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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