Rooting for myself (a challenge to make me appreciate myself more)

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. 

Albesa ♡

A much-needed reality check, brain check and what not check

Friday / February 7, 2020

I consider myself an optimist, who always tries to learn from difficult situations. I’ve been stuck in this negative circle for quite some time now, complaining about my life every single day, so I started questioning where my optimism has gone. I wrote in my last story that I hardly saw any light. This circle that I’m talking about has exhausted me. I needed a reality check so I started paying more attention to my time and energy and here’s what I’ve realized. Constantly thinking and complaining about everything that makes you unhappy and miserable will make you feel even worse. Sit down, acknowledge your thoughts, emotions, and patterns. Express your pain in a way you’re most comfortable with. Talk to your friends, write about it, draw, sing, go for a walk, you do you. Breathe, feel your lungs, move your fingers, your legs, your hair, break the cycle of negative thinking with physical activity. I’m the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about what makes me unhappy. You know why? Because I choose to do everything that makes me unhappy. We all choose to do that. I’m not attacking anyone, I know that some of us have literally learned to live life that way. It has become my default mode, from the moment I wake up till the moment I go to bed. I unconsciously choose to let my mind do what it’s been doing for years now. Be cruel to me, be mean to me, make me imagine the worst scenarios. Make me imagine myself failing, being lied to and so on. Thoughts create feelings and feelings determine your mood. So I sat  down and asked myself; what is going on with me lately, why do I feel down all the time? Why do I feel like disappearing? I analyzed my daily habits which I hadn’t done in a long time and boom, I got my answers! My top unhealthy habit is overthinking. So I started paying attention to it. My life is a bit complicated (I just realized that I genuinely think there’s no person who’s life isn’t complicated) for multiple reasons, and I struggle with a lot of things, but it’s good to have a conversation with yourself and literally cut your own bullsh*t. It’s necessary to remind yourself that your thoughts are not your reality. Say it out loud. Just because I fear failure it doesn’t mean I’m really gonna fail. Just because I think people think I’m lame, it doesn’t mean they really think I’m lame. People who have had or still have mental health issues or childhood traumas tend to have very low self-esteem. I’m one of those people. I like doing a lot of things, but I never think I’m really good at it. My cousin Flor thinks I’m really smart and I’m always like ‘why would you think that?’ It’s because I think my depression took away a lot of my abilities. For example, I always have to double-check if I turned off the oven. I always have to double read the message someone sent to me in order to make sure I understood it correctly. When people are rude to me, I always make it about myself and convince myself it’s me who misunderstood the situation. But let me tell you something: NO! Your depression is not the answer to everything in your life. Your depression is not your number one enemy in life. Some people are rude to you and you’re not making it up in your head. Rude people exist, and I really have to stop justifying people’s behavior and making it about myself every time. Sometimes it’s just not about us man! My dear people, whoever is going to read this, both you and I, despite depression, anxiety, panic attacks, we’re still capable of all the things we want to achieve. It might take you longer but why would we have to go fast anyway? We wouldn’t we choose our rhythm ourselves? My fear of failure is out of this world. I failed at a couple things because I did things following other people’s timing and not my own. I thought that I had to be in alignment with people who were my age. But I don’t have to. My experience is very different from a lot of other people. So while thinking about my past experiences and why things didn’t work for me, I decided to start taking into consideration my circumstances too, not only the end result. I know why some things didn’t work and that’s exactly why I’ve decided to slow down completely. I’m allowed to go slow and take my time. I’m allowed to do things my way and not the way ‘it’s supposed to be done’. Please don’t let other people’s success pressure you to be successful too. Your time will come but get some rest first. If you’re someone who suffers from a mental illness, let me remind you that managing to get out of bed is also a success. Get some rest, get some help, learn, grow and then start slow. That’s what I’m trying to do. I went back to education and university after two years. I avoided studying for a couple of months because I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to learn anything (I dropped out of college two and a half years ago because I was unable to study due to my depression). I was terrified of not being able to study again but I pushed myself to try. I started studying for my English exam about three days ago. I figured out English was the easiest to start with. I’m more than happy to say that it’s going well (for now). The fear of failure is still there but it has calmed down a bit. I don’t have very high expectations, I just want to pass. If I pass this exam, it will help me believe in myself and my abilities more which will help me with my future exams that are possibly going to be harder. Remember that everyone’s journey is different. Someone who is just starting to learn a new language doesn’t immediately become fluent. Don’t try to eliminate your fear, just let it be there. Do what you want to do with your fears sitting next to you. Nothing is going to happen, if you don’t succeed the first time, you can always try again. I started studying law, it didn’t work because I didn’t understand a lot of terms that are in the book. Not to mention that subject bores me to death. Then I started with sociology, but the number of pages I had to learn felt overwhelming considering the fact that I had about 10 days to prepare for it. Then I moved to psychology but the same thing happened. As I said, I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to study which is why I was afraid to even try so that’s how I lost a lot of time. I tried studying three times and it didn’t work. I kept trying out until something felt a little better. And now I see that I’m actually not disabled. I just have to go slow and take my time which is perfectly fine. My brain still works just fine. Fingers crossed we all learn to listen to ourselves and our needs. Fingers crossed we all dare to do things our own way. Sending lots of positive energy to whoever reads this, including me. 

PS: good luck to everyone taking exams! 🙂

♡ Albesa