What depression teaches you

This is kind of a dark topic to finish out the decade when there’s so much excitement for the new one but whatever, I never do things in the normal order. Honestly, in some ways it’s the perfect time because as you start to think about what you want for your new year you have to eliminate things you don’t want. For me, the last several years has been the most transformative of my life and I’ve been through some shit but this last period…talk about change! I’d like to say that all the transformation came from just simply deciding to work on myself and keep improving but it’s not. Most people don’t go through a transformation without having some sort of dark night of the soul. My start was dark, as dark as it’s ever been, and it was not pretty. Of course no one ever fully realizes how shitty the process of self development is till your in it. We hear people say it’s a rough road to get there but until your in the trenches you have no fucking idea how ugly they can be.

So how did my journey start? It started with everything breaking down around me to a point I found myself in the hospital under suicide watch. Not many people know that, well honestly more than I wanted knew due to the betrayal of someone I’d once trusted but we’ll get to that. Regardless, yes I was in the hospital for an attempted suicide and I lied to get myself out. For the record, the hospital I went to was a horrible place and all I had to do to get out was say that I wasn’t a danger to myself or others. That’s it, no actual therapy or talk just say yes or no and your out. In truth, I was very much still a danger to myself but after witnessing and experiencing some of the poor treatment in there I wanted the fuck out. So I lied, went home to my crumbling life and tried to continue hiding how bad things were for fear of being readmitted. The day after I got out I sat through an entire four hour conversation with my now ex-fiancé yelling at me, telling me everything I was doing wrong and ultimately leaving me. The whole time my thoughts were doing the cycle they’d been doing of say things like “see you are unloveable, no one wants you or to deal with you, your just a burden and hated and really are you doing anything good for this world? You’re not, you can’t provide for your daughter the way you should, people hate you and want to see you fail, you’re alone, no one cares, you should just leave this world, it’s too painful here just leave it’ll be better for everyone if your dead”.

Yep that was the stream of thought in my head and in the car after that long conversation my only thought was “you could just run yourself off the road and it’d be so easy and everything wouldn’t hurt so much anymore”. I don’t know how or why I didn’t but I drove myself home and slept. I slept because it was the only thing stopping me since I had no intention of going back under observation. If I was gonna leave this world I was gonna make sure I wasn’t getting stopped but I was being watched heavily by my dad and my poor daughter who in my mind would’ve been so much better off without me. While all this is going on a breakdown was still happening within my business that started an avalanche and my decline. I’d spent years giving myself to my business and what I’d initially created it to be had completely changed into something I didn’t want. I let so many other people determine what it was, how it functioned just to make them happy that I had lost all passion for it. I’d gone through an assault by a former client a few years before that I was so ashamed of I still hadn’t received help for it. It wasn’t my fault but I still felt shame and that event led to me closing myself off. I trusted no one anymore, I hardly ever went out anymore but because of the utter loneliness I felt and need to liked by someone, anyone I latched on to the people around. That would’ve been staff and a few long term students that became staff. This was the biggest mistake I’d ever made and biggest lesson of my life.

The staff I latched onto I’d developed a rapport with and relationship with but it was one that had no boundaries and one where I asked for no respect as a boss. When I needed to talk about something, instead of going to the friends that had been in my life, I’d isolated myself and talked to my staff. So that meant if there was an issue with a staff member the only other people I had to talk to about it were their peers. The problem with this is obvious but for someone who was still hurting so bad over being violated and betrayed, then shunned by a few people that did know about my assault, I didn’t see that. I’d finally gotten into a relationship again but so much of me was still closed off because I couldn’t fully trust and having a partner that scolded me anytime I needed to vent just made me shut down further. So there’s just a whole shit show of problems with all of this and in the middle of it I’d made bad decisions within my studio financially. I added unlimited memberships to make people happy which by the way is the worst decision any small boutique studio can ever make and I was paying my staff way more than was affordable or deserved. They were coming in teaching using programming I created, advertised for, paid for in a place that I paid for and ran but I was paying them more then I paid myself because again I latched on.

So all of this boiled down to major financial strain that basically was on the verge of ending me. One instructor, who I’d become particularly close with was unhappy and started reaching out to the others. She’d offered to do an event for the studio that she wanted to put on and let the studio keep the profit but afterwards, and because admittedly I was behind, decided she did want the money from it. It wasn’t there because I had used it to start getting ahead on things but she wanted it. In this whole timeline I’d set all my staff up to believe they were more important then me and I had molded everything to what they wanted all the while loosing my dreams for it, feeling like I couldn’t tell them when they were screwing up because they’d get mad and leave and having absolutely no boundaries. This ended with said former employee going to each of the other staff members and telling them I’d said horrible things about them. She’d stepped down already and was reaching out but at this point what she didn’t realize was that I was in a state of depression so deep I couldn’t get out and was trying to figure out how to kill myself. She didn’t know but the shit storm had started and one by one many of my employees started coming down on me. Why? Because I allowed all of it and things were so out of control that I couldn’t see a way out. So I ended up in my car driving to a damn and on the ledge ready to jump when I was found by police and subsequently taken to the hospital.

All of this led to me being ordered into therapy which honestly is where I should’ve been before but money had been the issue and well it’s really hard to think of getting help when you believe the worlds just better without you. But I started therapy and yes everything was breaking down and it broke down more through this whole thing. But as I was going through this whole process of finding myself again I learned so much valuable information. I learned that giving everything you think people around you want will not make them love or stick by you. I learned that putting everyone before me leaves me empty. I learned that letting others decide what’s best for me and my business only ends with me feeling used, hurt and alone when they don’t get their way anymore. I also learned how much I needed to lean on the people that truly cared about me and stop settling for people that didn’t have my best interest at heart. I also learned that hiding from the traumas I’ve been through doesn’t fucking work and the problems your going through cannot be dealt with alone.

I have dealt with strong feelings of failure throughout this journey and sadness knowing some people utterly hate me. That has always been something I’ve struggled with given I grew up with a mom that hated me. I don’t like the feeling which is why I always tried to make others happy even when it destroyed me in the process. Getting past that is something I constantly work on but as shitty as it all was I don’t think I would’ve ever gotten to a place where I actually faced the real problems had I not gone through this. Depression will teach you so much and I’m certainly not advocating going through that. I wouldn’t wish being in that place on anyone because it fucking sucks! But, like it or not, it can be the thing that finally gets you to a place where you finally start living for yourself. That will mean people will leave and they won’t support your journey. The people you let walk over you or get more from you than you’re comfortable with will end up hating you. They’ll hate you because you’re not allowing them to be more important than you or get away with things you were never ok with. You may loose your partner which looking back who wants to be with a partner that shames you for needing to vent or lean on them when your falling apart? No one in their right mind needs that and sometimes you have to loose your mind to get in your right mind. Depression sucks and it’s certainly a long road through it and out of it but it can teach you so much if you let it. The trick is once you learn the lessons you don’t repeat them. I hurt and scared my family so much with this and that’s the only thing I still struggle with. But everything I’ve been through has led me on a path to finally understanding what I really need and want in my life and that is an invaluable lesson.

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