Outshined, Again

I’m faint, tired, shaking, and hungry without an appetite. My tongue is white from Candida overgrowth and my fingers tremble involuntarily. I haven’t felt this frail and fragile in a while.

I can’t get any lower
Still I feel I’m sinking

A few weeks ago, I had a period where I felt nearly normal. I thought I was in remission, until lately. During Thanksgiving break, I went to stay with my New York family, whom I love, and whom I cherished my time with. Although physically hale (I’m faster than ever in the pool), my systems were weakened after throwing up five times on the bus ride to NYC, followed by successive nights of insomnia. I fell afresh into a depressive episode in the absence of academic stress.

Hello darkness, my old friend

During the night, my mood deepened, and I began to think of a traumatic event from middle school. I re-experienced the massive grief I felt at the time. Eventually, it passed, and to fall asleep, I attempted to write poetry for the first time in years.

During the day, I let myself be taken care of, and I allowed myself to be awkward around my aunt, uncle, and cousins. My time was peaceful and easygoing. I touched no work until I the day after I returned to campus, besides some reading I had brought with me. But things weren’t right within me. I wanted to sleep for eternity rather than receive the love I didn’t believe I deserved.

After coming back, some of the first things I had to do were to finish a previously overdue paper, and to request an extension for another paper. I got three assessments handed back (all A’s). Many of my classes are going well, and I find all of them highly rewarding in some way. But often I felt myself on the verge of tears while listening to the discussion. You’ll be okay soon, I told myself. But it didn’t get better.

And I’m lost, behind
The words I’ll never find
And I’m left behind
As seasons roll on by

I saw my eternity stretch out in front of me, like a life sentence to prison. I didn’t want to die there, neither did I want to wait out the rest of my sentence while hope and strawberry fields still existed beyond the bars. I wanted to escape.

And I hated myself. Nothing I could do could change the belief that I was undeserving of love, food, comfort, or esteem, least of all from myself.

Still, I believed I was “happy.” As long as I could find one positive thing, my attitude would override my true understanding of what my baseline was.

I had a panic attack in public by the end of the week. Up until that point, I never had someone hold me, or allow myself to truly cry in a friend’s arms while falling out of control. I was too distraught to go to lab that day, or anything that weekend. A professor (whose name I never found out) discovered me curled up in a shadowy section of the Geos room, and brought me to see a counselor for an emergency session.

Show me the power child, I’d like to say
That I’m down on my knees today
Yeah, it gives me butterflies, gives me away
Till I’m up on my feet again
Yeah I’m feeling
Oh, I’m feeling outshined, outshined, outshined, outshined

Over the weekend, I continued to shake and tremble for hours in my bed. But the worst parts were when I did and felt nothing, in a state of learned helplessness. I had friends from church visit my room, I healed myself through conversations with my mom and sister, and I found a small outlet in drawing. Gradually, the time passed, and a new week began.

And if your way should falter
Along this stony pass
It’s just a moment, this time will pass.

See, I’m such an overwhelming positive person that even a single thought can protect me from realizing I’m standing on nothing.

That’s a strength of mine, but a liability too. I need to learn how to validate my negative feelings. I’m an idealist; I see what “should” be, but often not what “is”.

Most of all, I’m praying to allow myself to receive the love God has for me. If only I could see myself with the compassion and grace that God has for His children!

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18 NKJV

I’m practicing patience. I have the rest of my life ahead of me to continue fighting. To anyone else, I would say that a day of doing nothing is still a victory. Life and breath itself has value. To a child, I would never tell her that she isn’t enough. I need to start believing the same for myself.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

I’m not having an easy week right now. But I have faith in the process. There are people around me who have shown me love at times when I couldn’t return it. One day, I may even begin to love myself…

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Photo by Cherry Laithang on Unsplash

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