I’m starting this blog as a way to practice sharing the pieces of me that I usually keep to myself – the depression, anxiety, self-loathing and body dysmorphia that have been a part of me for as long as I can remember. After 5 years of dreaming about it, I started seeing a therapist at age 24. My progress toward being able to share authentically and openly in therapy (and in all relationships in my life) has been slow. Nearly three years in, I still start nearly every weekly session with an “I’m fine” and claim I have nothing to say. However this is due less to my unwillingness to share, and more to a go-to coping skill of mine: compartmentalization.
While compartmentalizing can be a helpful skill that serves its purpose of easing pain in order to live day-to-day life, I think I’ve relied on it, almost unknowingly, too much. Lately I’ve realized it’s caused this inability to synthesize all my different experiences and emotions into one cohesive sense of self. I block out nights of painful thoughts to the point where I wake up the next morning and forget they even happened, until I look in the mirror and see my puffy eyelids or notice the pile of tissues next to my bed- evidence that reminds me of a feeling I can genuinely no longer relate to as I get ready for the new day. I sit silent in a therapy session I can barely afford, wracking my brain for something to say and come up with nothing, while the skull outside my brain still lightly throbs from how hard I hit myself that painful night two days earlier.
The handful of times I’ve made myself journal while going through an episode (what an awful word– anyone have any other ways to describe when depression, anxiety, self-loathing swallow you whole?)– I’ve been grateful to have captured the experience in writing, since I can so rarely recall it or relate to it once it’s happened. Poems, blogs, and articles by others who viscerally and honestly share their experiences with mental health challenges have also deeply impacted me, made me feel that much less alone, validated feelings I often chalk up to my own over-reaction, made me think about things in new ways. Which brings me here- The Compartment. The feelings I’ve learned to forget, deny, feel ashamed for, out in the open (though anonymously) for me and for you. For me, may it be one step closer toward understanding myself and ultimately bringing that full self to the relationships in my life and those in my future. For you, maybe The Compartment will bring you connection, or relief, or curiosity, or a place to lean in to all the parts of you that you deny from others and maybe even yourself.
Please know, this is my compartment- it needn’t be yours- but I share with the hope of adding one more voice speaking on the too often unspoken realities of mental health challenges. For years, my fantasy has been for the compartment within me to be gone, fixed, cured. Sometimes, no doubt, it still is. But I’m going to try, practice, see how it feels, to seek relief not by erasing the “me” that is within the compartment, but by acknowledging it, maybe even honoring it, braiding the strands of myself together, believing that the silky and thorny, supple and sturdy strands alike support, strengthen, and make me whole.
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