The last thing I wanted to hear was someone telling me to look at all the good things in my life and be grateful for them. Grateful? Are you fucking serious? Grateful. The last thing I want to feel is gratefulness. How can I be grateful when all I can think about is staying alive and pretending I’m OK when my insides are on fire, there’s a voice screaming in my head, I’m terrified to go outside, my future has already been tainted by mental illness? I wasn’t stupid, but I had hoped depression would strike me later on in life. Not at 25 years of age with the rest of my youth inflicted with this kind of deep, aching pain that began with each sunrise. And you asked me to be grateful. I wanted to slap them in the face. I wanted to silence their laughter with my own words filled with rage. Nobody had seen this side of me and I had kept it hidden for far too long.
In high school, I watched death become a pattern throughout my teenage years. In college, I watched my mother walk around with pennies in her pocket and the worry of whether we’d make it to pay day without our electricity being shut off. I didn’t sleep at home much, but I hated being at my then-boyfriend’s apartment. I won’t lie to you and say I never looked at bridges as an escape. But would the suffering really stop there? I believed in reincarnation and knew if I chose to ignore the lessons I was meant to learn I would come back and relive this hellish nightmare again and again until I had found the meaning in it all. So I scrapped that. When they finally decided I would benefit from medication, I waited for what seemed like ages for the Prozac to jumpstart my existence. At one point, I popped more Clonapin than I should have taken just to get through a normal day. I road the train looking like I was stoned and on the weekend I supplemented my love/hate addiction for anti-anxiety meds with wine. Or gin. Or tequila.
And then, I saw a photo of me. I looked wrecked. My appetite wavered between overindulging and undernourished. It was like I was totally OK with just going through the motions of life, not really caring about what or who I destroyed along the way. I saw it in my eyes. I couldn’t cry but I felt my face flush and a lump rise in my throat and I stopped looking at Clonapin as a release. More powerful than Xanax, I researched Clonapin’s properties having the ability to make its victims addicted to the dream-like feelings it provides. A part of me did it because I wanted to live up to everyone’s perception of me as the damaged one. But a bigger part of me was just fucking sad. I was lonely. I felt misunderstood. I had tremendous support systems and yet I was too damn stubborn to let certain people in. I still am. I think I will always be a little bit of a loner and mistrusting of others until proven worthy.
In hindsight, you can ask me now about feeling grateful and I’ll laugh and say, “Absolutely. Fuck yes.” Did I hit rock bottom? Yes. Did I find it easier to stay there? Sure. Is it a bitch climbing out of those moodier days? Hell yeah. But wallowing in my self-pity party isn’t as fun anymore. So when you ask me what I’m grateful for, I’ll read you this post and remind you that the darkest of days bring the brightest tomorrows. I want to join in on your laughter and turn my internal fire into something constructive. These days are better because I’m grateful for the struggle.