Figuring It Out
It might be okay to be mentally ill nowadays, but it still isn’t okay to be effected by it.
I’ve dealt with mental health issues for as long as I can remember, eventually landing into the diagnosis of manic depression with a side of borderline tendencies. I’ve spent my entire life sucking it up, holding back tears, and showing up even when I had no business being anywhere but at my therapist’s office. I had to keep going, keep pushing keep fighting...or so I thought.
A few months ago, I had a very traumatic experience involving a guy I liked and was beginning to date. It was the type of situation I never thought that I would be in again and couldn't believe how naive I was. I felt not only extremely debilitated from the pain of the incident, but rage at myself for not doing something about it.
This manifested itself in all kinds of ways, with many of the usual suspects: stress eating, extreme isolation, fits of misdirected anger, emotional outbursts, manic spending sprees, as well as some new crew members: drinking red wine every night and practicing yoga every day. However, the biggest shift involved none of these things.
I slowed down.
I gave myself room, time, and space
I stopped grinding my gears + biting off more than I could chew.
I stopped doing more than I had to, than I needed to in order to survive and pay my rent.
Since I was in college, I’ve always had multiple jobs, side hustles, and freelance gigs going on at once, never slowing down, taking a break, or allowing myself to breathe during nights or weekends (or if I did, I’d shame myself endlessly about doing so). I would run myself ragged, mysteriously contracting illness that forced me to rest or dealing with debilitating migraines that compounded all of the stress I was facing. I never truly stopped to rest or breathe.
Until this happened. I just didn’t have the energy to keep going at the pace I was accustomed to. I had to slow down. I needed to rest + reset.
I stopped all business activities, projects, and extra projects, outside of my day job. I stuck to completing the tasks I needed to and fully took the time off that I had earned. I didn’t use weekends to record podcasts or work on this website. I didn’t search for new part-time writing gigs or blast my resume to anyone who would look at it. I just breathed.
In this time, I’ve never felt better and I’ve never felt worse. Physically, my health has seen drastic improvements. I’m no longer catching colds every three weeks and feel much less anxious and more at ease in my daily life. However, I’ve also felt somewhat stagnant and at war with myself over my ideas about ambition. I saw that I might be better off abandoning these ideas I’ve held myself up to and the standards around hustle I’ve created.
Truthfully, I’ve also been going through a pretty rough depressive episode, as a part of my manic depression. I haven’t had the same level of motivation, or even capacity, to keep up the workload that I was used to. I needed to rest, because I didn’t have it in me to do anything else.
The question is, what do I do now, going forward? I was all in for this startup and this journey, but I ask myself if there’s a way to do it without living the grueling start up life, with start up hours and lack of rest/sleep/fun. I honestly don’t know. But, I hope you’ll stick with me as I find out, rediscover the meaning of work, and pull myself up from the painful reality I’ve been stuck in.