Of course, while losing my grandmother unexpectedly was certainly the most tragic event of the year, and may well serve as a hinge on which I place some before-and-after significance in my life, it's not just an ending. I don't know if there really are such things as endings. Because the event itself was not the thing that changed me. It was the spark. It was the button that pushed me. It caught my heart on fire. It clicked something and allowed me to finally pay attention to my life. It woke me up to the unreasonable, irritable, lonely, depressed person I had become in the last several years and which I actively pretended didn't exist. The person that I presented to everyone was slightly attention-seeking, introverted, virtuous, and doing just fine, thank you very much. But that's just a carefully, artfully constructed mask, to use the old, appropriate cliche. I haven't been fine, because I've been ignoring myself for years. My own physical, emotional, spiritual health was just a foreign concept that I pretended to think about sometimes. But mostly I worried about everyone else, and everything else, and all of these things I can't possibly change.
It's like possession. Depression or perfectionism or paranoia or whatever, it takes possession of your faculties and you become lost in its fog. You don't even know you're possessed. You just roll with the punches, terrified, grappling on to whatever thin string of control you think you have in order to survive. But it takes a real risk--from yourself, not the rescue you imagine will come--to stop holding tight, to let the string go, to admit you don't know where you are and you need help. The reason, other than denial, that doing that is so hard, is because you think of yourself as a total failure and you don't want anyone to know. I certainly did, anyway. I do a lot. No matter how many compliments I got from caring friends, family, loved ones, (and boy, do I feed on them!), I didn't believe them.
The events of July slowly shook off that mask I spent so much time on. I realized I wasn't okay when I started getting panic attacks, when I actually paid attention to how often I cried, to how upset I felt inside about the tiniest things. I did what I should have done a few years ago, but this time was actually ready for--I got some help.
Even though I thought I was getting help for the grief of the family death, I found out my problems ran way deeper and I started to be able to see that thing that had taken possession of me. Now, just a couple months since finding help, I feel so much freer. I'm not as terrified of life and how other people perceive me. I struggle all the time with the concept that I'm not a failure, and I'm trying to learn how to take care of myself without feeling guilty about it. Already I know I'm on a healthier track, I'm changing the way I see myself and what I can and cannot change. I'm able to open up to others a little more. And I'm so grateful. This year has been one of extreme ups and downs, but I believe that the stain of my grandmother's death will be overcome by the joy of being woken back up, made alive. And if it weren't for those around me who care about me so, so much, I wouldn't be in this place. So thanks, loves. Thank you for making my year turn on its heels and stick its head up high.