“When you inhale, breathe in the words, the universe is. On the exhale, breathe out, as it should be.”
I’m sitting in my dialectic behavioral therapy meeting on a Tuesday night. We’re practicing mindfulness and I hear the voice of one of the leaders speaking. My eyes are shut and my hands are laced on my lap. My feet are restless and I can’t seem to sit still. I can’t help but think that this is so dumb, I’m too spacey for this, the universe isn’t a being.. I even peeked to see if everybody else was taking this seriously. They were. I was a kid at the Thanksgiving meal waiting for the prayer to be over so I could dig in but the prayer was lasting forever and I was starving. I sighed, leaned back in my chair and decided to give it a shot.
I inhaled deeply, the universe is, and I exhaled, as it should be. Then the anger kicks in.
“Oh hello there, old friend.”
Is the universe as it should be? Really? You were kicked out of school because you attempted suicide when you were a drunk mess, you’ve lost any structure you’ve ever had, your friends are gone, your job went up in the air and now you’re at home. Your goals and dreams went out the window and guess what? You can’t accomplish them now. You’re a loser.
The familiar fire started to burn but the more I inhaled and exhaled those words, the more the thoughts began to change.
What are my goals anyway? To be a voice in the mental health community and to bring change to the world.
Isn’t that what I was doing? Well, I was in school getting my degree so that I could do something. But was anything actually being accomplished? I had a moment of profound silence in my mind. I was on the dance team, a part of a great research team, had a job as a nanny I loved and pursuing my degree in psychology and sociology so that I could continue on maybe to graduate school. It’s not that I didn’t love it all because I did truly love every activity I was doing. That was the problem though, it was because I loved it all that I didn’t see how off track I was. My obstacle stopping me from accomplishing my over all goal of being a voice and bringing change was life. It wasn’t a time thing, a lack of effort thing, I truly thought I was on the right track but I wasn’t. The universe took my life away from me. School, dance, research, my job, friends… everything. I fought against this every step of the way, to do anything to hold onto this life but I lost. I was so consumed with anger but the more I inhaled and exhaled those words, the heavier they became with truth.
The universe is as it should be.
Alright, what does that look like now?
Well, I was offered multiple jobs as a sales person, babysitter and dance teacher. I decided to keep nannying for the same family and tutor friends of mine back here. I applied to four universities and am going to take an online course next quarter at one of them. The class is Disabilities in Society and is relevant to what I want to do. So far, so good. I have begun cooking for myself which means I am buying all of my own food now. Tonight, I made whole grain pasta with kale, spinach, carrots, parsley, bell peppers and salmon. It wasn’t hard and actually tasted good. I discovered that I can cook and eating healthy feels a lot better than ordering a pizza. I have also begun working out at home. Sure, it’s cheesy YouTube videos but it’s something. I’m exercising and working towards a body I’m proud of. This is still good. I’ve gone sober. I also had to sit down and write down a list of people I wanted to keep in touch with for a lifetime. My friends back at school were mostly out of convenience and now that I was away from convenience, I had to decide who to put effort into and who I want to put effort into me. I have more time to participate in things like the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) walk which promotes awareness for mental illnesses and is a fundraiser as well. I have more time to blog and am even starting up a new video project (more to come on that later!). What I’m trying to say is this: My life was taken from me and I had to rebuild but this time, I was in charge of what blocks went where.
It’s a strange way to learn a lesson and I don’t recommend it; but it gets the job done and I find myself waking up with excitement for the day and tackling each small project I have planned. I was told I took on way too many tasks but I needed to. I am a creature of habit and I absolutely hate change in routine. Maybe that’s why I got so stuck in my previous ways. I thought I was going places but I was running on a treadmill, tricked with one of those TVs playing a nature scene. If I was going to change now, everything would need to change before I got stuck again. Now that I’ve hopped off, well actually shoved is more appropriate, I can start running a new trail that’s outside with an unknown destination. When you begin running like that, you have to buy new clothes, new shoes, get a good water bottle, pump up music and change the way you stretch. Running outside is different than running on a treadmill and you have to be prepared. It doesn’t make sense to only get new shoes and expect that you’ll be okay in a completely new environment. So here I am, making awful running analogies, checking things off of my to do list that I actually want to do, eating better, exercising regularly, writing more and working towards my goal. By taking away my life, I’ve learned what my purpose is and have time to live it out.
It’s always the hardest to start something like running. It doesn’t feel good at all and takes time to build your body up to it. For me, starting wasn’t as hard as I thought. I don’t think I ever stopped running, I was simply picked up and my direction was changed. It was the being picked up part that really threw me. Now that my feet are back on the ground, I can keep going.
I was angry at first, very angry, and ready to burn my old school down to the ground. Now, that school is disappearing behind me as I run ahead towards a new school, new routines, new everything. Don’t get me wrong, the depression and anxiety didn’t magically disappear; in fact, I’m having an anxiety attack right now because I felt insecure and ugly. It might never go away, but now I know what I’m doing to help not just me but everyone else who suffers like me. I don’t know where I’m going to end up but at least now, I’m going somewhere.
“…and open your eyes when you’re ready.” The leader’s voice trailed back into focus. “Would anyone like to share what they thought while breathing?”
The light was too bright as I blinked several times. I unlaced my fingers, sat straight and smiled.
“Yes, actually, I’d like to share. The universe is as it should be,” I heard myself say, “and for once, we’re on the same page.”