Rock bottom. I’ve visited you a few times and every time the view changes. Sometimes I hit you hard and fast, with a big splat that takes the breath out of me and other times I land without realizing it until I look around.
I’ve always pictured rock bottom as a dried up well.
It’s almost like something out of the movie The Ring. It feels just as scary. I look up and I can see the circle of the sun and the blue sky way up above but I just can’t get there.
Living with depression sometimes feels like I’m permanently attached to that well. I’m either trying to climb out of it, falling down it, and sometimes I get to sit on the edge, forget about it, and enjoy the sunshine, but those moments never seem to last as long as I would like.
I visit rock bottom on the regular. It’s like a yearly vacation I don’t want to take.
It usually happens twice a year, sometimes more, sometimes less, and there is something that I’ve learned from it.
It gets easier.
When you develop ways to cope with it. (Which is a lot of work, but worth it)
Rock bottom used to mean locking myself in my room for days at a time while I listened to sad music and thought about ways to end my life. Idealizing it, fantasizing about it, trying to work up the courage to just Let. It. All. Go.
I inevitably found the strength (and oh how sometimes it took everything inside of me to do it) to crawl back up to the sunshine. I learned to ask for help and I learned that I did not have to be alone with my pain. That there were helping hands if I wanted them, acknowledged them.
Then Rock Bottom meant destruction.
Self-harming. Anger. Punching walls and breaking things.
Wanting to embrace destruction, invite it in. Feel all of it. Eventually, I learned that hurting myself didn’t stop the pain. It didn’t truly give me control. I did not have to hurt myself to feel better.
And I crawled back up again.
Then Rock Bottom meant hurting people I cared about.
Lashing out because I could no longer keep it all inside of me. It was too big, too angry, and it needed an outlet. I said mean things, I pushed people away or pulled them closer in this never-ending cycle of FIX ME- WHY AREN’T YOU FIXING ME – FIX ME. I learned that no one can fix me. They can offer support, they can gently hold my hand while I do the work, they can push-push-push me in the right direction, but I’ve got to fix myself.
I crawled back up again.
Then Rock Bottom meant surrendering.
Surrendering to the tears and the hurt and the anger but not needing to do anything. Not needing to give up or give in, not needing to give
Just letting it be. Letting myself feel all of the despair that happens when I feel like my life and/or self – has been ripped apart.
Knowing that I will crawl back out again. Every. Single. Time.
Rock bottom has made me stronger.
Those Dark Nights of the Soul, where you feel alone, when you feel like everything has gone to hell all around you, when you feel completely detached from life and yet so tied down and restrained by it – it’s not all bad. Small comfort, I know.
Each time gives you the opportunity to learn what’s not working in your life and to come up with a plan to change it.
It lets you learn something new about yourself.
Shows you how strong you are.
It gives you hope that it won’t happen again but if it does, you’ll survive.
“Never be afraid to fall apart because it is an opportunity to rebuild yourself the way you wish you had been all along.” – Rae Smith
I know rock bottom sucks and it’s often terrifying but when we allow ourselves to learn something from it, it gets better.
When we cultivate coping skills – it gets better.
Keep doing your work. Keep allowing yourself to change and evolve as a person.