“You save yourself or remain unsaved.” ~Alice Sebold, Lucky
Last year was a year of great changes for me. I ended a three-and-a-half-year long toxic relationship, I started a new relationship (which fell apart six months later), I applied for a semester abroad, and started a full-time job while studying full-time, as well.
Honestly, I don’t know how I managed to survive this busy time, but I did, and in January 2012 I left for Stockholm.
It was the best six months of my life.
I met amazing people from all over the world and I found true friends among them. I was in places I always dreamed of being. I was studying at the one of the best universities in Europe. I traveled, explored, and had fun in my life again. I made my dream come true with my hard work and tenacity.
Even though everything seemed perfect, I felt that something was missing.
I have been struggling with depression since I was thirteen. The worst period took place while I was in high school, when I thought about committing suicide. I got through this eventually with the help of my friends and a psychologist.
Currently my mood is stable, but I still experience heavy mood swings and depressive episodes that seem to appear “out of the blue.” That was the case with my semester abroad. One day I was happy with my life, and couple of days later I couldn’t find the strength to get up from the bed.
Maybe it was the stress, or the heavy Swedish winter with lack of daylight, or maybe it was something different. For two weeks in February I didn’t want to leave my room.
I tried to do so many things, to use my time abroad to its maximum so I would not have the feeling that I wasted my time there after I got back home.
Most of all, I tried to keep up a blog. Writing used to be as natural as breathing to me. But I couldn’t do it. I found it difficult to get all of my thoughts down.
My ex-boyfriend, who I haven’t been in touch with recently, didn’t like it that I wrote so much during our relationship. He always complained that he learned more about me from reading my posts than talking to me.
We were not a well-matched couple, but we stayed together for years and months, and during that time I experienced a writing block that I felt I couldn’t get past.
Every time I sat down to write something, to express my feelings in a blog post I had this wave of guilt running through me. I felt guilty that I preferred to write a blog post or a short story that would express what I felt instead of talking to my boyfriend. He’d complain about it a lot, and as a result, I just stopped writing.
Then, about one month before I left Stockholm to get back home, I met my current boyfriend. During one of our many long conversations, I mentioned how much I miss writing, and why I was struggling to write then.
He told me something very wise: “You still have it within you. It does not depend on any other people. It’s you; it’s all about you.”
It was like a ray of light. I understood it straight away: You save yourself or remain unsaved.
I blamed my ex-boyfriend for the writing block I had, and I was so focused on blaming him that I didn’t actually do anything to unblock myself! I just felt angry with myself every time I sat down to write something down.
It was the same when I had experienced depression. I was so sure that someone would come and help me. So I patiently waited and waited, and nothing happened. There was no one to save me.
There were people in my life, but I had to make the first step toward getting healthy. I had to go to a psychologist, have a talk with her, and start the treatment.
The answer for all your questions is within you.
You are the container for your problems, but you are also for the solution for them. But first, you have to want to save yourself. You have to want to move forward.
So how exactly do you save yourself?
There isn’t a simple answer—every person has different issues—but there are some simple things you can do start:
Make an effort to understand your situation. Don’t change it, and don’t lie about it. Try to see it as clearly as possible, from different points of view; orient yourself in your own environment.
Identify your problems. What is your problem? What’s keeping you stuck and upset? Why do you blame other people?
Be honest with yourself. It’s not easy but without doing this, you won’t go anywhere.
Stop blaming other people. It doesn’t help. It doesn’t change the situation. Actually, it won’t even make you feel better. It’s a great waste of your time and energy. Do you really want to spend your time on something so unproductive?
Take responsibility for your own life. Don’t wait for someone to come along and change your life completely. Even if you have the support of friends and qualified professionals, they will not be able to save or help you unless you’ll make the first step.
It sounds as if it a lonely road, but actually it’s not. If you have the good fortune to call someone a true friend, I’m sure that she or he will help you to cope with the situation.
But it is you who have to make the first step. You have to be the one who starts talking and doing something about your problem.
I know from my own experience that sometimes it can take months to find and receive external support, even from qualified people, but don’t let that discourage you from getting started.
Face your fears. Name your problems. Talk with people. Be the captain of your own life. Be honest, not only with yourself, but also with other people.
Most importantly, don’t waste your precious time feeling bad and doing nothing about it. You are the hero of your own life. Save yourself and live.
Photo by Colin Bowern