Who I’ve Become 🕊

I keep coming back to this blog by Renea Di Bella (which I mentioned in one of my first posts) titled ‘Redefining Success in Order to Stay Alive‘; her words repeating in my mind like clockwork.

In the eyes of society I was doing so well. Got a degree, took on further study alongside a “respectable” job, and in all aspects followed the typical societal standards (including cultural ideals) expected of someone my age. On the outside it almost seemed ‘perfect’ but it was far from that. My mental health was worsening yet I continued on for the sake of my family. Until it was no longer possible. I couldn’t keep on going like this.

I hit breaking point and in a short amount of time everything changed. Everything. I went from being someone who family/relatives highly regarded to becoming the ‘crazy’ one. The symbol of embarrassment. The one bringing down the family ‘reputation’. The inconvenience. My own view shifted from seeing myself as a productive member of society to a worthless, good-for-nothing.

Changing that perspective is proving to be difficult. What worth do I have as a non-working, non-talented, mentally ill person? I certainly wouldn’t view others through these lens but somehow for myself it’s different. My history of academic excellence and creativity has greatly influenced the way I see myself. I keep measuring myself against who I was (and often I want to be that person again) but my reality is different today.

I don’t just struggle with my mental health, I live with mental illness. Untreated mental illness over the years has led to physical health problems only now starting to become apparent. Fatigue and chronic suicidality has worn me down. My creativity has been overshadowed by brain fog and depression. My capabilities have changed for mental illness has robbed me of my former abilities. I am learning how to embrace finding out I’m autistic as an adult. I am learning to accept my trans identity in an anti-trans environment.

About 4 years ago it seemed everything was going well, I dreamt of having a flourishing career and a happy family. I had just bought my car telling myself I’d buy a better one in 5 years. Today that seems a very distant (if not impossible) dream. I am trying to view ‘success’ as more than it’s capitalistic definition. I probably won’t ever have the support of my family. Most likely won’t have a progressive career (and I no longer want it) because my journey is different now. In this moment I can only manage trying to stay alive.

I feel so much sorrow and heartache over what could have been. The success I could have achieved had mental illness not been in the way. I am saddened by these thoughts but to be honest I don’t think it was ever meant to be. That was never my path to walk.

The truth is I am not the same. I may never go back to who I was and that’s okay.

As Renea writes in her blog:

It’s hard to let go of excellence. It’s hard to accept that living a healthier life means giving up what once made me “great.”

Sahil ⚡

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