My Life

My Greatest Unraveling

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Welcome to my first post of 2018!

I know I was a bit silent on here throughout 2017, and I’m hoping to change that this year.

For me, 2017 was a very difficult year. I entered it full of hopes and dreams, but everything seemed to fall apart as the year went on. As I look back, I’ve come to see 2017 as the year of my Greatest Unraveling. But as awful as that title sounds, it’s actually turning out to be an incredibly beautiful thing.

2017, in a sense, brought me back to the feelings I experienced at fifteen—the year I first experienced deep depression. What brought me out of that depression before was a simple decision: “I’m not going to do this anymore.” And so, somehow, at fifteen years old, I had managed to shut down my depression. What I see now, however, is that I actually shut a lot of other things down as well.

If you know anything about me at all, you’ll know I’ve been acting for a long time (nearly ten years!). I began taking acting classes again this past September, after spending some time mostly focusing on writing. As I began these classes, I felt I was facing an emotional wall that was holding me back from doing my work the way I wanted to. But as annoying as it was and as much as I wanted it to come down, I found that I was terrified of feeling. I would come into class so anxious I felt I could hardly breathe, do my scene as if nothing was wrong—though I wasn’t reaching the emotional depth that my teacher and I wanted me to—, and then break down crying when I got in the car or when I got home.

What was wrong with me? I couldn’t figure it out. I would go to church and leave feeling emptier than ever. I couldn’t find the answers, couldn’t get the wall down, couldn’t get rid of the anxiety.

I left church one Tuesday with a terrifying revelation: I was ashamed of my humanity, and I needed to work through that before I could release it. I left for the beach with my mom and sister a couple of days later, a trip that I vlogged. It was a lot of fun, but what you don’t see in that video is our first morning on the beach.

It was just after sunrise and there was hardly any people around. My sister sat beside me, both of us on beach towels. We had driven through the night to get there, and had many hours to spend before we could check in at our condo. I ran my fingers through the sand over and over, a hollow space in my chest begging to be filled. I wanted to go home, wanted to lie in my bed until everything was okay. There was a part of me that had thought things would be okay the moment I set my feet on the sand and my eyes on the water.

But pain exists inside you, and no amount of distance can make it disappear.

I felt better over the course of the trip—when we were running around the beach in the rain, I felt more alive than I had in months. Then we came home, and I had to face regular life. What had built up over those few days on the beach crashed back down. It was around that time that I started to understand what was going on; I had shut a lot of things down, and they were starting to wake up again.

Over the next couple of months, I felt the emptiness more than ever. The anxiety was much more manageable, and I was making progress in class, but I still felt I had nothing in me. At the beginning of December, I reached my breaking point.

I was at church one Sunday, and I honestly don’t remember exactly what happened. I just remember breaking down in worship, and later coming home and writing. I started writing poetry early on in 2017. It served as a place where I could start being honest with myself and with God, so of course that’s where I went to write the most honest thing I had all year: “I’m not okay.”

I realized I had never really been okay, that I’ve been hiding my pain for years, that I had been battling depression all year but wasn’t willing to admit it (I actually was journaling early on in the year, describing some of the things I was feeling, and wrote, three question marks included, “This kind of sounds like depression, but I’m not depressed???”) (Spoiler alert: I was very much depressed).

It’s terribly difficult, to face the truth of what’s going on in your heart.

The emotional wall that I had been fighting against had fallen down, and everything that it had been holding back rushed at me faster than I could keep up. The past couple of months have been about learning how to handle and direct those emotions, how to live with them without drowning under the weight of them. Some days are easier than others. Some days I feel like I can take on the world, and others I struggle to get out of bed. The difference now is that I know what I’m fighting against and what I’m fighting for.

I write this because, though I learned to be honest with myself and with God in 2017, I know it’s time to learn to be honest with others. I know that I’m not the only one who struggles with these things, and we need to share our stories, spread hope, and give each other strength. Please feel free to share your stories in the comments section below, and if you need someone to talk to, you can check out this list of mental health hotlines.

I’m looking forward to what my journey of healing is going to look like this year. I believe it is going to be a year of resurrection and revival in my heart, and I’m excited that I get to share that with you guys.

Sometimes your Greatest Unraveling can become your Greatest Strength.

 

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