Getting Through Trauma

April 4, 2016 will always have a mark on my life as if it was asterisked in a hall of fame.

Although I had gotten a botched haircut, marred by a bald spot with a hurt ego to match, I was still pretty hopeful about the day. That hope would shatter to pain and regret, eventually spinning me into a depression of depths I had never felt before. An ex-lover, whom I had been with on and off for close to three years, took advantage of me and at the time took all my control and power. I felt full of shame, thinking that while I had everything in my power to stop it, I chose not to. I languished in these thoughts for close to three weeks, even as I began my therapy and started my mental health recovery.

As the summer approached, my outlook on the situation began to change. I was starting to see the flaws in the relationship and in myself. I reflected on how trying to please suitors was hurting me and in turn causing my depression and anxiety to worsen and lead me to a state of duress. As June approached, I started to focus on myself, realizing that not only is it not a selfish act, but a healthy and positive move.

I traveled out of the state for two weeks and, as my therapist called it, took a break from the world around me. During these two weeks, I tried new experiences and met all kinds of people. I cut myself off from social media and only posted vacation photos. I changed my diet to a mix of fruits and water, with minimal sugar and a generous amount of alcohol. I used my vacation to escape from my woes and find myself as a now 21-year-old. I was learning more about how I had changed in the three years during my relationship and worsening depression.

I came back in August refreshed and renewed. In a sense, I had an Eat, Pray, Love moment and I was finally back to being happy, which was also due in part to Zoloft. I left my mall job for steadier work with higher pay.

A month later, I was laid off. I was blindsided, never having thought I’d lose my job soon after leaving another. I was finding myself back in my depression, sleeping all day and skipping classes, ignoring assignments and emails, withdrawing from social activities and drinking more. I saw this behavior and chose to ignore it, thinking that it would pass. Concurrently, I also began a tryst with a new friend, whom I began to have strong feelings for. I knew he didn’t feel the same, but I was in so deep that I couldn’t help but watch myself drive into a wall. I didn’t quite understand how my life began to crumble once more with no warning signs.

January came around and I brought my feeling toward my new friend to a physical level, which strengthened my feelings and brought me into a bigger cloud of uncertainty and confusion. My frequency of drinking had reached a height of four to five days a week.

I was constantly looking for the numbing agent and social lubricant to manage the dysfunction in my life.

My new friend started to notice that my behavior had changed, turning from a positive and bubbly individual, to someone who just wasn’t present most of the time. Once we had our falling out, spurred from this change, I once again started to think introspectively. I fell into music, which had been absent in my life for quite some time. I refocused myself on school and work, now working diligently at both, and began to repair my friendships and academic relationships. And I pulled myself together and brought my life back to me, as well as withdrawing from heavy drinking.

I share all of this to say that life comes at you fast. It’s important to take time and refocus on mental health and yourself. Using substances and people for escape is not a way to begin your new self-discovery journey nor is it productive to your healing process. Trauma is painful and excruciatingly difficult but it also allows you to grow and jumpstart the process to finding who you truly are and helping yourself.

Sometimes pain can be beautiful, and that makes life worth living.

Chris Battle