How I Came To Reflect and Change My Life For The Better

It was 5:00 AM and I woke up to a very familiar, but extremely unwanted smell. My dog had just jumped back into bed, he is extremely agile and no matter at what speed he rips through our small one bedroom apartment, he always stops, on a dime, right in front of my face. I looked at him and I knew that my pup had just had an accident. 

I was irritated, but not angry. I’ve had puppies before and although he is just one and a half years old, potty training continues to be a bit of an opportunity. Needless to say, this has been one accident of many. 

Exhausted and not quite ready to seize the day, my boyfriend and I gear up with gloves, paper towels, pet cleaners, and a bucket. We’ve been down this road before. As I’m spraying and scrubbing the carpet I promise myself that my next place will be hardwood laminate.

I also think about how far I’ve come in how I deal with unexpected and unpleasant situations. Just a few years ago an accident like this would have sent me into such a place of anger that I would stew in my anger all day, telling myself that I couldn’t do it anymore and we would have to give our dog back. I’m sure you’re thinking what an extreme reaction to a little shit on the floor. You would absolutely be right.

My depression comes in seasons, I don’t mean the literal way where every winter I’m thrust into hopelessness and despair, I mean that there are periods in my life where I go through something traumatic but at the moment will feel like it’s not that bad, this will later manifest itself as a trigger to awaken my hibernating depression. 

Typically my depression will cycle, evolving from a series of triggers, something bad will happen and at that moment, my reaction will be dependent on the situation, but it will be somewhat muted at first because I may not have time to deal with it or I will rationalize with myself that what has happened is not completely devastating so I can push through. 

Later maybe in a few weeks or a month, something that should be tiny and insignificant will happen and I completely fall apart.

As an example, last month I received not so great news that my mom’s cancer had not only come back, but she was also going through treatment. My uncle was in the hospital from an unknown but deadly infection that had garnered the attention of the CDC. My grandmother might have TB and to top it all off, my boyfriend was struggling with his job and dealing with his own bout of depression and anxiety.  

I am a giver and I have a very supportive personality, so when all of these things were happening I had to be strong for those around me. I couldn’t tell my mom how afraid I am since this is her third or fourth time dealing with cancer. I didn’t have the money to fly out to Atlanta to say potentially say goodbye to my uncle, but if I had to max out a credit card to do it, I would. Plus I needed to support my boyfriend and be there for him while he dealt with his issues. I was fine so I could do it. 

On Wednesday night, just a few days ago, I was on my cycle and wanted nothing more than a joint, a steak and a glass of sparkling wine. It was all I could think about at work and when I got home there were a few dishes in the sink, not a big deal. All I had to do was unload the dishwasher and add these few plates and glasses in and I could have my steak. 

Well, I had made a smoothie the day previous and when my boyfriend loaded the dishwasher that day and ran it, he didn’t scrub the green smoothie crust out of it and all, and I mean ALL of the dishes came out with dried smoothie crap all over it. As I pulled a dirty dish after dirty dish out, I became hysterical. The few dirty dishes in the sink became an overwhelming pile and I just could not deal. My boyfriend found me sobbing on the floor of the kitchen, completely inconsolable. 

I was in the middle of a breakdown so bad that I couldn’t go into work the next few days and in what felt like a snap, I was back in a very dark place. Seeing the pile of dishes made me feel worthless, unable to maintain my own living space. I felt shame, I felt crazy and seeing the look on my boyfriend’s concerned face made me feel so desperately sad and unworthy of his love and comfort. This is what my depression looks like. 

I am learning to give my self allowances and forgiveness and that even though shit happens sometimes, it doesn’t have to be the end of my world. 

Fast forward to this morning. I am not all of a sudden healed, but I am calm and happy today as I scrubbed smelly dog shit from my carpet. I thought about how far I’ve come with my depression and how I felt so relieved that I wasn’t angry or crying.

I reflected on that moment on Wednesday night and thought about how, through the years, I have developed a recovery system that works for me. How I become almost militant about my mental health when I have an episode like that. 

I kind of hard reset and I’ve learned that I have to stop and allow myself to experience all of the pain that I previously put off, but I also make a deal with myself that I will not stay there longer than I need to. 

I cut out behaviors and actions that I believe enable my unhealthy lifestyle, this time around, it was alcohol and marijuana, substances that I have felt were becoming crutches instead of pleasurable indulgences. I am limiting my screen time and trying to be as productive as I can when I am on my phone and on my computer, opting for blogging/journaling in lieu of Instagram and mindless phone games. I decided that I wanted to get back into reading, I purchased Becoming by Michelle Obama. These are just a few of the steps that I take to get back to Jasmine. 

I am learning to give my self allowances and forgiveness and that even though shit happens sometimes, it doesn’t have to be the end of my world.  

Care to share how you are currently overcoming your anxiety or depression? Leave a comment below! 

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