It was the last day of the year 2016. I had been miserable for about a year. When I had relocated to Chennai, I thought it would be just a few months before I find my comfort and peace again but life had proved me wrong. Something was terribly amiss, whether it was feeling out of place at my workplace or the lack of friends or loving someone who was hundreds of miles away, I didn’t know. I just knew that I didn’t feel the way a normal happy human being should feel. My awareness about mental health then, was too little to even guess that I might need a therapist or it was high time that I should let go of certain toxic mental patterns. So, I let it be, I let me be.
My roommates, who I was tempted to but unsure of calling my friends had offered me to go to a New Year’s party at a beachside resort with them. I agreed and gleefully so, but as soon as friends of friends had joined, my stomach had felt hollow. My heart had raced so fast. I wanted to run away, as if I had something to hide, something shameful, something terrible. I had managed to act present at the party, forcing a smile, clenching my fist every now and then to control the anxiety (I didn’t even know it was anxiety that I was feeling back then)
When the countdown began to welcome 2017, I found one of my roommates holding my sweaty hand. I remember how my heartbeat had slowed down and I had instantly felt better, hopeful and wanted. I had smiled, genuinely this time. And when the clock struck 12, She hugged me and shouted “Happy New Year!”. This roommate went on to become my best friend (Even now when I count my blessings, she is always on the list). There was something soothing about her and her presence. Till the end of my life, I will remember that one hug in the beginning of 2017 which had pulled me out of one of the most difficult phases of my life. She had restored my confidence and what followed after that party was a series of happy highlights which I fondly remember now as the happiest days of my life.
It is almost the end of 2020. A month ago, I would have said “I have been miserable for about 2 years”. When I had relocated to Mumbai, I was optimistic, cheerful and ambitious. Chennai had transformed me into a happier version, someone who blends in a crowd like its her home and with that zeal I had stepped into Mumbai, the city of dreams. But soon I felt déjà vu. Something was terribly amiss again, loneliness consumed me, anxiety and panic became the kind of friends who were always there with me. It was in the city of dreams that I watched my dreams shattering into pieces, taking away with each piece a part of me.
In the past 2 years, my awareness about mental health had shot up, thanks to the self-help books, online articles, videos and therapy sessions. I knew what I felt so frequently was anxiety which often turned to panic. Anxiety, the fear of unknown, I find it funny how something that is unknown can wreck our lives and create a havoc.
I tried to search for her. Again. I wanted her back, another best friend who would pull me out of the darkness and into light, who would hug me once and life will become a better thing to be living. I searched for her in every nook and corner, in the flat I lived, in the class I attended, in the cafeteria I frequented, through the loud music of the disco, through the deafening silence of the night. I kept looking for her everywhere but I didn’t find her.
And then, I stumbled into her one day. It was the onset of winter in my hometown, Rourkela. I was sitting on my couch, a blanket wrapped around me. I had stopped dreading about how depressing 2020 had been, I was used to it. I took my phone and clicked a selfie. I zoomed the picture and there she was. My friend, who had pulled me out of darkness and into the light. I saw my picture carefully, my eyes had gotten back their gleam, even though my hereditary dark circles weren’t completely gone.
The truth is I wasn’t really meeting her that day, she was with me all along, I was realizing it that day. It was me who had accepted and let go of what I couldn’t change. It was me who had filled the void in my heart with self-love. It was me who had taken the responsibility of keeping myself happy. It was me who had walked through the darkness, trusting the light at the other end and it was me who had finally seen the light.
Does this mean, I am always happy and nothing leaves an impact on me? A big No. According to me that would be borderline psychopathy. Certain things still hurt, certain days still suck, certain incidents leave a permanent imprint on my mind, I miss people, I miss places, my days get ruined, my nights are sleepless sometimes but I know full well that the only person who can truly help me out of this is myself.