting to your guilty pleasure of "You Make My Dreams" by Hall and Oates. Days that not even your dad's home-made chicken soup can fix, even though he swore it was the cure for everything.


Because some days, the last thing you want to do is leave the comfort of your bed. And the stupidest thing you've ever heard is that you should change out of your oversized T-shirt because "getting ready" will help make you feel better. Days when nothing makes more sense to you than laying down and staring at your popcorn ceiling until you lose track of time. Next thing you know, you've missed another dinner and all you had for lunch was an iced caramel macchiato. And you realize — this isn't the self care routine you've practiced. Where's your paint supplies? Where are your facial scrubs? And most of all and most importantly, where is your dog? 


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But it doesn't always work that way. Some days, your self-care methods feel like a load of shit. You can mix red and white paint for hours but it still isn't close enough to being the perfect shade of pink that you need in order to see your life through rose-tinted frames. Because some days the switch from "Electric Feel" by MGMT to "Space Song" by Beach House is so sudden that it nearly knocks the wind out of you. And try as you may to express exactly how it is that you feel, your tongue trips over itself trying to keep up with your brain that won't stop racing until once again, you find yourself sitting in the corner of your room naming 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. 


Understanding the depths of mental health is hard. It's complex and it's intricate and it is completely different for everyone. There are highs, followed by lows, and for the most part, it's terrifying not knowing how long each phase lasts. So stop telling people that they're dealing with it wrong. Stop making them feel worse than they already do because you can't empathize with what they go through. There is no universal definition for how to try.


There is only trying. And some nights, watching 12 hours straight of Scandal is all your effort is capable of. Some mornings, not washing your hair but opening your window blinds to let the sun you once loved peak at you for one teensy-weensy minute is the best that you can do. And sometimes, that means admitting that you still wouldn't let the light in if not for your plants. But that's a start. Because some nights, not getting up to cook but eating the Crunch bar that is sitting by your bedside IS trying. 


And those are all victories within themselves. 


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Being diagnosed is a hard thing to talk about. It's even worse trying to write about it. Because the truth is, sometimes being diagnosed seems like the only thing you're good at. Scoring as high as 82% on your therapist's depression and anxiety chart before your weekly meeting almost feels applaudable. Because you didn't think you could ever be so good at something. 


But that's not true. You're good at waking up every morning and pushing through the day, even if it feels more like trudging onward with 50 pound weights on your back. You're good at recognizing what works best for you and when it works best for you. You're good at noticing that you're falling into a low place again. You're good at realizing that you don't want to feel like this anymore.


And you should be proud of that. You should be proud of the fact that you went to all your classes even though you had a small bathroom breakdown even if truthfully, it wasn't so small. You should be proud of the fact that you changed PJ's, even though you only did it because when you held your knees to your chest as you cried, your shirt caught your runaway snot. You should be proud that you want your life to feel like ABBA's “Dancing Queen" even though it currently feels like Kendrick Lamar's “FEEL.” and ain't nobody praying for you.


And that means something. It's more than something, it's everything. You mean everything.


So, listen to "It Gets Better With Time" by The Internet as many times as you need to. Play it in the shower, play it as you watch the clouds pass by while you lay down on the grass because you got bored of the ceiling, play it when you finally find the energy to push yourself out of your funk and clean your room. Because the truth is, sometimes we just need the gentle reminder that the storm does not last forever and it does get better with time.


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And hey, I'm right there with you. The high highs and the low lows. A lot of us have been there. To be completely honest, so many of us are still there. But guess what? There are people who care. There are people who empathize. And there are people who see your effort. 


Remember that the next time you feel like you're sinking. Remember that the next time the tide rises and you feel yourself start to drown a little. Remember that a life isn't a life until you live it.


And if nobody has told you today, I'm proud of you and how far you've made it. Please continue to make it.



For further help:


National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255