In the early days of my breakdown, when my mental state first started spiraling out of control, I called my uncle. He’s a clinical psychologist and knows me very well, so I was desperate to get his take. I couldn’t understand why my anxiety suddenly shot through the roof. I’d suffered from low-level anxiety nearly my whole life but always knew how to manage it. This was different. This was can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t stop shaking, full-on fight or flight. His immediate assessment was childhood trauma. He spent time with me as kid and witnessed the house I grew up in and felt I’d been suffering PTSD for years but never really dealt with it. After having a child of my own and not being able to dedicate as much time to self-care and coping mechanisms, I reached a breaking point and everything started spilling out.
I can’t say that’s 100% accurate but it seems plausible. I’ve definitely acknowledged my difficult childhood but I don’t think I ever really “healed” from it. My uncle urged me to start therapy, which I have, but it’s a slow and imperfect process. And I question the capacity for change at a fundamental level. If my childhood experiences shaped me to the core, letting go of baggage will only take me so far. I’m working on meditation and mindfulness, which teach me not to get carried away with negative thoughts, and it does help. But I wonder if and how these techniques alter your basic framework. The neural pathways forged during childhood are a deep-rooted form of programming. Which brings me to the question – if your early life is over-shadowed by darkness does it become a part of your being? Is the devil inside an ineluctable reality, no matter how “good” you might want to be? And in that light, will happiness be inevitably more difficult for me to achieve? I know that I want to be happy, and I certainly have been at times, but I’m not what you’d call an optimist. More of a cynical realist. I’m hoping I can come out of this with a bit more positivity and improved coping mechanisms. I’m not quite there yet, but I do believe a better path forward is possible.
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