By Chris Heide
I am enough. I deserve better. This is something that I have had to remind myself of every morning for the past few weeks.
To say that the past few months of my life have been stressful would be a dramatic understatement. I have struggled with mental health, endured a breakup, had my car stolen, and watched my life change in drastic ways. This is in addition to the normal stresses of work, family, school and daily life. Historically, these are the kinds of stressors that I have been able to endure with a semblance of sanity and grace. However, when mental health degrades and everything difficult seems to come at once, it can be difficult to see through the pervasive darkness.
The point of the article is not to complain about my breakup and stolen car or seek victimhood for the circumstances I have endured. Rather, it is about the lessons learned when difficult moments are seized as opportunities for growth and self-actualization.
For far too long, I have had a deeply rooted desire to be accepted and loved. I have been clean and sober for quite some time now and have spent a lot of time working to understand my core beliefs. Those beliefs that I hold about myself that can affect every relationship that I have. For a long time, I worked hard to love and accept myself. To surround myself with people who love, accept and empower me.
However, when I experienced a mental health crisis this fall through the lens of clinical depression and anxiety, that ability to love myself and sustain my self-esteem became impacted. Depression and anxiety are terrible liars. They tell you that everything you do is wrong. That you are to blame for all of the imperfections in your life. Even when your life looks good on paper depression and anxiety make it impossible to live in a realm of gratitude and happiness. And this can impact everything.
When my mental health is at a low spot, I start to believe that I am not enough, and that people will leave me when they see who I really am. Imperfect. Fallible. Human. I begin to let boundaries slip away- the exact boundaries that kept me healthy in the first place. My voice loses its power, as I forget that my needs matter just as much as any other person in my life.
Thankfully, despite the external chaos that continues to bombard my life, I have been slowly able to pull myself out of that mental health black hole. In so small part, my gradual return to my old self has been accelerated through the love and support of family and friends. And as I have done so, I have had quite a few epiphanies:
I am enough.
The bravest thing I can be is vulnerable.
In order to break the patterns of my past, I must be willing to take the risk to change.
I deserve to be treated with love and respect.
I teach people how to treat me. If I don’t like how I am being treated, I need to speak up.
The second I compromise my values, morals, and boundaries is the moment I start to lose my sense of self.
If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love anyone else?
It is in the times of darkness that you learn who your true supporters are. Character is not created in times of crisis. Rather, it is revealed.
In knowing this, I chose to surround myself with a tribe of supportive individual who accept every part of me. Who lift me up when I struggle. Who empower my voice and my sense of self-worth. I must continue to remind myself that I am always enough. That I deserve the best. Without that, I will never know who I really am.
Every moment of pain is an opportunity for growth. By leaning into the pain and accepting the struggles, we can allow ourselves to transform into the people we were always meant to be. The very best versions of ourselves. It is our pain, our heart-break and our chaos, rather than our fleeting moments of success, that helps to shape who we are. We are all enough.