DAY 1 -“I’m feeling terribly sad but I don’t know why.”
DAY 2 – “I’m still feeling low.”
DAY 3 – “I feel like crying. I feel so hopeless.”
DAY 4 – “Something feels wrong. Am I unwell?”
DAY 5 – “I want to do nothing and go nowhere.”
DAY 6 – “I have no words to say.To anyone.”
DAY 7 – “I’m happiest when asleep. I just want to sleep.”
DAY 8 – Repeat of DAY 1…….or 2, 3, 4……..or worse.
My name is Lotta. Like you, I had heard about the big Black Hole. In my geography class, at school, years ago. Never realized, it would creep up into my mind someday like an uninvited guest and make itself a home there! My life, my thoughts, my emotions – all seem to have become a spiraling, deep, bottomless, hollow space.
I feel Blank and Broken. Tired of Trying.
It’s strange to find myself feeling this way. As if I’m turning into someone else. An unfamiliar, alien being that I don’t recognize. Feels scary and lonely. I am smart enough to ensure that no one is able to spot “the new me”. It also helps that everyone is pretty much engrossed dealing with their own lives, way too much to think about whats going on in mine! The thing is, I am kind of ashamed of the new me. Perhaps, because all my life I was told that I’m a strong person capable of dealing with anything. Guess what? I don’t feel that way! Certainly not at this time. I am still good at keeping up the social etiquette. This cons the world into believing that I am as fine as a fiddle. People always want to believe that everything is “normal” with everything and everyone. Its just easier that way.
Inside of me, I know how far away from “normal” I feel!
It takes a mammoth effort to drag myself out of bed each morning. The mind has no will and the body in response has no energy. Beginning a productive day is yet another battle. Not too long ago, there were things I could do in a jiffy, things I enjoyed doing, things that excited me – the same things don’t even occur to me anymore. My body hurts for no clear reason, the smallest chore seems to be a laborious task best avoided or left undone and any conversation with anyone seems so futile that I would rather keep my phone switched off and avoid talking altogether.
It’s not that I “want” to feel this way. Truth is, I hate feeling this way. But I just do!
I am drifting away. Away from those I love, away from what I want, away from what matters. I used to feel hurt, bruised and angry. I also used to feel love, excitement and joy. Now, I just feel numb. In the darkest corners of my mind, I wonder if its better to just die rather than walk around feeling like a ghost. My thoughts are halted by the reality that surrounds me. Smiling faces which adore me. They would be devastated if I should disappear from their lives. Not now. Not this way. I cannot abandon them. I want to free myself from the hurt but can I allow myself to cause the same hurt to those I love? NO
I need to get back to being my old self again. But how on earth do I manage that?
What was my old self? I’m reminded of an onion. It has these layers and layers covering its inner core. I am covered in layers too. Layers of emotional anguish experienced over the years, layers of turmoil raging within from adversities, layers of sorrows not shared with anyone, layers of dejected feelings left unexpressed, layers of hidden exhaustion from financial hardships, layers of grief from emotional loss, layers of disillusionment from unfulfilled dreams and layers of helplessness from real life circumstances which seem to have become more challenging with each passing year!
There are some good layers too, I guess. They seem to have thinned out under the weight of the unhappy ones. I find it increasingly hard to spot those happy layers these days. Do I need to peel off the painful veneers to uncover the pleasant ones? Do I still have the strength and ability essential to do that? Do I want to heal? YES absolutely, I do!
I want to find myself again. Desperately.
I look around my home. Its quiet. I like the silence. I dint want to go to work today. I have a decent job and earn fairly well. I’m not too old and I’m not unhealthy either! Yet, everything seems wrong, purposeless and worthless.
The door bell rings, bringing me out of my thoughts. I peep through the key hole. Its Otto. Why couldn’t he let me be? Otto is my brother. I adore him but he can be very annoying. He keeps calling or texting me. If I don’t respond he lands up at my door! He worries about me. I’m glad he does. It isn’t easy to communicate my despair with anyone but with Otto its easier. He cares in a non-judgmental way. I feel encouraged to share and not shut myself up completely. We all feel the need of an Otto in our life, don’t we?
The love, care and support of family and friends helps. Always.
Otto wanted me to see a doctor, so a few weeks ago, I went to see our family GP. Told him how I felt. Both in body and in mind. He referred me to another doctor whom he feels is better equipped to help me understand the what and why of how I feel. I trust my GP’s judgment and so I’m off to meet the new doctor. Otto has come to take me for my appointment. I don’t really want to go alone. I feel confident having Otto accompany me.
I am ready to see the doctor. Need help figuring out ways to regain my well being.
The meeting with the new doctor went through much better than I thought it would. I was a bit apprehensive and stressed before seeing him but he put me at ease with his calm and friendly approach. It was difficult to start sharing my life with a complete stranger but once I began talking it became easier with time. The doctor had an air of reassurance and quiet wisdom around him. It gave me a sense of comfort. Just the way I feel when I’m chatting with my friends. We talked for an hour. There were tears. There was heartache. All surfacing from a pit, deep inside me. I said things I never thought mattered, they did. I remembered things, long forgotten. I found myself talking about things that even I couldn’t easily recall on any given day!
A Pandora’s box opened.
Its been over six months now. I see my doctor regularly. A combination of therapy and support helps. Physically, I sleep deeper, emotionally I feel lighter, mentally I feel stronger. Not sure how long it will take, to feel the same way I used to but I know that I’m on the right path. I am healing myself. One day at a time. It came as a surprise to me when I saw the number of people my doctor and his colleagues see every day. People of all ages and all walks of life come to share their problems. Some older than sixty and some as young as ten years of age. From famous people to ordinary mortals. All.
Why do we think that the human minds health is not really a matter of concern? Or that it should be looked into from time to time just like the annual physical checkup we all sign up for? Why is it so hard to accept, that like any other part of us, the mind too can hurt and need healing? Why do we not give it attention?
Seeking medical assistance from experts and emotional help from those you trust is the first step to rediscovering lost joy.
It is inspiring to see other people on the road to recovery, it is comforting to know that I’m not alone on that road. I feel stronger, being a part of a large community of people who feel or at some point have felt the same way I do. There was always guidance available from loved ones and medical professionals. All I had to do was to accept that I needed their support and then seek it from the appropriate people. Once I mustered the courage to do that, I could begin to see hope at the end of the tunnel.
My name is Lotta. And this is a part of my life’s story. If you have felt the way I do, at any point of time, you need to remember that this is just a small part of your story. It’s not what makes you or defines you, it is not what you need to be scared or ashamed of. It is simply a part of you that needs to heal, which with time, care and love – it will.
Yes. It will be okay. It will all be fine.
My black hole is slowly getting brighter because now I know that too!
I am not alone. I can heal. I will feel better….. And so will you.
Urvashi Kumar Trikha
(Pictures Courtesy: Pixar Inside Out)