I listened to the latest episode from the “This is actually happening” podcast. The episode is titled “What if you had three different faces?”. It features Grace Hartman telling how symptoms that seemed like the flu spiraled into an illness that completely upended her entire life.
I do not listen to every podcast episode as some can be dark. However, the title of this one intrigued me, and so I started listening.
And am I glad I did! The progression of the disease already sounded familiar to me. You could rewrite the sentence from the first paragraph to something like, “A story of how one drink turned into a downward spiral that completely upended my life.” And that would be an accurate description of the progression of alcoholism.
As I listened to Grace tell her story, I could relate more and more. I could also draw a line between her story, anxiety disorder, and depression. It especially hit home when she said the following:
“I’d seen how much this experience had taken from me. I didn’t want it to consume me any further. You know, it has taken months of my life. It had taken my face and taken a lot of my innocence. I had looked at my other friends, and they seemed like they could go about living their life and not have horrible things consume their every other thought.”
For those suffering from anxiety, I am sure you can relate. Those constant fears, those stories constantly playing in your head. Stories and fears that suck the joy out of life force you to retract into yourself. Fears that make you say no when you want to say yes. Forced into what often feels like a fight with yourself.
The following from the podcast made me turn cold and realize a truth I probably always knew.
“I did not talk to myself very nicely… It was very damaging mentally because I felt like I was just constantly fighting. It was like a constant battle against myself.
It is my body attacking my own body. It’s weird because your body’s the enemy. And it’s hard to want yourself to get better, treat yourself kindly, and take care of yourself when it is your own self doing that to you. And also that the only way to get better is to harm yourself is to beat it down with all these bad drugs. But I had to just constantly fight myself, and I think that was very unhealthy for my mind.”
Since my mid to late teens, I have been locked in a battle with myself. A war with my mind. A voice telling me that I am not good enough and never will be. Some life experiences added insult to injury, but the real fight was within me. And as Grace said, “it’s hard to want yourself to get better, treat yourself kindly, and take care of yourself when it is your own self doing that to you.”
The drug I used to beat it all down, and yes, to harm myself with, was alcohol. Wow, that was hard to admit and write down. It is true, though, so not acknowledging it would be not to recognize my truth. I am therefore embracing this revelation about one of the reasons I free fell down the rabbit hole.
Revelations like this also demonstrate why it is so important that we all share our stories. Speak our truth. Through this, we free ourselves and help those around us free themselves. I am eternally grateful to Grace Hartman for sharing her story as I am for everyone here on Medium sharing theirs.
Please continue to do so because, as the saying goes, “The life you save just might be your own.”
In closing, I want to share one more story. This time that of Candace Parker.
There are many lessons to take from her talk. But, for me, the one I take away is that just because you were an addict, or have mental health challenges, does not mean you have to put yourself into a box. It does not place constraints on the possibilities for your future. It is merely a life lesson that came across your path. You get to decide what you will do with the lessons learned.