I’m Still Alive but I’m Barely Breathing
For most of my life I’ve always tried to portray that my life is perfect. I have never done a good job of being real with people or showing my imperfections. This year I’ve made a goal to be more real. So, warning!! This is long and vulnerable.
Have you ever felt like you’re drowning and just can’t stay above water? That’s how I get 6 weeks ago.
Now it’s more like I’ve already drowned and I’m sitting at the bottom of the ocean with a weight on my feet and I’m surrounded by sharks. I honestly can’t remember how long it’s been since I made it through a full day without crying. The emotional and mental battles (from some very traumatic experiences I had years ago and other circumstances beyond my control) have left me feeling weak and worthless.
One of the hardest parts is that I’ve been blessed with so much! I have the most fulfilling relationship with the most incredible man. Like literally- we’ve never been in a fight. He is so good to me and we have a better marriage than I ever knew was possible.
I have the worlds cutest son, who is the happiest and sweetest baby. He is a dream! We are very financially secure. We have a beautiful home and cars. We both have great jobs. We are healthy and I’m in school for something I love so much.
Yet, these amazing things seem to be drowned out by the trials.
I know that I am blessed. I know that God loves me. I know that I’ll come out on top. But gosh darn it, it feels so impossible some days.
On days when it feels overwhelming I have a hard time doing anything. Honestly, life has sometimes felt like more than I can handle. During this same a family member who I love with all of my heart has battled with suicide and attempted suicide.
Buuuuut, this isn’t my point. My point is this- I’ve never experienced any trials this difficult before and it has been hard. While I’ve been in the midst of these trials, I have felt overwhelmed and wondered how I could go on.
This feeling, combined with the attempted suicide by a loved one, led me to write this post. There are so many people who are going through the same thing and want out. Through the darkness, I have learned some important lessons that I want to share.
1. Counseling is absolutely amazing and if you aren’t currently going… start now!!!
Counseling is beneficial in any circumstance. Whether you are dealing with depression, self-esteem issues, a difficult or abusive childhood, any kind of traumatic experience, addictions of any kind (food, social media, pornography) contention in marriage, fears or inhibitions, or anything else, counseling will help to bring you healing!
There is something so powerful about giving your trials a voice, getting it out externally, and getting an objective third party opinion. If your insurance doesn’t cover it, see if you have a university near by that offers counseling from their PhD students. At BYU, counseling is free if you are a student and $15 for everyone else.
Get yourself into counseling and get the help you need. There is no shame in counseling! It’s amazing and empowering to felt heard by someone, and for them to help you understand yourself better.
2. Accept abuse, trauma, hurt, insecurities and issues. Accept that you aren’t perfect and your life probably isn’t either, work on your weakness, and address the real problems.
If you grew up in a verbally abusive home— accept it! If you have an addiction taking over your life— accept it. Having issues and problems doesn’t make you bad, it makes you human!!!!
I have struggled most of my life with dishonesty (namely exaggeration). I never felt like I was good enough so I had to embellish for people to like me. Once I owned that, I had the power to get better and break the habit. And it feels more authentic owning that I’m not perfect and have things to work on.
Healing can only take place after accepting the real issue. You will live in a state of constant cognitive dissonance if you reject the very things that are causing you pain. I’m not saying this is easy. But it’s the only thing you have power over now. Whatever is hurting you happened in the past. And sometimes it was at the hands of another person. Either way, there’s nothing you can do about it now except embrace the truth and learn from it.
In our bodies, when there is an infected wound you have to open it up, clean out the infected area, and then apply a healing balm. Only then can you cover it and allow it to heal properly. If you skip the first few steps and just cover it up, it will fester and likely yield and infection that is worse than the initial wound.
The same is true for our emotional and mental healing. You have to open up the wound. It stings, it’s uncomfortable, it’s painful, but necessary. If you deny the core of the issue, you will likely end up with a much bigger problem than the original.
3. Stay close to God.
When you were born, you were close to God. Whether through environmental circumstances or choices, many people have left God. This leads to more cognitive dissonance. God is the Father of our spirits and the further we distance ourselves from Him, the further we are from true peace of soul. God is the ONLY route to unadulterated peace and eternal joy.
I’m not saying you can’t be happy and have a good life without God, because you can. But you are missing out on even more. Even if you are close to God already, cling to Him during trials. Pray earnestly with all of your heart. Speak to him like you speak to a friend. Laugh with him, cry to him, tell him everything. Read your scriptures and study the words of the living prophets on the earth today (check out LDS.org for these words). Get a blessing from a priesthood holder.
Do whatever it takes to get nearer to God. It’s possible that it could be the same joy and peace you DO feel during trials.
4. Ask for help and find reliable people that can give it to you.
It takes a lot of humility to admit you need help. But doing this puts you in a place to receive instruction and gain a support system. When your day sucks and your husband comes home and asks what’s for dinner, don’t be afraid to say, “It’s been a rough day. Can you take care of that tonight?”
Your reliable person may not be your spouse, in fact they may be the source of your trials, but find someone who you can pull into your inner circle of trust and rely on. Find that person and when you are struggling reach out to them. Honestly, it could save your life.
5. Take time for self care.
Life gets busy, you are drowning, and the first thing to go is you. That’s a mistake!!! You have to have the confidence and ability to make it through your day. That means you need to do things to help you.
My top recommendations (clinically and data backed) are daily meditation, journal writing, exercise, and stretching/ yoga. I’ve done these religiously since I’ve been struggling and it’s a game changer.
You can also do things like take a long drive, bathe, get dressed up fancy, clean, etc. Just avoid any excessive or binging behaviors that ultimately dull your emotional capacity or cause excess spending or laziness. These harm in the long run. But if you do things that help and invigorate you, you will feel more able to meet the challenges you face.
I can’t pretend that I’m living all of these thing perfectly. But I’ve found that through these dark times, each of these things has given me the hope and power to make it another day.
I have a long road of healing ahead of me. But I have the hope that it won’t be forever and I’ll be fine. I felt compelled to write these things and share my experiences. I wish that I was alone in this struggle, but I know there are millions out there who feel the same thing. My prayer is that this can help someone else who is in the same place I am. And if that person is you… know that I love you and you aren’t alone in this.