A Year In Perspective

His face was warm and inviting. Something about his salt and pepper facial hair and bear-like smile made me feel I could trust him, and that I could say it all without the fear of being ignored or judged or just hurting my own pride.

He kept hearing, nodding his head and writing on his notepad. I did not know what to make of it. My words would just disappear in the vortex of his kind face, and I kept going on and on until I could say no more.

“Reema, you are clinically depressed. You need help.” is what he said to me. I stared at him with blank eyes. I did not know what that meant. I did not know what it had to do with my future. Something about his tone suggested it’s not a big deal, and I believed him. All I wanted was to believe in something, and I did. I believed in a lot of things, and my life changed forever.

This day last year, I found myself emotionally distraught, sick and alone. When I look back at that day, my heart sinks and I reflect back on all the things that have changed since then.

I could go on and on about it, but at the end of the day one important thing I have learned in my road to a healthier, brighter life is that the only thing that kills people is fear. Fear of being looked down upon by people who matter to you, fear of disappointing your loved ones, fear of failure and fear of appearing weak.

It’s been a rough road and a very painful one. Many people have came and gone through my life. Some were a huge roadblock in my recovery and others literally held my hand through it. I learned to appreciate people for who they are, what they have to offer and what qualities they harbor instead of waiting around for them to come to terms with my expectations.

I learned how to not waste time waiting for things to change, for people to become better or for scars to heal. I learned that waiting is dreadful, and it keeps you from living. I learned that a quick acknowledgement is what is needed in most situations. A sense of acceptance, that okay, this is probably not the way I like it, but Oh well, it is what it is, and now I need to move on. I learned to tell myself – Reema, this person is your friend, and this is what he/she puts on the table with their presence. You can acknowledge that about him/her and let their good things brush off on to your life, or you can keep being the idealist you are and force them to fit in to a role that does not suit them.

A year later, I can’t come to complain about anything the least bit. I spend my time with people who make me happy, are good friends to me and who I feel comfortable around. My performance in school is great, and I have become comfortable with who I am as a person. I am more honest, I am direct and I know what I want in my life.

This past year has been the most painful, difficult and transforming time of my life. I still think about the person I was when I sat outside the university hospital sobbing silently and helplessly because I did not know how to deal with the bomb that was dropped on me. With nowhere to turn, nobody to talk to, and a pile of challenges ahead of me, I took charge of my life when I hit rock bottom, and I am so grateful that I did.

A year later today, I have been clear of meds for six months now. I had lived for years in immense pressure and absolute silence. Two years of secrets later, I snapped like a filament that couldn’t bear any more current in it. Not a single part of me ever regrets the moment of truth in which I sought help for myself out of my free will. This day changed my life forever, and oddly enough, I have nobody but myself to thank. All my life I lived in the belief that it is the people around you who make you strong; that things like love, friendships and emotions make you a better person, and now I know better.

True strength comes from within. It is not inspired by people, or feelings, or situations. Strength is when you stop searching for life and purpose in others, and start looking within. It is when you question yourself, and deduce in all honesty what you really want in life. Strength is not the gesture of being in love, having best friends and letting others lives become yours. Strength is to know what YOU want, and the act of pursuing it with relentless passion. It is to choose the people in your life out of love, and respect, not loneliness or helplessness. It is to be a good friend, and to have your lines drawn out clearly in the sand. It is to respect yourself first, to cut your miseries short and overindulge in things/people who put a smile on your face. Strength is to be honest to yourself, and once you are… everything else seems downright ridiculous.

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