A few weeks ago, I posted a pretty dramatic tale of a very serious episode of depression and burnout that I was experiencing. It seemed to have come from nowhere and felt completely unwarranted. I had just achieved the biggest dream of my career (being able to work as a full-time artist), while simultaneously feeling the lowest I had ever felt. Well, I decided to come back and let you know that there is another side to it- a much lighter side.
It seems like I was knocked out of this feeling almost as quickly as I had been knocked into it. I'm going to be completely candid with you about what it took to shake off this feeling:
I got really, really mad.
Now, let me preface this by saying that I don't get mad often. In fact, I hate being mad. Being mad makes me mad because I can't stand the thought of not seeing the absolute best in everyone (apparently I think I'm a saint). Even when I'm in a situation that warrants being mad, I usually cry for awhile to calm myself down, and then feel guilty for being upset at whoever I was mad at.
But this time, someone was very rude to me and expected me to go completely out of my way to please them. At first, I was anxious. I'm the type of person that never wants to leave a situation unfinished or unsatisfied. I let this situation make me feel even worse. I had been feeling so awful for so long, and now I was letting someone make me feel like I had failed them.
That's when I could feel the anger begin to bubble up. And as much as I hate feeling mad, it was a hell of a lot better than feeling nothing at all. While I justified my own feelings of anger, I noticed that I was thinking thoughts I hadn't thought in a long time:
"I don't deserve to be treated like this!"
"They can't tell me what to do!"
"My sanity is worth more than this!"
"I don't have time to deal with this!"
It hit me then, loud and clear. I had been treating myself the same way that this person had just treated me. I had been convincing myself for weeks that I was worthless and not deserving of happiness, but I couldn't recognize it until someone else had done the exact same thing. Why was it unacceptable for someone else to treat me this way, but completely okay when I said the same things about myself? As I started to get mad about this situation, I could feel my power coming back, my energy coming back. I had too much adrenaline to mope on the couch about this.
I made the choice to stand up for myself, which is honestly something I rarely do. But as I started to feel the excitement of my own power, I could feel myself moving up the emotional scale. I went from depression, to anger, to energized, to powerful, and finally, to confident.
I made a hard choice to defend myself, fiercely protecting my work and my values like a mama cub. When the conversation was over, I knew I had done the right thing. Hell, I had done more than the right thing. I took control of my self-confidence and it gave me my power back. Once I felt protective of my work, I realized how valuable it was. Suddenly, I could feel the excitement that I had lost slowly seeping in, and I felt the passion coming back bit by bit.
It took a few more days after that to finally feel like myself again but I'm back. I am so grateful to have had that situation as a mirrored reflection of my own mind- if I don't want a person like that in my own reality, than I definitely don't want that person living in my head.
I hope it doesn't take a nasty encounter to shake you out of this hole. But if it does, just know that feeling anything else is so much better than feeling despair. And once you begin to climb out, step-by-step, there's a stronger version of yourself waiting for you on the other side. You'll become a better person, a better artist, and a better friend to yourself because of it.