Before you read:
At the 🡻 bottom 🡻 of this post I have attached the voice note audio that this is based off of! So if you would prefer to listen rather than read, that option is available to you (scroll down). It is not exactly the same as what is written, but pretty close.
Please let me know if this is something you would like to become a regular thing!
Onto the post!
I was “diagnosed” with depression autumn after graduating high school (18). Diagnosed is in quotations because it was quite unceremonious. My mom and I went to our doctor, told her that I was extremely low mood and energy and she prescribed me Zoloft (an antidepressant that my mom had used for her moods).
And that was that.
It’s been quite a ride since.
I have said to God so many times that if I can at least help other people through what I’ve gone through, then all of the suffering is worth it.
Is that a bit of a martyr mindset? Maybe.
Today as I was cleaning off a whiteboard, I saw the phrase “don’t waste your pain.” It’s something that I heard a while back and it really resonated with me.
It’s just… there have been so many days where I don’t want to get out of bed. That I don’t feel that my life is worth living. And there are other days where I’m able to sit with someone in their pain and their discomfort and they feel seen.
That is kind of worth the constant pain that I feel when I’m not seen.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s so fucking hard.
Keeping the mindset of don’t waste your pain is helpful to me. It keeps me grounded, in the sense that the work that I do isn’t in vain. That saving myself isn’t a mistake. Showing others that they can manage and that I understand it doesn’t feel like it and that they don’t want to. It’s impossibly tough to know that you’re going to experience pain, yet choose to show up in spite of that. It’s brave in a way.
At various times in my life people have used the word “strong” to describe me. I never used to understand it, because all I felt was weak.
Seriously though, I feel like such a weak human being. Constantly.
But here are these people saying that I’m strong and I was left wondering what strength they were seeing.. After conversations with them and really looking at myself I see that I am strong.
Because I’m making choices to continue. To better myself even when I don’t know what the future looks like and even though I risk all of my feelings of safety by doing so.
But I’m strong.
I want you to say this along with me. I know it feels corny; it absolutely does. Just take a second, put your hands on your hips in a super hero pose, even if you’re sitting.
Say out loud “I am strong. I am strong. I am strong.”
Deep breath in. Hold it at the top. Exhale.
Breathe into the fact that you are strong.
And no one gets to define what counts as strong for you. Honestly, there’s some weightlifters out there that can lift a whole tonne of shit, but lifting my body weight off the couch or out of bed sometimes is more weight to lift.
Make your pain count.
Don’t waste your pain. And don’t wallow in it! I say this as someone who is 29 and I spend most of my time ruminating and thinking and….. trying to escape my mind and how much I live in the past and the future. I’m terrified of the future, and I’m broken by my past. Still I carry on.
Get up. You can do the things. When you see other people that are down or going through something, don’t waste your pain. Don’t let the experiences you’ve gone through and the new data that you now know go to waste. Use what you’ve learned and when/where you’ve fallen apart and brought yourself back together and show others. Tell others.
I’m nervous about sounding narcissistic (will write a future post about narcissism), but I am what I know best. I am, in reality, what I’m most passionate about. My brain, my inner world, my outer world. I am my biggest focus. Even when I try to run away from that fact.
I talk about myself and my experiences because that’s the background that I have. It’s what I’m most knowledgeable on. And that’s all I can give you. I can give you what I’ve learned.
I’ve learned stuff in school, and from other people, but what I can tell you best is what I’ve experienced. Not just the things from the books or the Ted talks. It’s me.
The fact that I’m still here.
And I’m trying every single day that I remember, or that I feel strong enough, to not waste my pain. Because my past self is worth honouring today and tomorrow and every day after that. My current self is putting in the work to make sure that the pain I’ve felt had purpose, had meaning.
Even if that’s just me making meaning.
The lessons I’ve learned the hard way are worth it. When my words and what I’ve gone through helps others feel seen it is worth it. When I am who I needed when I was younger it is worth it.
YOU are worth it. Your pain is not for nothing.