By Better Days Global, May 11 2018 12:14PM
While tears are seen by many as a sign of weakness, not the trait of one who has dedicated their life to helping people to become the best versions of themselves, and quite the opposite of the better days that one proclaims, I feel it is essential for me to share the truth about these misconceptions.
Throughout my life, I have had an ongoing battle with depression. I didn’t always know what it was, but it was always there, sometimes right in front of me blocking my very vision of hope, and other times beside me waiting on me to drop my guard and think that everything is ok, before suffocating me once again. As the years went by, and I began to become more aware of this burning, deep dark and heavy sensation that would take over my mind, body and spirit, I had no energy left to hold back or hide my deep innermost feelings. Waking up on a cold pillow drenched in tears has been a normal part of my life and though I smile throughout the day and live to be an encouragement to everyone whom I encounter, the reality of the countless times my pillow needed to be turned over to the warm side, consumes me even now.
But what happens when both sides of the pillow are cold and wet and you’ve run out of contingency plans for your tears? What happens when you are left with a choice of cold and wet or discomfort? The reality for me was that the cold and discomfort were one and the same, as my pain wasn’t external, rather cold, wet and uncomfortable within. The feeling of treading carefully because you know that at any minute, it will show it’s ugly face. The moment I open my eyes in the morning and I check to see if it is there or if there is hope for another day. The reality that it doesn’t matter who is around you or what is happening in your life, it is no respecter of these variables. Many of these realities are not always obvious to others, for some of you, you may be able to relate to these descriptions. While there is no complete description of depression, it is personal but very recognisable once introduced.
Some days I know it is there, but I press on trying to stay busy so it doesn’t paralyse me. Most days it’s difficult to combat. It eats away at you from the inside, causing a silent and painful existence, an overwhelming feeling of heaviness and a deep burning that only your vulnerabilities can interpret. You feel off balance and at mercy to your own thoughts. For me, I feel out of control and weak with the inability to communicate that which I feel, and yet, the tears flow until they run dry. Society tells me that as a man I am to suck it up, man up, be strong, get myself together, but what happens when you have run out of every ounce of strength to continue pretending everything is alright? What happens when you don’t have it in you to bother another person with how you feel? What happens when you reach out for help but it’s not available? These questions are ones which I have had over the years, and I have many more unanswered than answered.
Sometimes in life you will be in situations where it seems that you're going round in circles. You overcome one storm and start to get your life back on track only to find yourself in a new whirlwind battered by the continuous trials of life. It feels like you never get a break and your energy is low. You feel invisible, heavy and like no one understands what you're living through. You feel like life is not worth living and that you'd be better off dead, free from the constant pain you feel in your mind and heart. It feels dark, lonely, cold and very painful. Your every effort is cancelled out by the heaviness of your heart. I know too well what this feels like and I have never claimed to be a guru with a perfect life, or someone who has all of the answers. I just want to share with you what has continuously worked for me. Experience teaches me that storms don't stop and that they are inevitable. Accepting this was the first part of my breakthrough. It was hard for many years because I didn't want to believe it. By me accepting it, I could then use all of my effort to planting myself deeper into the foundations of my faith so that when they do come, I'm shaken but not easily moved. It started with a diligent prayer life followed by a life detox. I had to let go of a lot of the negative influences in my life which included "friends" unhealthily relationships, career changes and what I allowed into my mind. This was a process and it took years of life shaping before it was my reality. My perception changed and altered my perspective. It gave me room to notice more of the good around me. Instead of complaining, I used my pain to inspire others, rebrand my life and be more productive. It lays dormant within me and often shows its ugly face, but I choose to feed myself life based on what God says about me and His plans for my life.
A few years ago I made a choice to step away. This decision lead to me being forced to my my own therapeutic space. It was uncomfortable as busy was no longer a refuge for me. I had to reevaluate my position and do a life audit. If you’re anything like me, you’ll know that this is a huge task as I do so much, but it still had to be done. This process however uncomfortable taught me a lot about myself, and it was challenging because I was doing it alongside managing the pain within my heart and mind. However, I committed to spending time with me and being still. It took a whole year before I began to see any results, and still I struggle with pain, but this grounding and balance has helped me to keep perspective, get closer to God and prioritise my health.
Sometimes we are looking for support, answers and help externally for things that only can be fixed internally. Once I took back the ownership of my internal world, I started to see my perspective of the external world change. The tears re-emerged, but I didn’t resist the healing power that comes from not holding them in. Contrary to the collective societal standard, crying is a part of my process. Sometimes the words are not enough and the inability to communicate them, often creates more frustration. Our language hasn’t evolved in sync with the complexities of our spirits, and so the non-verbal language of our heart connects with God and brings healing.
I’m writing this today as this is part of my healing, and I hope for someone a part of theirs too. Where ever you are and whatever you’re going through, together we stand and declare “This is not how my story ends;”
To the men and young men out there, your tears are not your weakness. They are your strength. Do not be ashamed of your feelings, experiences and vulnerabilities. They are an essential part of who you are in this moment, and they play a significant role in who you are growing into. To anyone out there who can relate to the above, be encouraged. If it sounds like I just described your life, be blessed. You're not alone.
Expressions from my life to yours. #SW
God Bless You All