What do you do if nothing makes sense anymore? Everyone seems to have opinions and expectations on what your life should be and how you should feel, but they are not your own. What if you forgot what made you happy and so everything just makes you a little more miserable every day?
What would help you? I’ve been asked that question so many times in the past two years. Doctors asked it, therapists, my family, some of my friends, even my former boss – and I never had an answer. I still don’t have it. Mainly because I feel like I forgot what “being content“ actually feels like. These days I’m either bored, sad, tired or terrified, and occasionally, very rarely, I feel almost not bored/sad/tired/terrified. I don’t think that is what “content” feels like though. And along with losing the feeling of “content” I also forgot what my goals actually were. They kind of got lost in the expectations everyone seems to have for me.
Change who you used to be
I remember that I wanted to be a writer once. But in order to be a writer, you need to actually write – and publish something. All I do is occasionally write texts for a blog nobody really reads (if you are reading this, thank you). It’s better than nothing I guess, but it’s not enough to make a living. So after having a bit of a meltdown two years ago, I changed a few things. I quit my old job, I moved away, and because I still needed money to make a living, I started a new job. One that seemed fine, even though it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. Now, not even a year later, I’m at the same point I was in 2018: Unable to work, unable to probably function and unable to pretend.
So – what do you do if nothing makes sense anymore? If pretending becomes unbearable? If all you have is dreams you never pursued? If you forgot what being content feels like? I remember that I used to be strong willed, a long time ago I was even brave. And then the adults came and told me to keep my feelings to myself, to be practical, to be sensible, to be…someone else.
My family is made of “doers” and “solvers”. Which means that in this family we do not dwell on problems we focus on solutions. We do not complain, we just carry on as long as possible. We do not argue, instead we drown any conflict in silence as long as possible. One of the sentences I heard most growing up was: “Stop being hysterical.” Because in a family that focuses on actions, feelings are a nuisance. Feelings are uncontrollable and therefor need to be suppressed. Enter me, a highly emotional human being from day one. I just didn’t fit.
That’s also one of the most profound memories I have about my childhood. That I did not fit. I was too loud, too big, too strange, hyperactive, and just basically too emotional. I wanted to argue, I wanted to draw, I wanted to make-up stories and I wanted to be seen, heard and felt. Unfortunately, I was in the wrong family for that. Unfortunately for them, I came into this world stubborn, and so I spent a lot of time fighting, voicing my feelings, and telling made-up stories. But the world is not kind to those who are different. If you are lucky, you are born into a like-minded environment. If not, you end up being told you are wrong so many times that you actually start to believe you are indeed wrong.
Again – I’m not saying my family made me the way I am. But there is no denying that I emerged from my childhood with the feeling that I did not fit. Maybe if I had been a little different it would have affected me differently, who knows? A doctor once told me that it’s always just a bit of a chance really. There are people who grow up in way worse situations than I did, and they don’t struggle with mental health problems. And despite what I wrote in that last paragraph, I do believe that all things considered I did have a happy childhood. But there is no denying that it left scars on my soul and those scars never fully healed.
Trying to find meaning
Now, after spending time in a hospital, group therapy, several single therapies, changing my job (several times actually) and moving around quite a lot, I’ve reached a point where I don’t know what to do. And unfortunately for me, right now is also not a very good time to be depressed and anxious, because due to this pandemic, I can’t just go to a hospital. Not unless I’m suicidal, which I’m not. It’s actually a fun side-effect of having an anxiety disorder: You are so scared of dying that it effectively prevents you from self-harm. In fact, I get a panic attack just thinking I could think of suicide.
The thing that everybody agrees on with depression or anxiety, is that you need to change the way you view the world around you. The way you evaluate your feelings. Because while feelings never lie – when you are afraid, you are afraid – what’s causing them might very well be a lie. Reading about cancer symptoms does not mean I will get those symptoms soon and die. So, while my fear of immediate death is real, there actually is no real threat. But that brings me back to my first question: What do you do if nothing makes sense? How do you find meaning in a life that feels wasted and wrong? I will keep searching.