Note: If you struggle with Depression or OCD, this post may be triggering.
It’s 2019. This was the year I was supposed to graduate from veterinary school. This was supposed to be my year, my big year.
But it feels far from it. Instead of getting ready to make all of my dreams and hard work come true, I am a 25 year old sitting alone at home, afraid to move. Paralyzed by the weight on my chest that loss, anxiety, depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder have placed there.
My boyfriend left for vacation the day after Christmas. And instead of enjoying our last few hours together in those dwindling days of holiday magic before Christmas is truly over, we spent the day hunkering down, preparing for battle, stocking up my bunker. Yet the only battle that was coming my way was the one in my mind. The one that had me questioning whether I was going to survive the next week on my own.
The day he left I stood and watched my boyfriend prepare a stockpile of food, dishes, soap, toothpaste, everything I could need; planning paths to make sure I could get to the kitchen, the bathroom, the bed. He even measured out the cats’ meals into baggies in case while he was gone it got to the point that I couldn’t even manage that. And as I watched this, a sort of numbness washed over me. How has this become our normal?
It’s been a few days since he left, and I’m doing alright, actually better than I could have imagined. But still, I stand in my fully stocked kitchen in my brand new beautiful house that has everything I could possibly need… and all I see is a battlefield.
Yesterday I looked in the mirror, and what I saw absolutely terrified me, so much so that I began to panic. No matter how hard I tried, I could not see someone that I recognized. I tried to smile, and I don’t think I can describe the feeling of complete emptiness mixed with shock that ran through my body. That was not my smile, the one I’ve seen in pictures. I tried again and again, each time a little differently, each one feeling so wrong on my face. And as each one looked less and less familiar I began to frantically try to find some expression that I could recognize. But I couldn’t. They all just looked like masks. And I broke down. Because your smile is supposed to be muscle memory. But I forgot mine.
I walked out of the bathroom and looked at my bunker in the middle of my battlefield and I decided that I’m going to be brave, and I’m going to fight my way out of this. I think that terrifying moment of realization in the mirror was what I needed. Because I don’t want my partner to have to prepare me for battle whenever he leaves. And I don’t want my family to be terrified knowing I’m alone, afraid that their phone will ring because I couldn’t do it. I don’t want to spend my days in a bunker, hiding from life.
So it’s 2019, and sure, I was supposed to be getting a DVM at the end of my name, that was the dream, that was the plan. That’s not how it went. But I’m starting to think that that’s okay. Because I think it dawned on me today that for the first time in about a year, I am ready to fight again. I’m terrified, but I think I’m ready.
It’s 2019. And I’m ready to breathe again; breathe without feeling like my chest is struggling against some invisible weight, never able to draw in enough air.
It’s 2019. And I’m ready to find my smile again. To actually feel it on my whole face, through my whole body.
It’s 2019. And I’m ready to be a partner. To be a sister. A friend. A cousin. I am ready to exist.
It’s 2019. This was supposed to be my year. So I am going to make it my year.