Thursday, August 1, 2019

Reflections on friendship, growth, and depression.

This is going to be a much more personal post somewhat self-reflecting on some things I have experienced in recent years. I have had this draft written up for the past several months up just to help me formulate my thoughts and rationalize through my feelings. I found a few entries I wrote in a private blog I have kept. 
"How is it that at such a young age
we can be so unhappy with ourselves?"
- December 2013

"It’s so natural to me
To detach myself from everyone in due time
I will always push those around me away
Silence is my comfort."
- August 2014

I was always told that it was a "phase" of my life and that I needed to just push through it. But in due time I realized that the depression and anxiety was affecting my own life as well as those around me. I was spiraling down a dark path where I felt that my existence was not meant to be. I was not able to manage friendships and was constantly "people pleasing" to the point of where enough was enough and I easily shut people out of my life. It was easy for me. I enjoyed being alone. I never felt lonely except for when I had those thoughts. There was no one to speak to because there was no way of putting my feelings into words. I always struggled with finding that balance between friendships and room for my own self-growth.

Moving forward, I came to realize that we should not ever feel bad about putting our own goals and ambitions before others no matter how close. I know it is easier said than done but in recent years I came across this situation over and over again. My heart was torn between being a "good friend" and being able to reach my own goals. Recently, I sacrificed a piece of my friendship in order to focus on myself. I was not in a healthy place mentally and I was at the home stretch of closing a chapter of my academics. Long story short, I made it but at the expense of friendship. I got through my obstacles and made it to where I wanted in my academics and career but lost a piece of my friendships.

As you grow older and begin to settle down with your daily routines the phrase “I can’t because I have school or work commitments”. Many people assume that is simply an excuse to not put them first or make an effort. However, 2018-2019 was one of the hardest years of my life. I was juggling work, school, research collaborations, mental health issues, relationship, social and familial changes and on top of waitressing on the weekends. Why do I feel the need to justify my actions? Why do I feel as though every "excuse" required an explanation? I take so much longer to absorbs information than the average person. I need to read things twice the amount of times to remember and digest new information. I need to spend more time than my classmates reading articles and journals for my literature reviews. “I have work commitments in the morning I can’t go out” I know my limits when it comes to having a night out. I know I cannot be 100% if I stay out late. I need to teach myself things so that I am able to perform my job to the best of my ability. I need to prepare for presentations, meetings, seminars and so much more. I have generalized anxiety disorder so I mentally prepare so much in order to succeed and be confident.

“But you’re always making time for other people and you update your Instagram a lot!” Social media has evolved so much in a way that has become a way to present ourselves in a certain light that may not be an accurate representation of our real lives. I am at fault for doing so. I choose to post and present only details that I want to share. Why would I want to post and share all of the hundreds of times I have experienced darkness? unwanted thoughts? struggles of my life? I opt out of doing that. As for social commitments, I make time for those who make time for me. Friendship needs to be a two-way street. Many just assume I have so many friends because of the way I present myself but in all truth, I have a very small few of friends I consider family and will do whatever it takes to make time for them. This is not because I favor them for no reason but because they have also demonstrated effort in our friendship. Friendships need to be fair and double-sided. You cannot expect love and support without being able to give it in return. 

I am not entirely sure as to where I am trying to go at this. I am not writing this about anyone in particular. This was a collection of my thoughts, experiences, and rationalizations throughout my recent years. I have come to realize so much more when I was able to open my mind to others' perspectives. We all see and process things so much differently and if we cannot be open to other's thoughts and feelings then how can we truly grow? Growth, however, for me is occasionally delayed due to the depression I live with and the anxiety I experience regularly. I am managing and seeking help but it continues to feel like a heavy and burdensome journey at many different points. But nothing in life is meant to be easy and just because something is difficult does not mean that it is not worth it.

Growth is not only something we can work on superficially but internally as well. The pain I have felt growing up from my depression has taught me a valuable lesson in that I must learn to truly grow with it. I will not allow a diagnosis to define me. I must learn to live with it to the best of my ability. 
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