Sunday / June 21, 2020.
My stories usually start with something that’s hurting me, bothering me, or something that is simply not doing me any good. I’ve wanted to sit down and write this for myself for the longest time. Here’s the thing; I always talk about my growth and progress but it always comes after I mention a million things that hurt me in the past or still hurt me. I tend to be way too hard on myself so I hope this will challenge me to appreciate and remind myself of just how much I’ve gone through and how it made me the person that I am today; which really isn’t that bad at all. Wow, did I just say something positive about myself??? Today, I finally decided to sit down and write about my growth and see how aware I am of it. I’m curious to read this story when it’s finished; here we go. So, even though I’ve managed to become kinder to myself over the years, I’m still a very self-critical person. I still underestimate myself. I often forget how many rare qualities I possess. I often forget how kind, compassionate and loving I am. I often catch myself thinking about the times when I knew better but just didn’t do it. I still think of the times when I said something that I didn’t necessarily mean. I still think about my past college experience and my depression during that time, and wonder if there was a way to make it but I just didn’t try hard enough. I wonder if I could’ve been more effective and functional even with my depression. Now that I’m writing this, I think I’ve done a pretty good job. Let’s start with the fact that I’ve been depressed since 2014 when I was 16 years old. A lot of heavy things were happening at that time and unfortunately, I got sick. That’s why I started writing a journal, it’s how I cope(d) with my thoughts and feelings. Despite my depression, I managed to survive high school. Grades got a little worse every year but they were still pretty good. I passed the state exams and got decent grades on those as well. At the age of 18, I applied and got into journalism school. Good job girl! Around 19, I stopped neglecting my reality. After three years of trying to live with a heavy chest pretending like it was nothing, I finally gave myself the right to feel what I had to feel. I also dared to tell my family I wasn’t feeling well even though I knew they might not understand it. By the end of 2017., I made the brave decision to leave the university that I didn’t like despite having that terrible fear of disappointing my parents. I was already suffering from anxiety and depression when I started it, but going there and not liking it made me even more depressed. I kept forcing myself to like it but I couldn’t study for those exams. Yes, I was depressed and it was extremely hard to focus on anything, but the fact that I didn’t like what I was studying made everything so much harder. After I left university, I was convinced that I wasn’t capable of learning new skills, using my old skills or anything else basically. The next six months were one of the hardest of my life. I became aware of depression more than ever. I had just had foot surgery, I couldn’t walk for almost two months so I had more than enough time to think about everything. Becoming aware and actually realizing how bad it had gotten at that point, I knew I had to do something in order to save myself. I acknowledged that I needed help more than ever. In 2018., a job opportunity came by and I dared myself to apply. I ended up getting it and I did absolutely great at it. I was finally able to afford therapy and get much-needed help. Lifechanging is an understatement. The following months were interesting. I was going to therapy, I was working, I had responsibilities again and I was learning to function even with my anxiety coming to work with me every day. Things got a lot better and life started making a little more sense. I did a great job at work so I ended up getting a higher position the next year. 2019., therapy continues, I keep learning, growing, and still doing pretty good at work. After my first university experience left me traumatized, I was convinced I would never study in Croatia (where I live) ever again. Even with all the traumas and fears, I still made the amazing decision to go back to education and study again. I applied and got accepted. I’m officially a social work student at Zagreb’s school of social work. We’re still in 2019., the year that I will remember for the rest of my life. My grandma passed away on June 16th, 2019. It was by far the most painful, the strangest experience of my life. This was the first time that I had to accept that I can’t ‘just do something about it’. The first time that I truly couldn’t do anything about it and understood that. My grandma meant the world to me. I became heartbroken, my entire world crashed. I was in so much pain but I didn’t turn to drugs or alcohol or anything like that. I’ve lived with my pain every day ever since and after some time, it became a natural part of me. It’s been a year a couple of days ago. I still struggle to accept it sometimes, to be completely honest. Overall, I think I’ve been handling her death as well as it can get. Some days are awful, some days are okay. I think that’s pretty common. After my grandma died, I realized a lot of things. One of the things was how toxic some of my friendships had gotten. Even though I had so much love for this person, for my own sake, I decided to end our eight-year-old friendship and go my own way. The person lives in a different country so I had to do it via text message. My hands were shaking while I was doing it, but I had no other option. It was a friendship that drained me so much over the years because I was always the one trying harder. I decided to try harder for myself this time. It’s been almost a year and as bad as it sounds, it was definitely the right decision make. My employment contract ended and school started shortly after. I felt like I was starting over and I felt like I was on a different path. I felt like I was at the right place as soon as I stepped into this new school. I love it so much and I go there with so much joy. I was going to therapy for a year at this point. I was doing good learning to live with my depression and anxiety instead of just be depressed and anxious. It’s 2020., and I’m going separate ways with another close friend. This friendship was filled with a lot of love, but so, so many lies and misunderstandings in between. My trust was no longer there. These two friends meant so much to me, but based on their actions, I didn’t mean as much to them. Once again, I made the right decision. I left a friendship that was no longer healthy for me. I miss both of them sometimes, but I’ve learned to respect myself more. I didn’t deserve to be treated how I was treated and I’m happy I was finally able to see that after years of justifying their actions in order to keep them in my life. We’re now in June 2020. I’ve completed 6/10 exams of my first year in social work school. I was terrified of failing and having to deal with ‘failure’ once again but things are going well as of now. Four exams left and I’m done with the first year; absolutely amazing. I’m still in regular therapy. Therapy is by far the most amazing thing that I ever decided to do for myself. During quarantine, I had this awakening or whatever you want to call it. I suddenly started feeling like a different, more balanced, healthier, and overall better version of myself. I truly don’t know what happened but I started noticing how much I’ve grown and learned. I react to things / see things differently now. I don’t binge eat anymore, which I had been doing since 2013. This truly feels like a miracle because my relationship with food is really good now. I’m not at war with the things from the past anymore. I’m not bitter or mad at all. I’m pretty sure I’ve made the most out of everything that ever hurt me. I still suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, I’m always afraid of things going wrong but I’m working on that every single day. I definitely handle things better now. When a new wave of depression comes, instead of being more depressed because I’m feeling depressed, I just acknowledge that I’m depressed again and I let it in being fully aware that it will pass. I breathe through it so that it’s a tiny bit easier. I’m giving myself space to take a step back and just breathe. My communication with myself has drastically improved. I say no more often and do what I feel like doing. I think I’m not a people pleaser anymore. I have a bunch of things to work on (comparing/criticizing/belittling myself) but I think I’m doing better than I did in the last seven years of my life and that’s a very big deal. These past seven years have been difficult and challenging, full of ups and downs. I finally see that I’ve been doing a good job all along. Today, I decided to root for myself. I deserve it. And you deserve it too.
What happened in the past can’t be changed. Some questions remain unanswered. The person that you are today is the best answer to every question you may have.