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Why I Hugged Rock Bottom

Written by Rachel Baker

I thought rock bottom would be a jail cell. I never pictured rock bottom as good grades and a clean room.

Rock bottom for me became an over packed schedule, planned down to the smallest of details as a means to ignore my constant anxiety.

However, it didn’t take long for it to transform into the type I had been raised to recognize since childhood.

My rock bottom tasted like unbrushed teeth.

It felt like heavy, greasy hair. The trip to the shower was a journey that I could never find the motivation to take. I once found a package of year old Halloween chocolates and a half empty soda in my room. That was my dinner.

I was starving, dehydrated, and unclean in a first world country. The people around me were baffled. They would shake their heads and resort to tactics such as criticism or prayer, support or absence.

I didn’t know that I had hit rock bottom until one day when I went to the break room at work. My eyes traced over my hair, stiff with perfume and dry shampoo to hide the fact that it hadn’t been washed in days. I saw the way my smile was stiffened, clearly forced. My voice had cracks and hoarse tones to it, straining against itself, begging me to give it water. My eyes had bags under them, large enough that they almost had an existence of their own.

Rock bottom looks and feels different for everyone. The only way that I knew that I had hit rock bottom was that I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize myself. This isn’t me, I thought. I was alive, but besides my heartbeat, I had no other evidence of it.

With depression, it’s easy to give up fighting. It’s easy to keep sheets on the bed for too long, to give up showering and to settle for dry shampoo and heavy perfume. It’s easy to forget to drink water, to find an old package of stale chips and call it dinner. It’s easy to lie down on the bed and stare at the ceiling for hours, finally reaching a calm heartbeat at an hour too dark to go out again.

It’s easy to hug rock bottom. But the problem is, rock bottom isn't always painful enough to make you want to leave. Rock bottom is when you don't want to take the steps to make your life more functional, leading to a life that is dysfunctional. 

Rock bottom is the lowest you can be. Because it can be so consistent, devoid of the fear of failure, it can be comfortable. Rock bottom is a security blanket that can take the life out of being alive.

Some people their build whole lives from rock bottom. That is the scariest part of all.

I hugged rock bottom because it was easier to embrace the option of not trying than to try and fail. I have since realized that my time at the bottom wasn’t spent living; it was spent dying.

It took a lot of hard work to make the move from rock bottom to the life that was waiting for me. I thought that I could go from not sleeping, eating candy for my meals, and skipping out on school assignments to a sleep schedule, completed assignments, healthy eating, and perfect results.

What I quickly learned is that progress isn’t perfect. It isn’t failing or succeeding. There is a grey area, and in that grey area are good days and bad days. Sometimes I am able to work on my homework and sleep enough and eat three meals a day. Sometimes, I resort to turning in blank assignments, or asking the barista at the Starbucks to add a triple shot of espresso, “Please and thank you.” 

But the beauty isn’t in the action, or the result. The beauty is in being alive and having the opportunity to wake up every day. I have more good days than bad days now. I can look back at how I was living, in a depressed, unhealthy state, and see a sharp contrast between the before and after. 

Regardless of how clean my room is, how good my grades are, whether I’m living on rock bottom or living to my fullest potential, I am grateful to be alive.

I am grateful to try again after each failure, to accept each success as something I worked hard for. 

Take the first step. You’re allowed to love your life.


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Standing on the Edge Looking Down: Hope After the Worst of Depression

By: Miki

A year ago, I was in a psych ward for major depression and strong suicidal ideations after already being majorly depressed for almost a year. I admitted myself because I was afraid of what I would do to myself (or others) if I didn’t, and I really, really wanted to get better.

When I left the hospital, I felt even more hopeless, and the coming months were going to be the worst of my life. I was barely able to get up off the couch, let alone take a shower, brush my teeth, eat food… I became thin and frail from not eating nearly enough, my muscles deteriorating from lack of movement.

I struggled daily with thoughts of killing myself. Utterly hopeless, in a constant state of complete despair. Many days I spent with a blank look in my eyes, unable or unwilling to even talk out loud. It felt like the world was closing in on me, crushing me, breaking me into little pieces until I would no longer exist.

Throughout this depression, I have sought any sort of comfort just short of suicide. At times I drank heavily, sometimes trying to drown my depression, while other times just trying to feel something, anything. I would self-harm, cutting myself at the worst times, or inviting/not avoiding things that would cause me physical pain or harm.

But, I’m still here. Bruised, battered, scarred, and still broken. But, still here. Still alive. And now, slowly getting better, day by day. I still struggle, a lot. But I finally have something I had lost and wasn’t sure if I’d ever get back: hope.

And as I stepped outside
the sun was shining on my face
I put my hand up like a shade
while my eyes adjusted to the light
for I had spent so much time in the dark
the light seemed too bright, blinding
It felt surreal, as if it weren’t happening
Slowly, I was able to open my eyes

And there I was standing
the ground beneath my feet, steady
The warmth of the sun washing over me
The sounds of life reverberating off the buildings
I tilted my head upwards, towards the sun
lifted my arms out, palms facing up
and took a deep, deep breathe
as if it were the first breathe I had ever taken

The comfort of the darkness continued to call my name
but I took a step forward, and another, and another
Soon my feet were pounding the pavement
running through the streets of Beşiktaş
past the market and the key shop
past the shoe repair shop and the tie-maker
past the cafes and restaurants
through the crowds of people

And I came upon the Bosphorus
water splashing against the shore
ship horns blowing in the distance
seagulls flying overhead, free
The crisp October breeze blew off the water
flowing through my hair and across my skin
feet at the edge of the water, gazing out towards Üsküdar
I can’t remember the last time I felt so alive

This piece has been reposted with permission. To see more of Miki's work, visit their website, or follow them on tumblr. To see the original work, click here and here.


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"Becoming Your Best Self With Mental Illness"
©2017 Sow Ay

©2017 Sow Ay

By Sow Ay

"Becoming Your Best Self With Mental Illness"

What does that mean? 

Actually, I don't know. I won't tell you how to be a better human, to play sports, to have a great morning routine, or to eat healthy food, because you've already read that everywhere. And you're probably sick of it. I am too.

I don't even know if I am my best self. There's a lot more I wish I could do. But everyone wishes that, right? All I know is that I try hard every day despite mental illness; despite the mental ghost that tries every day to take control of my life.

Mental illness should not stop us from reaching or trying to reach our goals. Some days, it feels impossible to go on. It slows us down. But that's not your or my fault. No, it's not because we're weak. It's not just in our head. That's the illness. That's the mental ghost. It's not us. And that’s okay. We need to accept that. I know it's hard to accept; it took me years. I refused to accept it. But I finally did. 

If you need help, please do not stay alone. The biggest enemy is silence. Have someone to support you. A friend, family member, a therapist, online communities... You're never truly alone even if you think you are. People care about you. I care about you since you're here. You chose to read me, and that means there's some sort of connection between us.

I don't know what I intend to do with this post. Maybe to give you some hope and motivation? That'd be great.

"Okay, I have accepted that I'm haunted by a mental ghost, now what?"

Well, try to do things. I know that sounds cliché but the first daily victory is to get out of bed. Now, the other victories are up to you!

Let's forget work here.

I spend my days drawing, listening to music, and playing drums. Because that's what I love. During that time, the mental ghost is more quiet. But it doesn't work every day. Some days, I just cannot do it. And that's okay; I will try again tomorrow.

I really hope you will find something that works for you. There must be something you like doing. Reading, drawing, writing, cooking, gardening, Netflixing,... There's so much to do.

Sometimes, it's hard to start. We don't feel motivated. But once you've started, it's easier, so you can try to force yourself to do something for 5-10 minutes. I believe you can do these 5-10 minutes. Like when you start watching an episode or start reading the chapter of a book. You started so you don't want to stop in the middle of an episode or a chapter and it's not as bad as your motivation made you think.

If you know I'm rooting for you, does it help? If that doesn't work, there's plenty of other things to do.

After you did that and it became easier to do, you can try with harder things ! Getting out to buy some food, going to the cinema (I go when there are no people, in the morning), having a drink with friends,...

Suddenly, during the day, something awful comes. OH NO! An event. An invitation to a birthday party, the announcement of a concert, my mom asking me to go to the cinema with her... 

When an event comes, ask yourself, "Do I wanna go?" If not, say no. Or imagine an excuse if you don't dare saying no. (I'm so bad at giving advice.) Just don't force yourself to do things you don't want to. 

I know; it's super hard to say no. I went to tons of events I hated too. But you know what? People are way more understanding than you imagine! I recently dared saying no and friends or family were actually understanding! They didn't hate me for it! Woah, that was such a relief!

Sometimes, I don't know if I want to go. Do I want to? Is that the panic that wants to prevent me from going? GAAAA, I DON'T KNOOOW…

It often happens to me when I'm asked to go out or when I'm asked to work or join a new project. Like joining a new rock band.

As a friend suggested, I write down the good and bad reasons to go/not go. Often the good reasons win. So I feel better about going there, even if it's hard. Yeah!! I'll try to join that rock band!! Even if I think I suck and I’m scared and I’ll have panic attacks! Like the little tasks and victories, it'll be super hard for the first few days but will become easier with time.

That's how I went to concerts, cinema or exhibitions after weeks of huge panic, closed up at home in my bed. The anticipatory panic is awful. I kept asking myself silly questions:

"Will I be able to park there?"

"Will there be a lot of people?"

"What if I get sick there?"

It wasn't easy to go; I spent a day throwing up because my panic didn't want me to go see Linkin Park. But I did. I mean, I couldn’t miss Linkin Park, even if I had to drive 5 hours to get there. I took bags in case I wanted to throw up but I made it!! I also spent an exhibition of mine hugely sick because of the panic and had to leave. But I went there. And these are huge victories. These trophies are bigger than the "got out of bed" one.

I think this is how I can say I'm trying to be my best self. I collect trophies.

And I hope you'll get plenty of them! You already have one, remember?

And you just got another one by reading this

Edits: Rey, and Sarah H


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