I Took Time Off To Decide If I Wanted To Live Or Not

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

It’s not a very pretty statement, is it? 

The truth tends to be a bit uncomfortable at times, but to release it is rather freeing. And quite honestly, I’m a bit tired of dabbling in half-truths and omissions. So yes, a few months ago I withdrew myself from life. I quit my job, disabled most social media, stopped answering phones calls, and withheld from most texts. I spent the majority of my time alone, in silence, staring at walls with my mind whirling a thousand thoughts a second. And all of them kept coming back to one singular question, “Do I want to live?”

A lot of people believe the opposite of wanting to live is wanting to die, but for people with mental illness that’s not always true.

It is possible to not want to live while simultaneously not want to die. It’s this strange purgatory space where you aren’t sure what to do, or what to think, you just know that you have no interest in participating in life, yet aren’t quite ready to die either. (I feel the line “It’s been too hard living, but I’m afraid to die” from Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come is a top notch description). And that’s where I was, not quite ready to die but very much detached from life. There was no desire, no motivation, no ambition, no connection, no hope, no faith, no fear, no anger, no sadness, no excitement, no happiness, no anything. There was just me. I was just here.

So here’s the thing about being in that purgatory space – in order to get out of it you have to make a decision. And you have options. You can choose to die, you can choose to remain detached (just going through the motions of life until it’s over), or you can choose to live. And so I spent quite a while trying to decide which choice I wanted. I shut everybody out, ignored everything, didn’t eat much, and barely slept. I was pretty isolated for the most part. And every second of the day was dedicated to deciding whether I want to live or not.

Ultimately I made the decision to choose life.

It would be lovely to say that I woke up one day, decided to choose life, made a set of goals, poured my heart into them, and had a complete life change. The truth is that didn’t happen. The truth is I’m making the decision to choose life every single day, multiple times a day, really. I’m still learning what ‘living’ means, and I’m still slowly crawling out of that purgatory space. I’m still in the midst of the process, but I’m choosing to be here, to be active, and to participate.

It’s a bit of a shock rejoining the world after you’ve tapped out of it for sometime. There are people and acquaintances that didn’t notice your absence (and quite frankly don’t care), there are friends you’ve ignored that are resentful, hurt, or confused, and there’s a wave of decisions that come rushing at you that you’ve got to wade through. I’m attempting to balance it without overwhelming myself. One foot in front of the other, right?

In the meantime I’ve decided not to hide nor sugarcoat my process. Career wise I’m getting back on my feet after being silent so long, socially I’m stepping my foot back into the water (albeit, very slowly), personally I’m happy to be writing again. I’m a woman who loves to appear all-together and insanely strong, and while I still am strong I’m accepting that I’m going through a recovery period. I’m trying to learn how to choose to live. It is what it is. It may not be pretty, but it’s my reality.

It’s a reality that makes people uncomfortable at times. For example, if you ask me how I’m doing I will more than likely answer honestly. “Today I feel like jumping from my balcony. I won’t do it, but it’s how I feel today.” I get it, people don’t know how to respond. No problem. I’m fine if you just say “Oh, ok.” in response. But saying how I really feel frees me. It makes me feel present, and it helps me acknowledge my demons versus ignoring them.

So that’s where I’m at. Today I feel good (I just had a cup of coffee, so I figure that may have something to do with it). My life and career plans are sketchy at best, but they’re plans to be here, to live and to create. Today I’ve chosen to live, and while I hope tomorrow I choose the same, I’m allowing myself to take comfort in the success of my decision today. Today is enough, and today I am genuinely happy to be here.

If you are going through something similar, or find yourself in a purgatory place I say this:

You are allowed to feel everything you are feeling (or not feeling). It will not last forever if you do not want it to. You can make a choice, you have that power. If you want to choose life, but aren’t sure how to go about it I understand. It does take help, and if you need someone to assist you in finding that right help, or to help you work your way through this purgatory space (a ‘purgatory tour guide’ so to speak!) please do not hesitate to email me at: zauni@zaunitanil.com. If you want to be okay, it can be. You can make the choice, I promise. Sending endless love your way.

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