Shattered into my own perfection
This is my story. I am a 27-year-old woman and the third of four sisters. When I was two years old, we went to live to England for three years, followed by one year at Honduras. After that, we came to our home country: Chile. At the age of seven, my youngest sister was born and quite frequently we fought, normally I started it. I would have the biggest breakdowns, I would hit my head against the wall, threat with me dying, probably in need of attention. But generally, all of this, I would live on my own, and not let others see my weaknesses. I would lie under my bed and cry or I would lay on the bed writing. Growing up, I had a hard time dealing with my father, he was very authoritative and we had a lot of confrontations due to opposite views. My parents would fight a lot; I just hid under my bed and cried. I didn't say much to anyone.
Once I was in puberty, I became a complete rebel. I left home at 12 at night and go partying, secretly. I would get completely wasted, trying to forget about everything. At school, I was a very sociable person, introverted, though trying hard to be an extrovert. I would try to make people laugh, write letters and stories to my friends. I liked being popular, and enjoyed dating a bunch of guys and went into one of the best universities. At my moments of stress, I would lose appetite, cry a lot, to my mother, sisters and friends. It was as if I was crying desperately for reasons I didn't know or understand.
At some point, I went to the psychologist because of this, but when I saw her writing "diagnosis: depression", I immediately left and never came back. A few years later, I went to another psychologist, lasted for about 4 months but when she started digging up into more profound parts of me, I ran away. I never stopped having my downfalls, and they got worse in time. Once, I was lying in my bed and started to have difficulty breathing and my heart started pounding very fast and strongly. I got super scared and calmed myself alone, crying. That was one of the most frightening times, I felt I had lost control of my own body and that my mind and heart were expressing themselves.
Although I always knew I had to start therapy, I always convinced myself that I could overcome it on my own, even if I always continued falling. When my boyfriend said: I really think you should see a therapist, I went. With her, I immediately felt a connection and very comfortable. However, in the beginning, as I felt I was perfect I became also the perfect patient, or what I thought that was. I would arrive and tell her my story, digging into the deepest things, without even breathing. And that would drain me later. I would cry desperately and feel as if my heart had been completely ripped. I was unable to go to work, so I wrote my psychologist, and when I went to see her, she said she would have to stop seeing me unless I complemented therapy with a psychiatrist. My whole life, I had a strong prejudice against psychiatrists. So, first I had to overcome that prejudice and just go. I went and it was amazing for me. He gave me antidepressants and I started taking them, continuing with the therapy. At therapy, I calmed a bit and stopped saying everything I thought I NEEDED to say, but rather what I WANTED to tell each day.
I have been 5 months in therapy now and 4 months having pills. I think I finally found my correct dosage of lamotrigine. Therapy has been full of ups and downs, and at some moments, I think it's useless. I generally feel this when I'm down. The treatment has definitely been positive. I have downfalls much less frequently. Plus, downfalls now feel different, at least now I understand better where they come from.
What I have learned during this time:
· You're never perfect and never will be. Your major challenge is to find the balance between the real world and your illusion of perfection.
· Learn to know yourself and accept yourself, with your strengths and weaknesses, which will permit you to accept others better, understanding that life will be always full of ups and downs.
· Being at the summit all the time is not real or possible. We will always be up and down. The challenge is to learn how to treat downs better and not fall so deep.
· You have to give yourself moments of silence and meditation. If not, you'll get caught up in the routine, do a million stuff at once and end up melting down your inner engine.
· People are not perfect either, you cannot demand what you want them to be, but rather accept them, and not be so anxious and impatient.
· You are who you are, not only when you're strong, but also when you're weak and lazy. That is also you and you have to learn to embrace yourself in both ways.
· Until you love yourself, you will not be able to love others as much as you could.
· It is important to recognize when you cannot do something and be willing and able to ask for help.
· Be grateful for everyone you have around you. Embrace them and ask them for help.
Constanza Palacios is a Chilean economist who is 27 years old. She works at J-PAL LAC Poverty Action Lab. Her passion has always been writing, especially short stories. She found this webpage an excellent opportunity to write and share how she's dealing with day-to-day anxiety and downfalls in a world that is moving so quick.