Two years ago, right after I went through my divorce, was the first time that I felt like I wasn’t myself and started to struggle with mental health. I started having thoughts of suicidal ideation and felt unworthy of my accomplishments which never occurred to me in the past. At first, I tried to justify my feelings as “normal” range of emotions common after going through a traumatic experience. Then, I found myself taking thoughts of self-harm to the level of holding something in my hand and questioning, “Is this something that I really want to go through with?” I was terrified of my own thoughts and knew that I needed to seek professional help to cope with the trauma.
I always felt that I had some form of anxiety because I was a gifted child and was in high stakes programs that kept me preoccupied. I constantly felt this pressure in my childhood to succeed. When you couple that with extreme sadness, it started this unhealthy pattern of spiraling thoughts that became increasingly difficult to get out of. Going to therapy, coming up with coping mechanisms, and pinpointing the root cause of a problem helped build a toolkit to navigate around my spiraling thoughts. There were many days where I would spiral out of control in my therapy sessions and would be told to “Stop and be present in the moment. Name 5 things in the room that you can see, touch, feel, or hear.” Those exercises really helped me get out of my mind and appreciate small things that matter. It took me about a year before all those self-harm thoughts finally stopped consuming me.
When the pandemic hit, I was already in a much better place because I was prepared to deal with my emotions. I started to channel my energy into being productive by throwing myself into work, learning new skills such as coding, and focusing on hobbies like making candles or knitting. I knew that if I didn’t involve myself in all these activities, then there would be a chance that I could easily back peddle into my former ways. It’s a struggle still but being in therapy has made me more self-aware about my trigger points and how to manage them. I am thankful for my experiences because I am not sure if I would have coped with this pandemic as well as I have, if it weren’t for this toolkit that I have developed. So for me, 2020 has been a level up year; I am now able to find a silver lining in anything which definitely would not have been the case two years back.