There is a thin line between being a victim, and creating an entire identity centered around victimhood. In one case, you have been harmed or traumatized as a result of a particular event, and in the other case- you’ve allowed this event to become your story and who you are. Post-traumatic stress is complex and easily distorts and disrupts your sense of self/being. In this writing, I hope that what I am saying won’t be received as insensitive or unsympathetic- but as a means to ascend from an unhealthy and detrimental state of being. Through my own testament of healing from trauma and a victimhood mentality, it is my intention that this will not only pacify your wounds but heal them.
You are not what happened to you.
We have all experienced something that changed our lives entirely. Whether it be a singular event, a relationship, or even something said to us. This moment changed our lives, and changed what we thought we knew. I had experienced a collection of events that could be described as ‘traumatic’. I didn’t know that these experiences were a source of my pain- I just knew that I felt hopeless.This event for me was the day that I tried to take my own life.
I know that you probably assumed that something ‘happened’ to me, or that someone did something to me , but I happened to me. I happened to me all of the time. I inflicted pain on myself physically and emotionally as a coping mechanism to depression.
How I Fell Into Victim-Hood
I felt strongly for a long time that my life was nothing but misfortune and inevitable struggle. I was always sink hole deep in depression, or bridging my way back to it from a manic episode. I internalized the diagnosis given to me by the doctor . I allowed Major Depression Disorder to define who I was. I researched the symptoms, and I seen what the doctor seen; There was an undeniable parallel between me, and the illness. I sought out others who were suffering from the illness too. Through the use of social media, I bonded with other people who were suffering from MDD, just like me. I didn’t just have Major Depression Disorder, Major Depression Disorder had me. It had me all of the time. It had me in the music I would listen to, the art that I would make and the poetry that I would write. Everything that I was, was drenched in this illness. I loathed in my thoughts, and took on the identity of someone who was sad all of the time. I made every excuse to never go anywhere. I was always “too tired” and a self-proclaimed “homebody”. There were days that were not as bad as others, but I always told myself to not be excited about it, because the pain would always return, and I would be left disappointed. I never allowed light to come into my life. I was comfortable with darkness, and I was consumed by it. I didn’t know who I was outside of depression. I didn’t know who I was outside of the trauma, and to me, that was terrifying.
I have learned from this that, the human mind can be your greatest friend or your worst enemy. I was my worst enemy.
How I Came Out of That
What I didn’t know was that, yes I had this illness, but I didn’t have to let it have me. I spent years of my life believing that I would never be able to recover, or have the freedom to feel something new. I can’t recall the specific day when I made the decision to try to be happy, but I remember praying about it, a lot. I would usually pray in my bed with eyes closed, but I remember intently kneeling down at my bed side and praying. I was dedicated to my healing. I allowed myself to be vulnerable by allowing people in. I stopped putting up walls when I realized that I was going to lose the people I loved. I surrendered to my pain, and allowed it to cleanse me, instead of thinking I could defeat it. I allowed it to break me, and mold me, and transform me into a stronger and wiser me.
How do you expect to understand your pain, if you never let it speak?
My sister was a key component to my healing. Having someone who cares about you, and is patient with you, and understands what you’re going through, is important. She encouraged me to go out, and sometimes really had to force me out of the house, and that was a major part of my healing. I really needed to get out, and she made sure I did. My sister allowed me to experience my emotions, and what I mean by this is, if I was crying she would rub my back, she never told me to “stop crying”. I think it’s important to have a support system of people that don’t ask for you to perform happiness for their comfort. My mother and grandmother put me into art classes, something that I loved doing; This really boosted my self-esteem, and gave me a sense of purpose. I also researched on my own *healthy coping mechanisms*. I used lavender to calm me. I took long baths. I exercised. I did everything I could do to be a positive thinking person. That doesn’t mean that by doing those things it eliminated my depression, but it made it easier to go through. I also created habits that would ensure that I would never let the emotional pain overstay.
You can either be reactive or proactive. You can have comfort or you can have growth– but you can’t have both.
If the voice inside of your head is always talking negatively, if it is always telling you that you are not enough, that you won’t make it, that you are not worthy. Know this. Know that you are in control of that voice. You have the power to change what that voice says, and you have the power to change what you believe about yourself.
How you speak to yourself is important, and one way to check yourself is by saying to yourself, “would I speak to my best friend like this?”. Let your best friend be you.
Small Things To Do For Clarity and Resetting
- Delete all your text messages (it just feels good)
- Delete negative people from social networks (follow people that are a reflection of your best you)
- De-clutter your space (throw things out, reorganize, change your room around)
- Un-follow people on social media that make you feel less-than perfect (I unfollowed a lot of IG models because I kept comparing myself to them when their job is to look ‘perfect’)
- Write down who the best version of you is, and put it somewhere where you will see it everyday- for when you wake up, and when you go to sleep.
- Work out! I’ve found that working out helps clear my mind.
- Read a book/ Watch a Movie- (live in different reality for a bit)
- Distract yourself- sometimes when all you can think about are the problems in your life, and how you can solve them and what you’re going to do, it gets very overwhelming. Take a time out, and watch Netflix all day, until you’ve got enough energy to try again tomorrow.
Expect sadness like you expect rain. Both cleanse you.
—natural. Nayyirah Waheed
Maintaining Emotional Stability Despite Depression & Anxiety
- I use an app called “7 Cups” when I’m at my lowest point, and I don’t really want to talk to anyone, but I know that I need to. On this app you can talk to trained volunteers anonymously about what ever is going on. They offer advice, coping skills, and just a listening ear. I find this extremely helpful when I don’t want to burden friends/family with what I’m going through, and when I don’t necessarily want to talk about it with them.
- I learned that staying far far away from alcohol during emotional instability is really really important.
- I keep a positive mind. During times of anger, disappointment, grief etc., I ask myself “are you willing to look at this differently?”. This has had a tremendous impact on how I treat my anxiety, how I handle emotional situations, and how I connect with people.
- I think it’s important to be opened to seeing a psychiatrist/therapist.
One thing I always keep in mind when I feel like ” OMG, it’s been one thing after another”, is that “God is using me”. I have always felt that way since I was younger, a perspective given to me by my mother. She would always say that God is using me, and I see that now in my adult life. Your pain will be useful. God is preparing you. He is strengthening you. I can look back clearly and understand why things had to happen. Whatever it is that you’re going through, know that you’re going to come out of it stronger, smarter, and a better version of you