By Rebecca Newbold
Five years ago, I reached one of the lowest points in my life. I didn’t know where I belonged spiritually; I had a lot of people spreading rumors about me; I never got very hungry so I didn’t eat much; I didn’t understand the point of life because I didn’t think I had a purpose; I had negative relationships with much of my family; I felt like I did not belong. When I was unable to get out of bed for school I was told that I was being lazy, when I would start to cry I was told that I was being dramatic, and when I would curl into a ball unable to breathe I was told that I was simply overreacting. In fact, these things were part of me for my entire life, but it was only two years ago that I was told I had anxiety, and a year after that I was told I had chronic depression.
I, like many others, have spent so much energy trying to “cure” my illnesses that I forgot the word “chronic.” Simply put, I forgot that these illnesses were not able to be cured. Therefore, I constantly felt like I was failing to get better. As many people know, the feeling of failure only drives depression and anxiety deeper, leading to a horrible cycle of emotions. So, you can only imagine how awful I felt when nothing I tried was curing my depression and anxiety.
This cycle went on for a while before I suddenly had an epiphany. By definition, chronic illness cannot be cured. They can only be lived with. This sudden realization changed my life. Instead of trying to not be anxious, I taught myself breathing and meditative techniques to cope with the anxiety. Suddenly, I was having less panic attacks because I had accepted that I was allowed to feel anxious, and instead taught myself to accept the anxiety and subsist. Instead of trying to not be depressed, I’ve implemented as much purpose and divinity into my life as I possibly can, including art, gardening, and caring for animals, all of which brought joy into my life. Suddenly, I realized that depression and happiness do not have to be mutually exclusive.
I have come to accept that I can have a dark day while still believing that tomorrow can be better, and, because believing is seeing, I have seen results. I have seen that there is a sunrise after every dark night, and I relish in that light as much as I possibly can. I have decided to accept my depression and anxiety as a part of me because I would truly not be who I am today without them, and I surely wouldn’t be able to accept and help others without the knowledge of what they are going through.
So, if you are constantly fighting the urge to find a cure, try to find joy instead- even in the small things. For example, dogs will often stop when the wind blows just to relish in the warm air, or will stop and stretch when they first get up because they know that feeling comfortable in their own skin is a priority. So, whether it is belting out your favorite song in the car, calling up an old friend, making yourself a beautiful meal, or just stopping to feel the wind, small things can bring you joy no matter what your situation is. And when you have a dark day and can’t get out of bed, watch funny videos just to allow yourself the joy of laughter (because you deserve that joy). Accept yourself for who you are and stop trying to “cure” the person you were made to be.