This I Believe

caroline - new orleans, Louisiana
Entered on November 6, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: setbacks

I started taking anti-depressants when I was twenty-two years old. I took them because I didn’t like the way I was feeling. I didn’t like feeling anything, period. I didn’t like feeling sad, or depressed, or anxious. I thought that if I didn’t feel at all then that was better than feeling bad. I didn’t ever want to feel pain, and so I decided to take the easy way out. Pills. Numb the pain; don’t even be there for life because then nothing can hurt you. I did anything to shield myself from feelings that were uncomfortable or unpleasant. If I knew that a situation would cause me any type of emotional pain or hurt, I avoided it completely. I was hiding from life.

Shortly after starting my new medication, my grandmother passed away. We were very close and it was very hard for me. I remember wanting to feel sad, wanting to feel the emotions that I needed to in order to deal with her death. I wanted to mourn her, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t feel anything. My heart was cold and empty. My emotions were frozen like an icy pond. Like fish swimming aimlessly beneath a solid layer of ice. My feelings were trapped below, unable to breach the hard, frozen surface.

I thought that this was what I wanted, to feel nothing. Instead, I just felt numb, and that numbness was worse than any pain. I felt like a cold, hollow shell. I was a blank canvas devoid of darkness but also of light.

They say that the opposite of love isn’t hate, but indifference. I think that the opposite of happiness isn’t pain or sadness; it is lack of emotion, lack of feeling, nothingness. That feeling is worse than pain because it is like being in limbo; it gets you nowhere.

I believe that in life you need to feel. Emotions, whether good or bad, exist for a reason; they remind us that we are alive. They make us human. They separate man from beast.

I believe that sometimes life hurts, but you must hurt to live. That pain is what makes you a stronger person; avoiding it only makes you weak. By relying on my chemical crutch, I was allowing myself to fall deeper and deeper into the abyss of dependency.

I believe that through suffering comes strength and the low points in our lives build strength and character. Because I wasn’t there for the low’s, I couldn‘t move past them. I realized that I could never be happy if I didn’t know how to be sad. I would never have pleasure if I kept shielding myself from all the pain. Life isn’t always going to be easy and there are no guarantees that it‘s going to go your way. The most important thing is that you allow yourself to enjoy the ride, no matter how many ups or downs along the way.